TLC has upset Miami University’s Greek system with the introduction a new reality television show called Sorority Girls. The show follows five American sorority sisters as they launch the first sorority in the United Kingdom. The premise is simple: exploit the drama and stereotypes of Greek life.
Since the premiere Jan. 31, Greek organizations across the country, including at Miami, are signing petitions requesting the show’s cancelation. According to Miami’s PanHellenic Association, the series depicts sorority girls and the Greek system inaccurately. Instead of celebrating its high standards of academic and philanthropic achievement, the show focuses on the negative qualities, which emphasize partying, hazing and bad female behavior.
The editorial board of The Miami Student commends Miami’s Greek system for uniting to address the issue of reinforcing negative stereotypes. While the show is designed to exaggerate situations of drama for ratings, its portrayal of sorority sisters devalues the history of Greek life. The petition is a good first step for Greek organizations to take a stance but this is only the beginning if real change is the goal.
Stereotypes that characterize sororities and fraternities as vapid, unruly, selfish and inconsiderate are powerful to overcome. While such stereotypes exist, members of the Greek system are in the ideal position to fix their own image.
The board recommends members of the Greek system who feel adamant about removing TLC’s new series to grow more vocal about the cause. Prove to America that sororities are not full of “valley girls” who only care about the newest Tory Burch ballet flat. Likewise, proof that fraternity brothers do more than just play beer pong is necessary. If stereotypes are going to be overcome it takes those directly impacted to make a monumental change.
Ultimately, the board recognizes the Greek organizations’ emphasis on high academic standards. In particular, sororities are great vehicles to advance female issues in a time when women are becoming more dominant in terms of numbers in higher education.
But Greek chapters cannot achieve success alone. The university needs to acknowledge the flaws of stereotypical perspectives.
At Miami, there is a pronounced double standard, in terms of discipline in the Greek system over the past few years. The severity of punishment is frequently higher for sororities than fraternities, including suspension for some sororities while fraternities are placed on probation. This is just one of many things that need to change in order to see a change in Greek life stereotyping. However, it is in the hands of members in the Greek system to make efforts toward revitalizing its seemingly damaged image.