Sorority Strategizing

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Town Hall planning won't require the "Machiavellian mastermind" of a Stratego extraordinaire, but this is still a stellar board game.

It’s October 4th, the day of reckoning for Barnard girls in Greek Life. We’ll have coverage of the Town Hall tonight, but first we’ve got some inside info on sorority strategery how sororities are gearing up for the big event. An email circulating among the sisters includes “Facebook status templates” and scripted answers for FAQs.  Say someone asks: “Is it true that joining a chapter eliminates the ability to develop friendships with other students on campus?” Answer the following (a lot to memorize, perhaps), channeling your inner Dwight Schrute:

False! Sororities encourage members to become involved in activities both within and outside of the Greek community. Sorority members also form friendships with those in their classrooms, majors and outside activities. Today’s sororities include diverse, well-rounded individuals who are committed to their academics and the community. Personal development is also encouraged in areas such as athletics, student government, theater, academic societies, community service groups and leadership.

All sorority sisters across Barnard and Columbia were encouraged to wear their letters today to show support for Greek Life funding.

The Town Hall runs from 6-8 PM tonight in the Diana Event Oval. There will be free dinner. Let’s get ready to ruuuuuumble!

Update, 2 PM: Here’s some more information included in the original email about the general goals of the Barnard Greek Life  community. The two main goals are “congruency for all Barnard students involved in IGC organizations” and “acknowledgement and support for an active interest [in Greek Life] on Barnard’s campus.” Some facts about Greek Life at Barnard: there are currently 249 Barnard women involved in IGC; the Panhellenic Council has experienced massive growth since 2005; chapters have increased in size by 70%; and [email protected] recently cut the IGC’s funding by 51%.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

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  1. dude

    I am a member of the Columbia Community. I am a male, and I looooooove Barnard women. Especially sorority ones.

  2. Anonymous  

    This post is really misleading. Yeah, we all changed our statuses, but we didn't do it because we were forced to, we did it because we wanted to. There's not really that much strategery going on. And posts like this one just fuel the fire against sororities.

    • Eliza  (Bwog Staff)

      We certainly didn't mean to indicate that anyone was forced to do anything. We got a bunch of tips about the huge number of Facebook statuses about this and this is clearly the root of last night's phenomenon. Bwog is completely neutral on this issue, but when we get information about the issue, we post on it. If you have any specific corrections, we'll be happy to make them. And if you have any other concerns, please email me at [email protected] We really do want to make sure we're doing this right since we understand how passionate people are about this issue.

      • Anonymous

        I agree that the post is misleading, and does not appear to be very "neutral"

        Perhaps the "phenomenon" of facebook statuses is the result of a large subset of the student population feeling quite strongly about and supporting the representation issue that is going to be discussed tonight, rather than "strategery" and forced "scripted answers"

      • non-Greek  

        While Bwog may be completely neutral on this subject, I do not agree that this post was completely neutral. I do not believe it is fair to characterize sorority members of Columbia as students incapable of creating their own opinion and I think this post clear implies that.

    • Anonymous  

      It doesn't seem as if this isn't meant to be a divisive or negative post. "Strategizing" isn't a negative thing, it simply shows how passionate the sorority community is about this issue, and referring to their PR strategy simply reflects the well-planned and intelligent ways they are approaching PR. I applaud the Greek community for making such a stand and statement with this campaign. They are doing exactly what they should be doing: encouraging support for an issue they clearly care a lot about.

  3. Anonymous  

    Also, I'd like to clarify that the FAQ section of the email is not meant as a script. It's like when you're a tour guide and they give you example questions that you will probably have to deal with from prospective families, and an EXAMPLE of an answer that you could give. It is meant to get you thinking about the issues from another perspective and how you could begin to answer them. Trust me, the women at Columbia University, including BC, CC, and SEAS, are certainly intelligent enough to dilute the information given to them and form their own opinions. In the end, all participants of tonight's Town Hall are encouraged to come with an open mind and their own candid experiences about Greek Life at Barnard and at Columbia.

