The day I moved into my sorority house, I was presented with a list of rules accompanied by a mirroring list of fines members must pay if caught breaking any of the rules. I was shocked to see a $250 fine for having anyone of the opposite gender in our room. If we were caught with alcohol on the premises, we would face a trip to standards — a trial conducted by other members of the sorority — and a fine that could pay for a semester’s worth of textbooks.
Looking at the seemingly never-ending list of rules upset me; not because they were too strict, but because the fraternities on campus don’t face any of the same regulations or punishments.
It begins during recruitment. Women stand in alphabetical order — following a dress code they were given weeks ago — and wait to attend “parties” where rushees speak to sorority members who perform highly rehearsed songs, dances and scripted conversational topics that have been rendered as “safe.”
“Don’t talk about the 3 B’s: Boys, booze and Barack,” we were told. These topics were declared too controversial, and we had to stick to topics that are comfortable for women to speak on — such as makeup and summer vacations.
Men, on the other hand, simply have informal meetings with a handful of older members during which they drink and chat in a comfortable environment.
This teaches women they are incapable of independence and need firm guidelines in order to make a decision or have a valid opinion. We are told to showcase only the flattering, socially acceptable parts of our personalities and to not talk about things we are passionate about.
Once recruitment is over and women have actually pledged sororities, the sexism goes much deeper.
Fraternities and sororities on campus are not regulated under the same association. OU houses 11 National Panhellenic Conference sororities, all of which are required to follow the policies created by the Panhellenic Association. The 18 nationally recognized fraternities on campus are regulated by the Interfraternity Council. However, Norman Campus Student Policies is supposed to rule over everyone on campus.
The student handbook Student Alcohol Policy states, “All fraternities, sororities, and residence halls shall be dry. Alcoholic beverages will not be allowed inside fraternity houses, sorority houses and OU residence halls or on the grounds surrounding them. Fraternity officers and members will sign an agreement to abide by this policy, which will be strongly enforced.”
Anyone who has been to a fraternity house or party on this campus knows the policy is a joke. Fraternities are rampant with alcohol and underage drinking. Occasionally, it will receive a strike or other mild form of punishment for getting caught with alcohol, seemingly to keep other fraternities in check, but usually this campus turns a blind eye to what happens behind fraternity walls. Apparently the “strongly enforced” alcohol policy only refers to sororities.
This double-standard sends the message that women need to surrender control to men if they want to drink and go out in college. Men in fraternities control who is allowed into the party, who gets to drink the alcohol and what goes into the “punch” they serve.
Women are expected to drink whatever the fraternity members serve them without question. At my first “frat lap” freshman year, I heard a girl ask a fraternity member what was in the drink he handed her.
“Aw, don’t worry, we didn’t put too much Everclear,” he said with a laugh. When the girl questioned him a second time he seemed aggravated and responded, “Just be grateful we’re giving you free alcohol and drink it.”
As I sat in my sorority house writing this article, one of my friends asked me what I was writing about. When I replied I was writing about sexism in the greek system, she asked me what I meant.
“I don’t think the greek system is sexist,” she said.
Misogyny is so internalized and ingrained into the greek system that people aren’t even aware it’s happening.
The greek system is frightening because the unequal treatment of men and women is not always overt. Women are told they’re being brought together in the name of sisterhood and don’t realize they’re being oppressed at the same time. This campus will never truly become a place of equality until deep internal changes are made within the greek system.
Editor's note: At the columnist's request, we would like to clarify that columnists' opinions are their own — they are not necessarily representative of The Daily's views. In this particular case, the columnist was not writing on behalf of her chapter.