Taking the "Greek" out of fraternities and sororities

by Allison Hagan / Beacon Staff • January 13, 2016

Jason Meier has spearheaded the rebranding of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Jason Meier has spearheaded the rebranding of Fraternity and Sorority Life.

Formerly called Greek Life, Emerson’s Fraternity and Sorority Life is going through a rebranding process in order to distance themselves from negative stereotypes.

The department announced their new name in November and has since been trying to change attitudes about the organizations on campus.

Jason Meier, director of student activities, works with the college’s eight recognized fraternities and sororities, and he said Emerson’s fraternities and sororities are not changing their practices, just the words used to describe them. The purpose of the rebrand is to be more intentional about calling Greek life processes and events what they are, rather than staying with outdated terms.  This updated terminology includes changing phrases like “pledging” to “new member education.”

Much of the rebrand will be updating internal and external documents, such as the Student Handbook and pages on Emerson’s website, according to Meier. Since the announcement, there’s been initial hesitation from some alumni and students about letting go of traditions, which Meier said he expected.

“Names are everywhere, so it’s going to take a while to catch them all,” Meier said. “Culture shift takes time.”

According to Meier, these stigmas of hazing, heavy drinking, and sexual behavior are not reflected in Emerson’s fraternity and sorority community, and they never have been.

“We’re serious about best practices and making our words and our deeds match up,” Meier said. “Our organizations don’t haze and they don’t throw these crazy parties or do these stereotype things you see other chapters do.”

Jamie Silverstein, graduate assistant of student activities, said the rebrand not only addresses the Emerson community’s perceptions about fraternities and sororities, but also how the members of these organizations view themselves.

“The rebrand is about each individual chapter becoming the best they can be,” Silverstein said. “We have such great students at Emerson so why can’t we try to achieve more?”

Fraternity and Sorority Council, formerly known as Greek Council, is an organization in place to Fraternity serve as a support system for all chapters. Hannah Perrin, a senior journalism major and president of the organization, said she appreciates the new terminology.

“I never felt inferior or attacked or violated,” Perrin said. “I always felt empowered. Using proper words for what we are actually doing here at Emerson is a great change.”

According to Perrin, the next steps are to make official updates to council’s constitution and continue to answer questions about the changes.

“There are people who hold on to traditions and old ideas,” Perrin said, “Some alumni question it until you explain the good it’s going to bring. We’re making new traditions and learning about our origins.”

 

Editor-in-chief Claire Nobles and Managing Editor Hunter Harris, who are involved in Emerson sororities, did not edit this article.