Rushing to Stereotype: The Shortcomings of Sororities

Alex Weimer, Class of 2020

Everyone knows that special time in the fall when hoards of girls wearing denim skirts and off the shoulder tops swarm Broad Street. You guessed it: rush week. An entire week dedicated to sophomore girls pining after the friendship of exclusive upperclassmen groups known as sororities. While rushing can be a great experience, I personally find a lot of faults with it.  

To start off, if you don’t look the part, you won’t fit the part. People spend a meticulous amount of time trying to appear the way they think they should in order to fit into the role of a sorority girl. Because events during the first few nights are only 20 minutes, the women rushing need to present themselves in the best light possible as quickly as they can. This often leads to fake personas and shallow small talk while you try to sell yourself. While the focus is supposed to be on an individual’s personality and whether or not they would fit into the group, the people rushing seem to think that the way they dress will determine whether or not they get into a sorority. This takes away from their individuality and stresses the idea of fitting into a crowd.  

Because of this, sororities try to fit people in boxes. Certain personalities will fare better during rush week than others, which is even more true when it comes to appearances. While some sororities do a better job than others at being inclusive of the women on campus, there are still faults with the system as a whole. For example, it seems like if someone wants to be a part of Kappa, they need to be a blonde white girl. And sure, there are always exceptions to the rule, but by-in-large this is the case. If sororities talk about inclusivity and sisterhood, I don’t think members should all necessarily look related. 

In addition to this, the sororities were founded on the idea of embracing womanly values. Which leads me to ask, what constitutes a “womanly value”? The ideas behind the sorority system continue to propagate archaic stereotypes of women. If sororities are supposed to empower women, they shouldn’t be stuck with antiquated ideologies. A woman’s role in society has changed since these chapters were founded and it’s necessary to change with the times. 

I think there is, however, a lot of good that can come from sororities if they shift their mentalities. The philanthropic aspect of the houses suggests they have the means to give back to the community. Just last year Tri Delta raised tens of thousands of dollars to put toward St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. Imagine if every house involved with Greek life put that kind of emphasis on giving back. The kind of impact sororities can make can also be more localized to the communities of Colgate and Hamilton.  

Sororities have power to help change the inherently flawed system that is Greek life on this campus. Because there are only three sororities, it’s much easier to hold each other accountable and easier to band together and support each other as women and students on this campus. Everyone on campus last spring knows that the climate was troubled with social issues regarding sexual assault and Greek life. So what would happen if the sororities demanded a change? If there weren’t mixers until actual progress was made in the mentality of Greek life? Sure, it’s a small ripple in a very large and problematic pond, but if sororities are on campus to empower women then there needs to be noticeable action being taken to do so. 

But congrats, by the end of the week you have made it. You’re now privy to the exclusive formals and mixers being held on Broad Street, which aren’t open to just anyone. We wouldn’t want to mess with our ratios, now would we boys? Sororities can be a great experience, but it is important to keep an open dialogue about what can be done to better improve the reputation of Greek life on campus, because it is far from perfect. 

Contact Alex Weimer at [email protected]