Greeks discuss how to become better known, reduce stigmas

Clubs, fraternities and sorority booths at the campus mall on Feb. 14, 2017 (Khone Saysamongdy/The Collegian).

The Greek chapters at Fresno State are on a mission to be taken seriously and lose the stigma surrounding Greek life on and off campus. There are 11 affiliated fraternities and five affiliated sororities at Fresno State, and all 16 chapters want people to take a second look at what Greek life really means.

Recently, at the Greek Life Presidents Retreat, members of Greek councils discussed how to rehabilitate the image and create a more honest perception of sororities and fraternities on campus.

Panhellenic president and student Taylor King said, “A major topic of discussion at the Greek Life Presidents Retreat was the beginning draft for a mission statement for all Greek organizations. Each different Greek council has their own governing documents, but the hope for this new mission statement is to create common goals that all Greek organizations can strive to achieve.”

King said a main goal of the image rehabilitation is to improve relations with students, organizations and clubs. Another goal is to collaborate with non-Greek-related organizations on campus.

“A significant portion of Greek individuals are involved with a variety of phenomenal non-Greek related organizations and are striving to pursue collaborations,” King said.

As a Greek leader, King said, one of her biggest priorities is to listen to the concerns of her peers.

“It is a part of my job to initiate and implement policies and goals to strive for that change,” she said.

Last semester, the Student Involvement Office learned about what the Greek community does and, in turn, the office wanted to promote it to the community.

Rachel Gascon, the Greek life graduate assistant at the university’s Student Involvement Center, said her role is to “listen and be an advocate” for students involved in Greek life.

Gascon said, “Our Greek life community does a lot of wonderful events to improve our surrounding community as well as national philanthropic organizations.”

She said a majority of Greek life members are involved in other departments on campus such as Associated Students Inc., Dog Days, University Student Union board and many more.

“Overall, we want to improve and enhance the Greek life experience for students at Fresno State,” Gascon said.

Austen Radke of Sigma Chi said the biggest stereotype Greek life faces is obvious: large amounts of alcohol consumption, hazing and “obscene debauchery.”

Radke said if he could urge others to understand one thing about Greek life it is that many members are a part of leadership organizations who strive to make a positive impact on the community.

He said, “Greek life is there to give young adults an opportunity to learn and grow while greatly contributing to those around them. The positives of Greek life are often [over]shadowed by those who are selfish and act in a manner that is unbecoming of a member of their organization.”

Radke challenges those who do not understand the Greek life system fully to sit down and have a chat with a member to understand what the values are of a particular fraternity or sorority.

Angelique Ojeda of Kappa Alpha Theta said she is tired of others judging her for wearing Greek letters.

“I’m tired of guys not wanting to take me serious[ly] because they think I’m a ‘party animal’ when in reality I’m always at the [Henry Madden Library],” she said.

As for the stigma of drug use, Ojeda said, “I have sisters in my sorority who have never even tasted alcohol or [used] drugs.”

Ojeda said the three words she would use to describe Greek life are: family, honesty and commitment.

Danitsa Cochran of Kappa Alpha Theta said TV perceptions of fraternities and sororities can be blown out of proportion.

She said, “Most people in the Greek system are hard-working, intelligent and kind. We have a negative reputation that is undeserved, and we wish our community wasn’t viewed in such a harsh light.”

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