Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Research Blog #7

My paper is about how sorority members are delegated to a specific image of femininity, with lesbians interpreted as a near polar opposite.  This leads to a negative image of homosexual women in terms of Greek life, where all things related to "lesbians" are the opposite of what sororities want to achieve in terms of looks, personality, and social lessons. This links back to the overall image of lesbians as opposed to homosexual men. Even in media, there are multiple examples of gay men who have varied characters and personalities. Athletic or overweight, fashionable or sloppy, intelligent or ignorant, television and movies provide a variety of options. Yet, the amount of homosexual females is severely lacking in comparison. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Rough Draft 1

Eveleen Chung

Rough Draft

Homosexuals in fraternities, though not common, are slowly rising in number and support. Some fraternities were even known to be particularly accepting of gays. One openly homosexual male described his fellow brothers’ attitude about his sexuality: “The thing that was the best…I knew going into it they weren’t going to have an issue, and that was helpful” (Hussey, Heather D., and Toni L. Bisconti). Though not the case for all fraternities or even the majority of them, it is still comforting to know that there are parts of Greek life who’re embracing differences in sexuality. Alas, that positive attitude doesn’t seem to carry over to homosexual women in sororities. In comparison to male homosexuals, lesbians in sororities suffer more open hostility and negative stereotypes. As a result, they have a more diminished presence on campus. One Greek-affiliated male from a small, private Midwestern university with an active LGBTQ community confessed, “When [the interviewer] mentioned it, I don’t know a single girl in any house that [is homosexual.]”A girl from the same university stated that her housemates’ attitudes and snide comments about other lesbians put off her coming-out until her senior year (Hussey 129). Why would lesbians have a more negative reaction in Greek life than a gay male? Part of this difference in treatment lies in the dominant perception of women, specifically sorority women. Even for heterosexual, white girls with blonde hair and good looks, the rushing process is incredibly intimidating. Mara, a pledge for a top tier sorority in her school, described the peer dynamics of the house as “heavily… based on appearance, and looks, and materialistic things” (Armstrong). The other part lies in lack of media attention. Both parts tie into the fact that while “gays” are more “mainstream” than are either lesbians or women bisexuals. 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Literature Review #3

Hussey, Heather D., and Toni L. Bisconti. "Interventions to reduce sexual minority stigma in sororities." Journal of homosexuality 57.4 (2010): 566-587.

Key Terms: 

Stereotype: positive or negative beliefs and attitudes held by the majority about the stigmatized group

Stigma: can be analyzed through three factors: cognition, affect, and behavior

Authors: Heather D. Hussey is part of the Department of Psychology at the University of Hampshire. Toni L. Bisconti holds a PhD in psychology and is part of the Department of Psychology at the University of Akron. 

The project was basically taking two sororities and then using two different methods to reduce the stigma against homosexuals. While both were effective, the researchers concluded that neither was more effective than the other. They also concluded that stigma against homosexuals can be reduced but it will take both time and effort and both parties. 


Armstrong, Elizabeth A., and Laura T. Hamilton. Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality. Harvard University Press, 2013.

Hussey, Heather D., and Toni L. Bisconti. "Interventions to reduce sexual minority stigma in sororities." Journal of homosexuality 57.4 (2010): 566-587.

Leinfelt, Fredrik H., and Kevin M. Thompson. "College-student drinking-related arrests in a college town." Journal of Substance Use 9.2 (2004): 57-67.

Nichter, Mimi, et al. "Smoking and drinking among college students:“It's a package deal”." Drug and alcohol dependence 106.1 (2010): 16-20.

WELTER, EMILY. "College Greek Life: Perceptions and Lived Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Queer (LGBTQ) Students." Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences 15 (2012).

Monday, March 3, 2014

Literature Review #2: LGBTQ Greek Life

WELTER, EMILY. "College Greek Life: Perceptions and Lived Experiences of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning, and Queer (LGBTQ) Students." Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences 15 (2012).

Author: Emily Welter; student at Butler University 

Summary: A look into how LGBTQ students at a small private Midwestern university view Greek life and reversely how they fell they're perceived by Greek communities. 

