Few television shows have drawn as much attention from the fraternity and sorority community as ABC Family’s Greek (airing Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. EST). Perhaps this is because the show uses Greek Life at fictitious Cyprus-Rhodes University in Ohio as the centerpiece of many storylines and delves into issues that hit home to us like recruitment, pledge education, hazing and social functions.
Predictably, the show drew scrutiny from leaders in the fraternity and sorority community, who worried that the show’s portrayal of large parties and casual alcohol consumption diminishes the importance of Greek Life. Indeed, the plot is a bit sensationalist at times and, undoubtedly, members of the Cyprus-Rhodes Greek Community face more unlikely situations than most Greek communities face in one year (or than this guy faces in one evening).
However, we should accept this fact of dramatic television: it will always trend to the sensational. I’m sure most trial lawyers roll their eyes at shows like Law & Order and very few medical professionals experience shifts similar to those portrayed on Grey’s Anatomy. And let’s face it: the themes that make us cringe – from loud and boisterous social events to the casual execution of hazing – are, unfortunately, regularly perpetrated by a few deviant members of the Greek community. And while these aren’t your members, or students on your campus, they wear Greek letters all the same.
What we should recognize are the helpful lessons that are pulled from the show’s script. In the first episode of Season 4, for instance, the Kappa Tau Gamma Fraternity needed to appoint a new pledge educator (Wade, the previous new member educator, was expelled for launching a police car off a parking ramp). Rusty, the nerdy sophomore, is hastily appointed and begins the task of educating the new members on relevant fraternity history.
Super-senior Cappie, however, does not trust that Rusty will be able to handle the task on his own and appoints other senior brothers to oversee and oftentimes undermine Rusty’s legitimate educational efforts. This textbook scenario of ‘too many pledge educators in the pledge meeting’ explodes when Rusty insists that his pledges are required to go to a campus event. Cappie counters by telling the pledge class that they ‘don’t have to go’ and can instead stay at the chapter house playing video games.
Do older members undermine the efforts of your Candidate Marshal? The topic of establishing a Candidate Education Committee – and weighing the pros and cons of utilizing assistant candidate educators – is explored in the new Marshal Officer Manual.
Additionally, an old interfraternal friendship is ruined when Evan Chambers, a senior member of Omega Chi Delta, abandons Cappie and other members of Kappa Tau Gamma during a campus prank (see: expulsion of Wade above). Evan claimed that the move was necessary, an action that won him favor within his own fraternity, even with the cost of abandoning a close friendship with a member of another fraternity.
Can you name one chapter on your campus for whom members hold disdain? Instead of focusing your efforts on ‘getting even’ or making life miserable for another fraternity on campus, dedicate your chapter’s efforts to improving campus relations with other student organizations (both Greek and non-Greek). In fact, these efforts will serve your chapter well in the ‘Campus Leadership’ subcategory of the Pursuit of Excellence Program.