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Does Greek life live up to popular media’s perception?

Students listen to a presentation about organ donation sponsored by Lambda Theta Alpha, a campus sorority. (Eric Leung)

Imagine witnessing a parent saying their last goodbyes to the stiff corpse of their once vibrant child who lost their life from being hazed.

Although stories like this are often front and center in the media when referring to fraternities and sororities, not all Greek life is bad. There is also a positive side that comes along with being a part of these organizations, and the chapters found at Stony Brook University are good examples.

The honor society Order of Omega is a society for the fraternity and sorority community that recognizes members who excel in scholarship and leadership. That is just one possible award that fraternities and sororities have the chance of earning for their work. However, when it comes to Greek life in the media, hazing often eclipses the achievements and awards that the social organizations can obtain for their positive work.

According to an article in “The Newburg-Beacon Evening News,” in 1989 at Stony Brook University, two fraternity brothers were “charged with assault in a hazing ritual that knocked a student unconscious.” Three others were suspended for participating in the beating.

“Many sororities serve the purpose of uplifting their communities through unity. Many take pride in academics, culture and other aspects but are misconstrued,” Stephanie Correa, a senior double majoring in health science and Africana studies, said.

As a member of the Sigma Lambda Upsilon sorority, Correa said that they [fraternities] are all seen as a single entity of wild college students whose focuses are partying and a good time, but there are law, social, coed and multicultural fraternities.

Two films that explore Greek life are “Stomp the Yard,” and “Revenge of the Nerds.” In “Stomp the Yard,” the movie boasts the idea that fraternities build character and shows off the performance side to the organizations. In “Revenge of the Nerds,” the movie portrays Greek life being centered around parties, pranks, and popularity. While one movie focuses on the glory and brotherhood of performing with a fraternity, the other magnifies the media’s views.

“To be honest, I think they are a bit of a joke,” Hannah Perruccio, a senior majoring in sociology, said. “They [fraternity and sorority members] walk around campus wearing their Greek letters, but, personally, I really have no idea who they are,” Perruccio said.

Sororities and fraternities at Stony Brook stay largely social on campus by throwing parties, doing community service and holding events to entertain students. They host a variety of events in hopes of attracting an array of students. Not all choose to pledge because of the allure of parties. The different activities allow potential pledgers to decide what they wish to get out of the fraternity or sorority. This generally leaves undergraduate students to either be in for a rude awakening or for the best experiences of their lives.

“As an athlete, we kind of have our own cliques of people and honestly on this campus it seems like sports teams are more respected than frats and sororities,” Perruccio, a member of the lacrosse team, said.

Most of the negative media gained from these organizations deals with the serious topic of hazing. Hazing attracts lots of attention because it can be done by many different clubs or organizations. But, the majority of the time, sport teams and Greek life are the groups that are heavily associated with hazing.

This past September, Noelle Morrison, a 20-year-old athlete from Stony Brook who plays college volleyball at SUNY Geneseo, faced charges of first-degree hazing and unlawfully dealing with a child after allegedly forcing the youngest team members to drink alcohol, according to “Three Village Patch.” Earlier this year, Binghamton University made the front page of “The New York Times” amid a hazing scandal that forced the institution to enact a suspension on pledging for all of its Greek organizations.

Members of the on-campus organizations see what they do as being different from what the media portrays.

“Many fraternities and sororities, especially the black and Latino fraternities and sororities, try to uphold the principles they’ve been founded upon while also maintaining a positive presence in the campus community,” Jacob “Vita” Laguerre, a senior philosophy major and member of the Sigma Lambda Beta fraternity, said.

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    JacobFeb 4, 2015 at 12:37 pm

    Correction: Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity, Inc.

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