Can't shake the Sigma stigma

By Wade Jones
At Fitchburg State University, as well as other universities across the country, Greek life has gained somewhat of a bad reputation. It is one based on the idea that the men and women of fraternities and sororities are a clique of party-goers and a number of other stigmas that I will omit.
The question is, why? Why has Greek life gotten such a bad reputation? What’s really going on behind those letters that members of these organizations wear so proudly across their chests?
According to Josh Whipple, vice president of membership in the Sigma Tau Gamma fraternity, the answer is simple. “Movies,” he said, unblinking. “Movies, the media, TV – they all portray fraternities and sororities as a bunch of meat-head jocks and the typical ‘dumb blonds.’ Nobody gets to see the actual organization and business aspects of it all, not to mention the actual camaraderie. It’s like a legit family. These are my brothers that have my back and vice versa.”
So what is the business aspect, exactly?
“Our organizations are all self-sufficient,” Whipple explained. “We run numerous programs for fundraising as well as earn money for, generally, a new philanthropy every year or so. We are built on several principles that focus on leadership and how to better ourselves and the community we are part of. We try to represent our organizations and school as best as we can.”
You may see Sig Tau running events around campus quite often throughout the school year.
“You’ll see us around doing bake sales, running numerous ‘a-thons’ as well as helping out with events for the school and the city,” Whipple said. “It’s a business and, generally, businesses are run on [public relations] and money. It’s our job to get out there and keep the ball rolling.”
What kinds of causes does Greek life contribute to? Whipple listed a few, including breast-cancer awareness, autism research, and assisting the homeless, as well as helping out with events like the Special Olympics and Red Cross blood drives.
“We’re a pretty exclusive group of people,” Whipple said. “You have to be ready to step your game up. We’re exclusive, but we’re also very welcoming to anyone that is willing to put in the effort and work toward a good cause. I think I speak for Sig Tau as well as Sigma Pi [the only other fraternity on campus] and all three sororities. I would like to see Greek life grow and I think the school would benefit from it.”
So how can students get involved? Whipple joked, “Pledge and find out.” He continued, “In all reality, you can find us all over campus. Just look for the funny-looking letters on people’s clothes.”