ISU greek community works to fight stereotypes

Lindsay Barsness

Although about 13 percent of ISU students are in the greek system at Iowa State, there are many stereotypes associated with the greek community on campus.

Greek community leaders are looking to dispel these myths – including a stereotype about the lack of racial and ethnic diversity in the community.

“I think we work on [diversity issues] as well as ISU does,” said Kelly Koeppel, Panhellenic Council president.

Andrew Wrightsman, Interfraternity Council president, said the ISU greek community has a place for every student. The community is looking into new fraternities and sororities that appeal specifically to Latino students on campus, he said.

Sigma Lambda Gamma, a historically Latina sorority, started last year.

Koeppel, senior in child and family services, said this sorority has the choice to become a part of the Panhellenic Council on campus or the national council, to which off-campus sororities and fraternities belong.

“On the national level, [Sigma Lambda Gamma] has to associate themselves with a specific organization, not necessarily the traditional greek system, because they are considered a colony,” said Susana Mu¤oz, Sigma Lambda Gamma adviser.

Keianna Chatman belongs to Delta Sigma Theta sorority, an off-campus, African-American sorority. Iowa State has never funded off-campus sororities and fraternities because there tends to be a lesser number of African-American students in them, she said.

“We are funded by alumni and current students, which makes it difficult at times to raise money,” said Chatman, junior in English.

This year, on-and off-campus greeks are working together for Habitat for Humanity and other fund-raisers, she said.

Chatman said her sorority is looking into a building fund for a future house for off-campus members.

Alisa Frandsen, director of greek affairs, said diversity is something the greek community strives for each year.

“I encourage everyone during recruitment to appeal to and appreciate differences different people could bring to their chapter,” she said.

Wrightsman, senior in management information systems, said he sees the media and movies as a reason why these stereotypes have come along.

“Movies such as Animal House have portrayed [greek communities] as party places,” he said. “The greek system was set up on literary and moral values, not just partying.”

Along with values for the entire community, the individual houses have their own values, Koeppel said.

“Every house has certain values they instill in their houses,” she said.

Some of the values in the Panhellenic Creed are to support the young women in the greek system and to be the best they can be through education and community service, she said.

“We support our women to be scholarly and have high standards for themselves and their chapters,” Koeppel said.

Frandsen said she thinks all organizations are going to have stereotypes put on them.

“Stereotypes are everywhere,” she said. “We hope that before anyone is going to judge any organization, they meet people who represent it and then make an opinion.”

Koeppel said the greek community is constantly trying to break these stereotypes.

“[Students] need to realize these are just stereotypes and that this is not how [greeks] actually are,” she said.