5 Most Troubling Sorority Scandals

Movies like Animal House glorify the humorous tomfoolery many people associate with stereotypical Greek life on college campuses. In recent years, though, a number of exposés on the darker sides of fr

Movies like Animal House glorify the humorous tomfoolery many people associate with stereotypical Greek life on college campuses. In recent years, though, a number of exposés on the darker sides of fraternity life have come to the fore. It seems that young women in sororities face the same kinds of social pressure, exclusion, and dangerous hazing that is often only associated with fraternities. In today’s world there is most certainly an archetype for the “sorority girl” – think, Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods, for example. And, like any ‘type,’ this is a narrow view of an enormous group of young women all over the country.

Yet, as some of the examples below will show, there is often enormous pressure for girls in sorority life to conform to the so-called standards of the stereotypical lifestyle. Many accounts of hazing incidents in sororities include putting the young women on display in front of fraternity brothers and fellow ‘sisters’; in one upsetting example, pledges at Young Harris College were allegedly forced to sit on a washing machine and had any body part that jiggled circled with a Sharpie pen.  Still more women have reported such instances of emotional and physical abuse upon pledging a sorority.

Many of these incidents are results of specific misguided decisions and are not endemic in Greek life in general. The problem, however, is the broader culture surrounding fraternities and sororities; peer pressure and crowd mentality which seems to influence its members to participate in group behaviors that are, at times, downright horrifying. The point of Greek life is to forge meaningful relationships with the other men or women, and to feel at home both with them and within the chapter’s history. Inclusion in a specialized group provides confidence and comfort, and can act as an important part of anyone’s college experience. That being said, universities which support the Greek system need to be cautious about the kind of messages they send regarding the purpose of these campus groups.

The most scandalous and troubling incidents occur when sororities and fraternities cease to be a welcoming support network and mutate into groups with socially exclusive and psychologically damaging rituals.  Lethal amounts of alcohol, body shaming, and sexual humiliation are hardly the building blocks of any kind of sisterhood. These misguided methods of integration involve offenses that no one – especially no college freshman or sophomore – deserves. One hopes that, in the future, Greek life can continue to flourish on campuses as a friendship-forming and important resource, as it is intended to be. In the meantime, these examples of sororities gone wrong might serve as cautionary tales.

5 University of Alabama segregation accusations

In 2013, the University of Alabama sorority Gamma Delta came under fire after an exposé in The Crimson White (a student paper) reported that at least four sorority chapters had denied a black woman a bid because of her race. Troublingly, the university’s Greek organizations have been segregated by race since the first black students enrolled and created their own social organizations. In the wake of the Crimson’s article, many other students voiced similar allegations, some claiming that alumnae had threatened to cut funding to their chapters if black recruits were accepted.

4 Rutgers University Sigma Gamma Rho sorority hazing

3 Offensive party thrown by Columbia's Kappa Alpha Theta

2 Dartmouth Kappa Kappa Gamma pledge reveals hazing story

1 University of Maryland Delta Gamma sorority email goes viral

In April of 2013, a Delta Gamma sorority sister’s almost humorously vicious, insult-ridden email to her fellow sisters leaked and went viral. The impetus for the email was the sisters’ inability to participate in Greek Week duties, including schmoozing with their ‘matchup’ fraternity Sigma Nu. Among myriad other accusations, this sister attacked the girls of Delta Gamma of “LITERALLY being so f—king AWKWARD and…BORING.” She reminds them, “FRATS DON’T LIKE BORING SORORITIES.” Ultimately, the letter accuses the girls of socializing amongst themselves as opposed to making a good impression for their senior Greek partners and fraternity counterpart Sigma Nu.

After the email was released and gained significant notoriety, the sorority sister who sent it resigned. The sorority released an official apology for the scandal, stating, “the tone and content of the email was highly inappropriate and…should not reflect on any sorority woman in general or any fraternal organization at large.” If you’re curious, you can read the entire email here. If you’re offended by off-color language, though, you might want to skip it.

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5 Most Troubling Sorority Scandals