Greek Life Versus Greek Life

My favourite part of Greek life would definitely have to be the community—the sense of belonging to a culture, being able to connect with people despite never having met them before. The second you meet someone else who is a part of that Greek life, you have an undeniable bond and can relate to each other from experiences of being a part of the Greek community. The same could be said for people who belong to Greek Letter Societies—however, they cannot both be called Greek life. Ultimately, I don’t think that people who are not Greek can justifiably call themselves Greek.

Despite the fact that Greek people have been telling fraternities and sororities for generations that they have no right to call themselves Greek, these groups have persisted, with references to “Going Greek,” “Greek life,” sororities referring to themselves as the “Panhellenic,” and some even going as far to say that they are part of the “Greek community.” It would also be one thing if it were an isolated incident; however, in doing my research for this article, absolutely everyone who gave testimony on their experiences in sororities and fraternities discussed their involvement as being in the “Greek community” or otherwise referencing being “Greek”. In addition to that, people will frequently refer to fraternities and sororities as Greek in casual conversation, and there are websites dedicated to these groups that use “Greek” to identify themselves as being related to Greek letter societies, such as Greek Rank, Greek Life Today, Greek Gear, and many more. On multiple occasions The Gazette has used the term Greek to identify sororities and fraternities, in mainly negative contexts.

The fact that the appropriation is so widespread that it is automatically and frequently used shows that they couldn’t care less about what the actual Greek community has to say. To add insult to injury, many of these groups host “toga parties” in jest, as if wearing the traditional clothing of the ancestors of my land is a joke. I have no issues with these associations referring to themselves as Greek Letter Societies; I just find it baffling that they use our alphabet so nonsensically. At least it would be accurate to refer to themselves as such. To call themselves Greek implies that they think they have as much, or more, right to calling themselves Greek as actual Greek people do, which is disrespectful and wrong.

      My family sitting on our front porch in Kefalonia, Greece.

My heritage is a major part of my identity. Greek culture is rich and complex and when others take the same name because of a flimsy connection, it feels as though something is being stolen from us. Our language is beautiful, our country stunning, our food among the most delicious in the world, and when others detract from that by naming themselves after us to identify with a culture that is completely unrelated, and not always complimentary, it hurts.

For the past 4 years, I’ve lived with my grandparents—who were born and raised in Greece—and my connection with my Greek identity, and my appreciation of my Greek culture have only increased. Being part of Greek life, being a member of the Greek community, belonging to a Greek family is one of the most important aspects of my life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about sororities and fraternities, so the intention of this article is not to attack these groups. Quite frankly, while I would never want to be a part of a sorority, this article is not about that. It is about asking for respect and consideration.

So please, during this rush week—and in the future—I implore those of you who are in sororities and fraternities to reconsider how you refer to yourselves. To those of you who are not in these groups, or are considering joining these groups, I ask you to consider what I have written when you see these groups, and speak up on my behalf, and on behalf of the generations of Greek people who have been saying the same things long before me.

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