EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is the first column of what will now be a regular feature in The Free Press intended to address stereotypes about underrepresented groups within the USM community.

It’s Greek to You?

Being Greek at the University of Southern Maine may not be what you think it is.

I know that when I first came to this school I had the same stereotypes about Greek life that I am now trying to fight. You know, the ones that all Greek organizations haze, drink too much, that the girls are all bimbos, and the guys are all womanizing jerks.

I came to realize that these stereotypes only describe about 3 percent of the Greek community. As for the other 97 percent, they are your average students here for an education, but they decided to join a sorority or fraternity instead of one of the other hundreds of student groups at our university.

And so, I am Greek. I am part of a sorority. So what do I do as a Greek? Pretty much the same as anyone else at this school. I get up and go to class, I go to work, I do my homework and I take tests.

On the weekends I hang out with friends, and yes I party, but is that because I am Greek? Somehow I don’t think so. I have friends outside of my sorority and they like to party too. I would hate to be biased and say that only Greeks know how to party. Oh, and I did say I have friends outside my sorority? Well yes I did, I am allowed to have friends other than my sisters.

I really don’t pay for any of my friends, even the ones who are in my sorority. They don’t get to go out and buy fun stuff with the money I give our organization for dues and insurance purposes. It’s a nice idea, but not a reality.

What else do I do as a Greek? I participate in philanthropies at the very least once a week. What is philanthropy? By dictionary definition it is the effort or inclination to increase human well being, as by charitable aid. Such as working at soup kitchens, helping raise money for the Red Cross, participating in walks for various diseases, volunteering at STRVE, or decorating the children’s cancer ward at Maine Medical Center, just to name a few. I also participate in fundraisers to keep our organization financially secure and to help fund our philanthropies.

I wear the letters of my organization on shirts and hats because I am proud of what I belong to and of what I accomplish by being a part of my organization. I have grown a lot as a person by joining a group of women who work together as a team in everything they do, a group of women who enjoy doing good for others, a group of women who are my friends.

I know that I cannot change everybody’s minds about what Greeks do and who they are, and I know that some Greeks really do fit the stereotypes. But maybe next time you see someone wearing letters you can think of things besides funneling beers and fake friendships, like what we give back to the community and that we are people too. And maybe instead of giving me a glare maybe try to give a smile, as you do on the days I don’t wear my letters.

Molly Komar, junior, criminology major, Kappa Iota

If your group is interested in submitting a column about your experience with stereotypes contact Steve Peoples at: [email protected]

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