“Oh, you’re a member of Sigma Nu? Tell me about your frat.”
This is the question Cody Stout, a Missouri State junior, received while interviewing for an internship.
“I could just tell by his tone of voice that he didn’t respect (Greek life),” says Stout. “Instead of noticing my involvement on my campus, it was brushed off and not taken seriously at all.”
While members of Greek life say they’re used to getting these questions, it’s not something they are happy with.
“If I ever get any kind of negative feedback, I usually just steer the conversation in the direction of how many great things (Greek life) has done for the Springfield community,” says Stout.
This negativity toward Greek life may be an outcome of events like the video of Sigma Alpha Epsilon at the University of Oklahoma chanting racist phrases that went viral March 9.
“I think that what happened at Oklahoma is just sad,” says Courtney Bollig, a Missouri State junior and Alpha Chi Omega member,. “It just hurts me because I know for a fact that there are a lot of fraternities and sororities out there that do not agree with the things that were said in that video.”
Francis Ahrens, a MSU junior and Pi Kappa Phi fraternity member, says there’s more to the video than what meets the eye.
“There are a lot of underlying issues in fraternity and sorority life that aren’t heard until someone posts a video online,” says Ahrens. ” There are people that are not members of the (Greek) community that do not want to join for fear that they will be judged or will not fit in, and that just shouldn’t be the case.”
“Our Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association both have bylaws that completely prevent our fraternities and sororities from discriminating against someone based on their race, sexual orientation, or religion,” says Bollig. “We all proudly stand by that and will continue to move forward.”
Both Stout and Bollig hope to challenge negative perceptions of Greek Life.
“We are right in the middle of our Greek Week, and our (Greek) community has already donated thousands of hours of community service, and well as thousands of dollars,” says Stout. “I am constantly impressed with how our community is able to come together.”
“For those who see that video, and think that is what Greek life really is, they are just flat out wrong,” says Bollig. “If people are willing to open the lines of communication by coming to a philanthropy event, volunteering with us at local charities or even being a chapter’s advisor, they will quickly see that what happened with SAE is not a fair representation at all.”