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‘SNAPPED’ Unveils the World of Rape Culture, Racism, & Body-Shaming Within Sororities

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Columbia Barnard chapter.

Sororities are often painted through the lens of community; many advertise themselves as the best way to make life-long family, instant friendships, and the key to a thriving social life. For many sororities, this is the opposite of what their members receive. Lucy Taylor, a 2020 graduate of the University of Maryland, portrays a version of Greek life beyond the shiny pamphlet. In her podcast, “SNAPPED,” she provides an uncensored view of sorority life, tracking her journey from rushing a top-tier sorority to her eventual disaffiliation. 

Taylor originally relished in the friendships and parties her exclusive top-tier sorority life provided her. However, the months after her freshman year, things started to change. That summer, she posted a bikini picture that caused her to be “SNAPPED” — a marker from her sorority that the photo was too risque and thus should not have been posted. Due to this photo, Taylor faced the consequences of sexist and demeaning policies and had begun to lose her support network within the sorority.  

This was not the final time Taylor felt unsupported by her sorority sisters, as that next fall she was raped by a fraternity pledge; her sisters were sympathetic, but Taylor began to realize that sexual assault and misconduct were a far too often occurrence in the Greek life system. Taylor found that many in her sorority had begun to normalize this type of situation as just bad experiences rather than what it actually was. 

In the middle of that semester, she made the brave decision to disaffiliate and move out of her sorority house. Since her disaffiliation, Taylor has been an advocate for education on the realities of Greek life and the abolishment of the Greek system altogether. “Abolishing the system is the only way for change. I don’t think it’s the system can be reformed,” Taylor says. 

A year after her assault, Taylor began wanting to speak out about the dangers of sororities and fraternities. She started writing down every little detail of her year in her sorority so she wouldn’t forget, thinking she would eventually create a six-part web series. She held off from initially making the web series because she “still really didn’t feel a sense of closure with it.” 

In the fall of her senior year, she went abroad and took a podcast production course. She had already begun making the web series and had recorded the majority of the episodes, but “didn’t really feel one hundred percent” about her creation.  

It was during her podcasting course that Taylor realized her story would work really well as a podcast. “I realized that this story actually would work really well as a podcast because I wanted the listeners to really be there with me in the moment.” She also mentioned that it was sounds that truly allowed readers to be in her shoes and empathize with her experiences. 

Before even beginning to think about the project, Taylor had to come to terms with what happened to her. While sexual assault was extremely normalized within her sorority, there also still remains a stigma about women who report misconduct. In the beginning, she didn’t want to categorize what happened to her as rape. “It was such a casual experience that I felt I couldn’t label it as such a harsh word.” However, now Taylor is sharing her story to create more conversations around rape culture and Greek life.

Rape culture runs rampant on college campuses across the world. Statistically, sorority members are more likely to be sexually assaulted than other college students and members of fraternities are 300 percent more likely to rape. According to Taylor, statistics like these should not be surprising because “Greek life gives rape culture a direct platform,” she says. “It’s a system that’s working exactly how it’s meant to work. You know, it’s set up for abuses of power.”

Not only is hazing a common occurrence in Greek life, but the system is also built to pit members against one another. “There’s these power dynamics of younger girl versus older girl, and that’s just tradition at this point, it’s just ingrained in the culture.” 

It is the systemic culture abuse and power structures encouraging members to feel threatened by their declared “sister” that made Taylor believe Greek life must be abolished. The final episode of “SNAPPED” titled “ABOLISH” discusses the reasons why Taylor believes that Greek life as a whole is a system that should be dissolved. “Greek life was built off of sexism and racism and, just in general, exclusivity. When a system is built off of that, it’s a system that cannot be reformed.”

You can listen to SNAPPED on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. 

Elizabeth Karpen

Columbia Barnard '22

Lizzie Karpen is 2022 graduate of Barnard College, the most fuego of women’s colleges, who studied Political Science and English with a concentrations in Film and American Literature. To argue with her very unpopular opinions, send her a message at @lizziekarpen on Instagram and Twitter. To read her other work, check out Elizabethkarpen.com.