What do you think about Greek life at Drake University? Are there prominent stereotypes regarding sorority and fraternity members on our campus? If these stereotypes are prevalent, are they warranted, or are they not? Thanks to Kappa Alpha Theta, around 300 Drake University students explored these questions on Tuesday night by attending David Stollman’s eye-opening presentation concerning Greek life titled, “Buy In or Get Out.”
Stollman’s message was one that proposed ideas to ponder as well as guidelines for Greek members and non-Greek members alike to consider.
Stollman is no stranger to Greek life; he completed his undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland where he became a member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. He then continued his education at Villanova University and is now the president of CAMPUSPEAK, an organization promoting leadership and excellence among college Greek communities.
Aside from Stollman’s impressive and lengthy list of National Interfraternity leadership positions, he is the current advisor for New York University’s Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter. He has also performed advising tasks for a sorority for the past eight years.
Stollman’s experiences have allowed him to look at Greek life from multiple unique perspectives, and through CAMPUSPEAK Stollman is attempting to spread the message, “Buy In or Get Out,” a program he says is about Greek, “values and standards.”
Stollman first made his position and passions clear to the room of students.
“I do this because I believe, without a doubt in my mind, that fraternities and sororities are the best part about a college campus,” Stollman said. “I do this because I believe in you.”
After his short introduction, Stollman made his presence clear through strong audience interaction. He offered female students a chance to identify stereotypical fraternity member characteristics. Words like, “tool,” “lazy” and “alcoholics” were thrown around. Males then identified sorority members as being stereotypically “rich,” “easy” and “bitchy.” These descriptors evoked ranging responses from roaring laughter to pure shock.
Stollman then acknowledged that while some Greek members may exemplify these harsh descriptors, “Just because he’s a tool doesn’t make them a tool shed fraternity.”
First-year biochemistry, cell and molecular biology major Tej Patel is a member of the Greek community and proffers the thought, “Stereotypes are always going to exist, but they are never warranted because there will always be outliers.”
Sophomore psychology and international relations major Cyrus Nadia said that there are no absolute stereotypes concerning the Greek community at Drake. He conjured a few vague generalizations of “Girls are skanky, and guys are brain-dead.” Nadia also argues that those are not necessarily true.
“A sorority or a fraternity was once something to be proud of,” Stollman said. “I don’t like these stereotypes hanging around my head.”
Stollman later dove into the issue of “Are Greek members breaking or perpetuating the stereotypes?” It cannot be denied that there are obvious examples of stereotypical fraternity and sorority behaviors on campus, and that is something that must be looked at.
“The ones who fit the stereotypes are generally louder and seek more attention, and they certainly aren’t helping the cause,” Nadia said.
“We should strive for the same values,” Stollman said. He proposes things such as the pursuit of academic excellence, bonds of brotherhood and sisterhood and development of leadership as common Greek fundamentals that should be strived toward. Stollman then addressed the popular belief that the social aspect of fraternities and sororities serves as the sole purpose or benefit.
“It is one of the many benefits, it is not why they exist,” Stollman said.
Ivy Gardner, a first-year English and secondary education major, is a Greek community member, and said being Greek has influenced her in a positive way.
“It adds standards and a set of morals for me to live up to,” she said. “For the rest of my life I will hold myself to those standards.”
Stollman argued that the continuation of activities ranging from toga parties to drinking games takes away from the true purpose of Greek life.
“We need to start thinking about the choices we make,” Stollman said.
If sorority and fraternity members wish to not be stereotyped, then they need to start taking responsibility for their actions and start representing their chapters in a positive light.
“You are always wearing your letters,” Stollman said.
Often, the true reasons why Greek members joined and continue to dedicate themselves to their chapters are overlooked.
Patel said that he originally joined to be involved and to meet new people.
“After joining, I’ve met people I never would have met,” he said. “I am friends with my fraternity brothers for who they are, and the most meaningful part of fraternity life for me is the brotherhood, the friendship, when it comes down to it you’re there for each other.”
Gardner said, “I went through recruitment unsure of whether or not I would be joining a house. Sure, maybe I joined for a social life, but now I have a place of comfort: a home away from home.”
Gardner thoroughly enjoyed Stollman’s message, but left confused.
“He said we should improve our image or change the Greek stereotype, but how?” she said. In regards to achieving a comfortable environment for all Drake students concerning Greek life, Stollman issued a simple suggestion: Prove them wrong.
“This is a family that you get to choose,” Stollman said. “All fraternities and sororities exist for the same basic purpose, to make men better men, and women better women.”
One thing that can be and should be respected by all Drake students is that we all seek to formulate a sense of comfort, and to fulfill the need for meaningful, personal relationships. Whether or not those needs are fulfilled through joining Greek life is a personal decision that comes with responsibility, and it is our responsibility as a campus to contribute to a healthy, accepting atmosphere for all students.
Photo: Connor McCourtney