Photo by Paige Horsley.
BREANNA WILSON | OPINION COLUMNIST | email@example.com
Greek life is a large part of campus life at Butler with approximately 35-38% of students participating in either a social fraternity or sorority.
Coming to Butler, I did not expect to be a part of this number. However, after seeing Panhellenic events in the fall, I knew I had to be a part of it. Growing up with a brother, I never had that sisterhood bond that many get out of being in a sorority, which was why joining Greek life appealed to me. The ability to support other women and be supported, while sharing personal experiences, were just some of the many reasons why I decided to join.
Preaching love and support for one another is at the forefront of Butler Greek life, especially within the Panhellenic Association sororities at Butler or “Panhel,” which references the Greek identity of the sorority houses on campus. The Butler Panhellenic community refers to this support as “Panhel love.” This term reflects the support and love each sorority is supposed to have for each other and the idea that we can coexist with each other as separate organizations. Though this idea seems lovely in principle, its real-life application is far from the idea of “women supporting women.”
Since Butler has seven sorority houses, students have a variety of opportunities to figure out where they fit best. The idea of finding your group and living with these students for a minimum of one year can breed cliquiness and superiority based on the look or social presence of a specific house. With many impressionable students coming in during the fall and seeing which houses “outshine” others, it can be disheartening for individuals in the houses to feel like their sorority is at the bottom of the social hierarchy. When I came to Butler, I noticed how other houses were more talked about than others and their presence on campus was larger than their neighbors.
With recruitment being in person for the first time this year since the COVID-19 pandemic, many in this year’s recruitment class felt that spring recruitment was still very cliquey with some friend groups joining the same houses and already being acquainted with each other. This left others struggling to find their sense of sisterhood. I saw many of my friends struggle within the first few weeks after recruitment with making new friends, especially when girls had already known each other and were unwilling to make friends outside of their respective friend groups and their house. I was lucky to have a really close friend end up in the same sorority, but others weren’t as lucky.
First-year biology major Molly Kubal, who joined Alpha Chi Omega, felt a sense of cliquiness before and during recruitment within the pool of potential new members. Additionally, some potential new members, including Kubal, felt like they had to act or look a certain way that was disingenuous to their true selves in fear of being rejected by specific houses.
“I feel like many times during recruitment, I feel forced to act or portray myself a certain way,” Kubal said. “I felt like I had to please the [potential new members] around me and the houses.”
Because of this cliquiness, many people tend to have negative feelings surrounding certain houses. This has bred a plethora of stereotypes about each house. With apps such as YikYak, it is easy for rumors and harmful opinions about certain houses to be made accessible to Butler’s student body.
Natalie Long, a senior history-anthropology major and former member of a sorority on campus, has witnessed how certain stereotypes can affect sororities.
“I feel the stereotypes are definitely harmful,” Long said. “Especially on YikYak you see a lot of stuff slandering other sororities … but I feel it is definitely harmful for different houses’ reputations.”
With the growing amount of stereotypes surrounding each house, it is very difficult for Panhel to maintain its supportive and positive facade.
I feel Butler Panhel has tried and failed to create a supportive environment through the requirement of supporting other houses’ events each semester. Additionally, “Panhel love” merch is sold to promote camaraderie between the houses, but some women feel like this is not enough to create a supportive environment.
Though Kubal feels supported by her own house, the support she feels from other sororities here isn’t the same.
“The women in my house are supportive because we all kinda live under the same roof and share the AXO name,” Kubal said. “But when it comes to other houses, it can be difficult to connect with the other girls.”
Struggling to find a support system inside and outside of your house isn’t the struggle that sorority members face. Since Greek life plays a large role in social and nightlife here at Butler, it can sometimes be difficult to find your place outside of it. In the last year, the recruitment class was the largest it had been in years, showing that Greek life is a growing entity on this campus. Some even believe that Butler is too supportive of Greek life, making it seem like it is the only way for students to be involved in a large and somewhat loving community.
Long feels like the emphasis on Greek life at Butler has caused students to join Greek life for fear of missing out. As a result, students can struggle with finding their group or feeling accepted within Greek life, even though they may have joined Greek life in order to find community.
“I think that [Greek life] can be very exclusionary, and it definitely does have a lot of negative aspects when you’re not involved in Greek life,” Long said. “And just as a whole, Greek life in general anywhere [is] based on not good things like elitism.”
As a member of the Panhellenic community, I have seen how the environment Butler has created around Panhel has caused tension and created a fearful and toxic environment for Panhel.
While Butler’s Panhellenic sororities have made progress when it comes to uniting the houses, it still has a long way to go when creating a warm and welcoming environment. The future of Butler’s Panhellenic sororities seems unsure, but for now, let’s continue to try to love thy neighbor, literally.