Fraternities call for “open communication” to challenge FSL stereotypes
While fraternities have confronted national Fraternity and Sorority Life stereotypes through community service, diversity and education, members agree a bridge of communication must be built within the FSL community to succeed in changing.
An image James Holloway, Interfraternity Council Vice President of Recruitment, said lingers as an FSL stereotype is the white, affluent members.
“I’m a half Chinese, English, Danish, Native American and Polynesian member,” Holloway said. “I don’t fit the stereotype and I think there are many like that. The more we’re able to recruit, the more we’ll be able to include diversity.”
Holloway said many fraternities are distinct with not only an array of races, but also a variety of ideas that allow chapters to grow.
Other stereotypes associated with FSL nationally include high sexual violence, hazing and alcohol abuse problems, Phi Gamma Delta (Fiji) president, Michael Lyford said.
“Our leaders are working hard to fight it, but it’s a culture entrenched in the culture,” Lyford said.
Fiji has focused on sexual assault as their philanthropy last spring and raised $2,000 for “Men Can Stop Rape,” an organization that empowers men to solve their issues without violence. The fraternity is planning to combine the money raised with ASUO funds and help from the Men’s Center to develop conversations about sexual assault within fraternities.
“Really for the world, there are a lot of conflicts and it’s because people aren’t listening and having open conversations,” Lyford said.
Fiji is also working to improve their community service participation.
Another FSL stereotype is the label of an exclusive community, Mitchell Parks, Delta Upsilon vice president of membership education, said.
The fraternity has worked toward enriching not only the college experience, but the life experience as well, by volunteering for organizations like Food Love, Friends of Trees, Food For Lane County and more, Parks said.
“We promote the bonds of friendship that will get us farther,” Parks said.
Both Lyford and Parks say a deeper integration of the FSL community is needed to help keep the momentum going to have conversations around challenging stereotypes.
“We’ve galvanized over sexual assault issues, [but] some people lose focus on why we’re here,” Parks said.
Parks said committees like the FSL Task Force for Sexual Violence Prevention, a group committed to preventing sexual violence within FSL, helps bridge a line of communication in increasing their positive impact on the University of Oregon community.
“Sororities and the community can help [through] constructive criticism,” Parks said.
Lyford said UO students, staff and FSL members choosing to speak up when there is something wrong will help in fighting FSL stereotypes.
“Where we are now isn’t where we need to be, where we want to be,” Lyford said.
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