Ignore Greek life stereotypes

Paulina Urbanowicz

Greek life is underappreciated and misunderstood on this campus, but the truth is that it is an indispensable part of the UT experience. Evidence of this can be found in the Greek community’s commitment to philanthropic service. Sororities work hard year-round to host annual fundraisers for their specific charity. During the much-maligned annual Roundup weekend, Panhellenic sororities host an event to raise proceeds for a good cause. Event types range from carnivals with snow cones and pizza to all-you-can-eat pancakes. Many events are free with an optional donation or require a very small fee. 

Leo Zonn, a geography professor who interacts with UT undergraduates daily, says, “My sense is very positive for the UT fraternities and sororities. They don’t seem to exert too much influence on this campus socially and politically, their activities always seem to be within reason, and it would seem there is a spot for anyone who wants to join. I always encourage first-year students to join an organization on campus that shares their values, and I never hesitate to include the Greek community as a possibility.”

Zonn points out two important qualities of the Greek community at UT. Though similar t-shirt designs spotted in class might lead students to feel that an overwhelming majority of the student population is Greek, the statistics show approximately 14 percent of the undergraduate student population to be in involved in the Greek community. The dean of students reports that this percentage includes over 200 different majors and 73 different chapters.

However, some on campus share negative perspectives about the Greek community. Biomedical engineering senior Quentin Smith said, “To be blunt, it is difficult for me to view the Greek community as anything but a homogenized and often pretentious culture that is based in exclusion and mediocrity.”

As an active member of a UT sorority, I feel compelled to expand the understanding of non-participating students.

Wearing a matching t-shirt for attending the same event does not diminish your personality or the goodness resulting from that event in the case of philanthropy. The characteristics that members of the same Greek chapter are guaranteed to have in common are the core values for which they were selected. Each chapter is founded on traditional values that were set hundreds of years before us and are being preserved today. There are specific qualities that help each chapter maintain its integrity, including rigorous scholarship standards.

I fully acknowledge that every organization has its flaws. But I challenge non-Greek students to maintain an open mind and look deeper into the positive accomplishments of the Greek community.

Urbanowicz is a geography senior from Houston.