Kit Steinkellner
May 19, 2015 1:42 pm

When you think “college Greek system,” do a bunch of negative stereotypes immediately pop into your head? A lot of people have not-so-positive associations with fraternities and sororities, a fact well-known by Kayleigh Dumas, a senior at York College in Pennsylvania and a member of Sigma Delta Tau, a national sorority committed to empowering women. Dumas does not relate to the stereotype of a “sorority girl,” and she knew there were many others who participated in the Greek system who also did not relate. Thus Dumas’ photography series “We Are Not Our Stereotypes” was born.

“I wanted to highlight the great individuals that also happen to be Greek, we as a community are incredibly motivated, bright individuals,” Dumas explained to A Plus. “And somehow that gets stripped down as soon as we wear letters…this campaign is a photographic protest against the stereotypes that we have been saddled with regardless of there being any truth to back them up.”

Each photo in the Facebook album (which has been shared, as of this writing, over 7,400 times) shows a fraternity or sorority member holding up a sign that spells out a stereotype about Greek life, and then there is a second picture of that same person holding up a second sign showing how that individual subverts expectations.

Reactions to the campaign have been mixed. The vast majority of the comments on the Facebook album have been positive, according to Dumas, but on Twitter, the conversation has been more critical.

Twitter has a point. Though we are all for dismantling stereotypes, the fact is that fraternities and sororities are not traditionally oppressed groups, and so it can be a little difficult to muster up sympathy for some of these grievances (I’m not sure that the impression that you wear Sperrys when IN FACT you wear Red Wing boots can really serve as the foundation for a cultural revolution).

That said, if what this photo series can do is show that the Greek life is not just about peer pressure and partying, and that there is a place in frats and sororities for braniacs and do-gooders, that’s a positive message, and if that leads to more book-smart, volunteer-work-loving kids joining sororities and fraternities, that can only be a good thing for the Greek system.

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