Working primarily in recruitment, there is ONE conflict that I face every day… the Greek stereotype.
Image can certainly be a tricky subject. Typically, we Greeks want to be the center of attention. We also claim to be a “cut above the rest”, having taken oaths that hold us to higher standards. While in many cases, the good works performed by our organizations can attract a lot of attention, the reality is that it is all too often that our shortcomings and admitted bad judgment take the prize.
Take for example, an organization hosting a large-scale philanthropic effort for the campus and community. At best, the organization may get non-Greek attendees, a press release in the local paper and if the results are spectacular, a small article in the campus newspaper about the event.
However, if the same organization were to host an off-campus party with several underage students being served, an offensive theme, binge-drinking encouraged and pictures taken (all of which are unfortunately common), the result will be much different. Administrators will begin talking about the irresponsible Greeks on campus as party photos circulate public domain(s)…one of the most frustrating things to see. Campus (and perhaps community, depending on your location) newspapers and blogs will jump on the opportunity to investigate yet another Greek issue while more students, staff and parents will continue to wholeheartedly believe their preconceived images of our organizations at large.
So how do we combat these things?
Simple concept…not so simple in practice. The values expressed in our respective rituals are enough to bring a good reputation and defy the stereotypes that plague the Greek world. Be what you say you are.
Foster a continuing relationship with the university:
Despite what many may think, the university IS your friend and should be regarded as such. Participate in university events/activities, join other organizations that support the campus and it’s many outlets. Maintain open lines of communication with faculty and administrators. In short, make friends with those who can assist you and your organization.
Changing a member’s behavior is nearly impossible, thus it is important to always remember that “you are what you recruit” (see the previous entry). Seek potential members who will add to a tradition of excellence, rather than serve as a detriment. Look for exemplary academic performance, campus engagement and true social excellence (no this doesn’t mean the guy who becomes the life of the party after a few natty’s). Recruiting the right members will make all the difference in the years to come.
Moral of this blog:
People expect more of you because of the oath you took. Therefore, give the non-Greek public something to be impressed by. Don’t publicize the poor decisions made on an individual basis that could jeopardize the well-being of the organization. Instead, promote the good that your organization does to serve as a reminder of what you stand for.
We believe that we represent not only our own organizations, but indeed the spirit of all Greek groups. It’s a culture, not a club… and a privilege, not a right.