Key Terms: 
Stereotyping - Many homosexual students, including those who are part of a Greek community and those who aren't, let their preconceptions of sororities and fraternities to influence their decision to join one or not. Most agreed that the more negative stereotypes stuck. 
Heterosexism: the convenience of being a heterosexual male in a social setting

There're a lot of rumors and gossip surrounding Greek organizations, especially about what they do or how they think of others. This would obviously influence how potential members would decided to rush or not. Interestingly enough, in a small Midwestern university, the general consensus around campus is that male homosexuality is not considered detrimental to his rush process. The interviewees would repeatedly make references to "a specific homosexual Greek fraternity president," describing him as "the best poster gay [they] have [at the university]... [who] was great for the school" (128). On the other hand, female homosexuality was much less known, to the point "the majority of the male respondents... could not think of one female lesbian or bisexual in any sorority n campus" (126). Females tend to be stuck with more latent stereotypes while male homosexuality is somehow becoming more "normative," thus making them more acceptable to the majority of Greek life which seems to thrive off normalcy. In the terms of a lesbian interviewee, "in society... gay men are looked at like every girl wants to be their best friend... nobody wants a lesbian best friend" (127). 
This article wasn't so much about what about type of "people" join which type of Greek organization but more along the lines of what about Greek life attracts and repels a specific (albeit general) group of students. Greek life brings about a sense of normalcy to many people, giving them a concrete social group as well as a regulated life. But that normalcy depends on how much that person fits in with the majority of, if not the actual fraternity or sorority, but the outside social demographic. According to this article, it would seem that male homosexuality is on the rise while female lesbians are still struggling with general acceptance and approval from their peers. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lit. Review #1: Paying for the Party

Paying for the Party is the accumulation of over four years worth of observation from the watchful and thorough eyes of Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton. They took in a group of researchers, set up camp in a freshman girl party dorm, and proceeded to follow the girls on that floor throughout and beyond their undergraduate years. There's a large focus on Greek life, particularly "elite" sororities, and how they affect the girls' self-perception, social and financial status, and where it leads them academically.

Elizabeth Armstrong is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Organizational Studies at the University of Michigan and has a PhD in Sociology from the University of California-Berkeley.

Laura Hamilton is an Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of California-Merced and has a PhD in sociology from Indiana University.

Even though Hamilton and Armstrong don't address the four types of sororities/fraternities, they do label and explain what they've come to see as three main types of students and their choice of "college pathways": "The party pathway is provisioned to support the affluent and socially oriented; the mobility pathway is designed for the pragmatic and vocationally oriented; and the professional pathway fits ambitious students from privileged families" (Armstrong 15). They have taken away half of my work because not only do they consider personality but financial, social, and class background. This fits in with my idea to assign a certain type of student into a certain type of fraternity. For example, those in the party pathway tend to swat towards social fraternities while those in professional or mobility pathways may prefer academic or professional fraternities.

However, one thing I will have to consider is that these interviews and observations were made strictly in terms of the female population. From what I've read so far, very little is mentioned of fraternity brothers other than describing social interactions with the project's girls. Armstrong and Hamilton conducted their research with the mindset that "women are well represented among those oriented to achievement" (Armstrong 14). They expect the women they interview to want to achieve some modicum of success, whether it be in a social, academic, or professional setting. They also rely on the idea that "monetary and career success... have traditionally been in competition [for women]" (Armstrong 14). While both statements are true, it means that the goal for these researchers wasn't about identifying groups of people but rather how each group of women tend to go about searching for a method to success. I am in pursuit of a more unisex observation.

Armstrong, Elizabeth and Laura Hamilton. Paying for the Party: How College                 Maintains Inequality. Harvard 2013.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Greek Life costs money, yo

There're all sorts of Greek life. I mean, Armstrong and Hamilton tended to focus more on the "exclusive" houses but other groups aren't as high maintenance. Which leads the conversation into monetary spending.

Colleges and "elite" Greek groups do support privatization because colleges need money to run, well, the college and the higher-up-the-totem-pole a frat or sorority is, the more money it's occupants tend to spend even if they can't strictly afford it. For instance, Blair, a middle class girl in a house full of upper class girls, said that the careless spending of her pledge mates "'boggles her mind... how much people spend on clothes or jewelry or things... on dad's credit card and just swipe it and you'll be fine'" (Armstrong 125). From personal experience, I know for a fact that some houses require its members to pay up to three grand a semester to stay. That's a ridiculous amount of money for a social club and it's practically shutting out people from lower economic backgrounds. 

But there are other types of Greek life too. Other Greeks, especially smaller, newer chapters, ask anywhere from around 800 to 250 as a one time fee, a huge drop from the long bill that racks up from being part of an older fraternity. These tend to be specialized houses, such as those targeted for a specific ethnicity, religion, profession, or hobby. They are targeting a type of student not based on financial situation but on social terms. If they added financial restrictions as well, such as expensive dues, then they would have a harder time finding members.