Rush, Greek portrayal relies too heavily on stereotypes

Sunday night was Greek Bid Night, which marked a familiar scene: throngs of girls running down the Row through tunnels of frat boys and the cheers of sign-bearing sorority members.

Recruitment time always highlights the debate over the value of joining the Greek system, and many students at USC feel strongly about the issue. However, as a proud member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority, I will strongly defend the merits of being Greek.

I distinctly recall the horrified look on my non-Greek friends’ faces when I first told them I was going to join a sorority. They stared at me, mouths agape and eyebrows raised, erupting into a chorus of incredulous “why?”s. I have had to sit through many heated sorority-bashing sessions at parties, and just the other day I ran into a boy at the Lyon Center wearing a T-shirt protesting the USC Greek system. The judgment has consistently remained an aspect of my time as a member of the Greek community, and the criticism has worn me thin.

The problem is that most outsiders’ opinions of sororities are derived solely from stereotypes, which are perpetuated by images in popular media. Films and television shows such as The House Bunny or Greek paint a sorry image of what it means to be in a sorority. Sorority girls are depicted as slutty, stupid, catty, self-absorbed and insecure.

Let me tell you from personal experience: these negative stereotypes are uninformed generalizations. It may be fun to bash sororities, but those who are not members of the Greek community can never really know what goes on inside the closed doors of the houses on 28th Street.

The friendships formed in a sorority are invaluable and genuine. We do not pay dues to have a bunch of girls stand around and pretend to know us; the point of a sorority is to develop a true sisterhood. A sorority is a home away from home. It is a place girls can come back to at the end of a long day and feel comfortable and welcome.

Particularly for freshmen away from home, a sorority can provide a safe and fun environment to feel at home on the sprawling USC campus, not unlike other recreational clubs.

Of course, not everyone in a house is best friends with one another, and some of the houses are better at fostering loving environments than others. Still, each house represents a different family, and that family provides love and support to its members.

The recruitment process allows each potential new member to get to know every sorority and decide in which one she feels most comfortable. It is a long and grueling five-day process, but it is structured in such a way that each rushee gets to know all 10 Panhellenic sororities at USC and vice versa.

Each house’s selection process is different. Though I am not familiar with practices outside of my own, there is absolutely no hazing involved and girls are selected after careful review of how well they would fit into a particular house. It is not about how hot they are or how much money they have. Recruitment is about finding girls who the members feel would be good additions to their family, and it has developed over time to ensure it is a mutual selection process.

Girls going through recruitment wear dresses and high heels to give good first impressions because time is limited at each house. The girls who choose to become Greek on Sunday night do so because a house wants them to be sisters — hopefully they feel the same.

Being in a sorority provides girls with many opportunities to learn leadership and relationship skills that are invaluable for future employment, because each house is self-governed and relies solely on its members to function smoothly. The Greek community at USC has continually achieved a higher GPA than the all-undergraduate average, which suggests that Greeks do more than party all the time.

In fact, Greeks are actively involved in multiple organizations on and off campus and participate in many athletic and service-based activities with other Greek chapters at USC. Yes, there will be sorority girls out on the Row on Thursday nights, but they will also be raising their hands in class to answer questions and helping the community with Troy Camp or the Helenes.

Forget what you have heard about each of the chapters at USC; the stereotypes about each house are as broad and untrue as the ones made about sororities in general.

Judging sororities based on hearsay is as naïve as pretending to know everything about any other culture outside of one’s own. Each individual member of the Greek society is different: Form an opinion knowing they are girls in sororities, not “sorority girls.”

Joining a sorority is a very meaningful, personal decision, and is, in my opinion, a very good one.

Amy Baack is a senior majoring in cinema-television production. She is a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority.