PR & Progress
When asked to talk about what struggles the fraternity/sorority world faces, I was at a loss. After all, most fraternity/sorority leaders feel their organizations are filled with spirit and good intentions. The fraternity/sorority community is complete with brotherhood, sisterhood, and a sense of community. Our organizations work with national campaigns and philanthropies to inspire change we wish to see. Fraternity/sorority members have always been incredibly active with community service. From the beginning, fraternity/sorority members have been creating positive tangible impacts in our communities where ever we go. So, why is it that it doesn’t always feel this way?
Everyone in the fraternity/sorority community knows that we do good things. Still to this day, the one thing that fraternity/sorority members on a national level struggle with is our public perception. It’s no secret to us and there are some very negative stereotypes that revolve around this particular lifestyle. Here I am going to discuss those stereotypes, provide evidence that does not support the negative perception, and come up with ways to better our community.
The first and most predominate PR issue that fraternity/sorority life suffers from is drinking and perceived party culture. Even before I came to college, my school and fellow classmates warned me that fraternities drink more than anyone on college campuses and have a toxic drinking culture. After coming to school, I realized that it wasn’t true. The fact of the matter is that other groups of people drink as well, not just fraternity/sorority members. It is ludicrous to say that the fraternity/sorority community is solely responsible for the binge drinking culture on college campuses. As a new member in my fraternity, I vividly remember having to take multiple alcohol awareness classes, providing evidence that there is at least education surrounding alcohol consumption.
The second most harmful stereotype in my opinion is that the entire fraternity/sorority community is purposefully exclusive. As a member who is actively involved in recruitment, I can tell you from first-hand experience that the fraternity/sorority community wants everyone to join and holds an extensive amount of recruitment events, so the majority of people can join. There are groups that support a range of interests and identities. Aside from financial obligations and the fact that there may not be chapters on a specific campus, there are national organizations that promote various ideas and concepts.
One reason fraternity/sorority life is obtaining this negative image is because of the increasing use of social media. Through many different social media outlets, a select few members of the fraternity/sorority community are highlighted doing some unbecoming or inappropriate things. These images of a select few are sadly projected, making those who are unaffiliated perceive the entire community as bad. In reality, those posts only speak to those few individuals. With this being said, there are plenty of instances where fraternity/sorority life has negatively affected lives through hazing, for example, and this impact should not be minimalized.
Fraternity/sorority members from across the nation need to focus on our PR campaign to promote the good work we do every day. If we can effectively communicate all the progress we make in the fraternity/sorority community and beyond, then maybe we can counteract the negative image that has been presented. It’s our duty to show the world that we raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for charitable causes. We must show the world, through social media, that we are making a tangible, positive difference at every campus where there is fraternity/sorority life. In my experience, fraternity/sorority life is a welcoming community open to all who wish to join, and with a collective effort, from all fraternity/sorority members on a national scale, we can truly show the world what we are about and how great our community truly is.