U Frats Strive to Transcend Pop Culture Portrayals

The film “Neighbors,” starring Zac Efron and Seth Rogen, released earlier this year, depicts Greek life as the stereotypical image of university students abusing drugs and alochol.
Nickolas Robbins, assistant dean of students and the primary advisor for Greek life on campus, said he was skeptical when ASUU came to the Greek Council about airing “Neighbors” as part of its free film series.
“We [worked through] the pros and cons of what people see in movies like that,” Robbins said. “We’re doing a lot of work to dispel those stereotypes. It’s little things like that that take the entire community backwards.”
Robbins said the Greek Council decided to deny the screening of the film due to the impact it might have on the image of Greek life. The film’s slot was replaced with “Pitch Perfect.”
Around 1,200 of the U’s approximate 24,000 undergraduates are in fraternities this semester, and about 1,700 are in sororities, according to the Office of Budget and Institutional Analysis.
Michael Nelson, a junior in entertainment arts and engineering, said there is some truth to depictions found in “Neighbors.”
“The beer kegs, the funnels, the really awful hazing experiences … and then you hear a lot about rape in sororities and fraternities,” Nelson said.
Alcohol has never been allowed in sororities, but the U’s fraternities became alcohol-free just last year. Fraternities can apply for different alcohol waivers — one to allow alcohol in the house and another for small social events with under 60 people. Members must have a GPA average above the university average, be in good standing with the U and get signed off by chapter sponsors.
Jake Elliott, a sophomore in entertainment arts and engineering, said not all fraternities and sororities involve alcohol at social events.
“I went to some triangle parties in Oklahoma with my sister,” Elliott said. “We played board games.”
Nathan Taylor, a sophomore in computer science, said he thinks movies do not dampen the image of Greek life, but reports of rape and hazings in the media do.
Men in a fraternity are three times as likely to commit sexual assault on campus than men not in a fraternity, according to a 2007 study published by the NASPA foundation.
Robbins said the philanthropy and networking in Greek life outweigh the bad reputation it often gets.
“[We’re] trying to redefine and understand what it means to be a part of a sorority or a fraternity in 2014,” Robbins said. “Times are different — what is socially acceptable is different. There has been a history of hazing, of alcohol abuse [and] of sexual assault. While we have had incidences related to those problems on our campus, we haven’t had the same kind of problems that happen nationally.”
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@SeymourSkimmer