    And to echo the sentiment above, girls were not forced to change their facebook status; it's simply an easy way to remind our friends of what a large part of the greater Columbia community is made up of women in Sororities.

    Again, I hope that the writer from Bwog comes to the Town Hall tonight and recognizes that we are not all reading from a script, but are there to have an honest discussion about this first step to SGA Recognition. I honestly would have hoped for a little less bias from your writers, but we are more than ready to talk to you about this issue.

    • Same Poster as Above  

      Don't worry, I've already emailed Bwog, but I thought that the people reading this post needed this piece of information from my email to them:

      "Also, just to be clear, this is not "the day of reckoning for Barnard girls in Greek Life"; this is the first step in a long process of gaining SGA Recognition. The issue is really nuanced, and if you did receive a copy of the email that we have all been sent, then I would encourage you to read and write about why it is that we do not currently have full SGA Recognition. I have many sisters that attend Barnard, and will certainly have new ones in the future, and I don't think that we should cause any kind of panic that "Panhellenic will bar Barnard Students" when that isn't true at all."

      This is just a first step people, it's not D-Day -- so you can all put away your gas masks and camouflage.

  4. I agree that this post is misleading.  

    Just by the picture associated with the article, bwog is making sorority girls look like Machiavellian masterminds. They asked their members to update their facebook statuses-- not stage a sit-in of Low, 1968 style. What's the big deal? Clubs I'm apart of ask me to promote events we're having over Facebook all the time....

  5. really?  

    All this fuss over a bunch of frat-mattresses?

  6. dude  

    but seriously: this post does make make the pr seem worse than it is, but i'm not sure it's great PR strategy anyways

  7. Eliza  (Bwog Staff)

    Thanks for all your responses. Here's our perspective: this is the way we write Bwog posts. We have no bias, and no intent of misleading anyway. The Stratego picture is just a joke on the title of the post-- most of our pictures are completely irreverent. We don't think there's anything wrong with anyone changing their Facebook statuses. When we get a lot of tips and questions about something (as we did last night re: Facebook statuses), we try to provide information that will answer those questions. We want to respect the importance of the issue while still informing our non-Greek Life affiliated readership about what's going on in a general sense. This post was intended to explain why there were so many Greek Life-related Facebook statuses, an innocent enough query and, we think, an innocent enough explanation-- we simply copy and pasted from an email and made a joke about the Office.

    Just because this issue is important doesn't mean we can't poke fun at certain elements of it. We do the same for ESC (this run-off!), and CCSC every single week. This is not to belittle the issue. We never mean to be cruel or to mislead, but as far as we know, there's no misinformation here, and there certainly isn't any explicit or implicit vitriol.

    Again, if there is any misinformation here, and/or if there are concerns about the general coverage of this issue, I'll be happy to discuss it one-on-one. Please email me anytime at [email protected] Thanks for reading, and we really do appreciate your input.

    • Anonymous  

      So, someone actually sent you an email that said "what's with all the facebook statii?" a la Jerry Seinfeld, rather than just clicking on the link to the event?

      I have a question: Bwog, why is it raining today? and why are you ignoring very clear messages about exactly what misinformation is contained in your post?

      If you really " copy and pasted from an email" and are supposed to be "informing [your] non-Greek Life affiliated readership about what’s going on in a general sense" then why wouldn't you include some of the more important information from the TOP of the information sheet that you have quoted from?

      • Eliza  (Bwog Staff)

        Absolutely, a few people sent us emails asking what was up with the Facebook statuses. You're absolutely right, also, that we should include more information from the email-- we picked what we thought was most interesting (and what answered questions that people asked us last night) but I'll add some more general information now.

        As for misinformation-- we are happy to post a correction immediately if anything here is factually inaccurate. I don't see what is, however-- the email says that sisters were "encouraged" to change their Facebook statuses-- no one was forced, and we didn't write that anyone was forced. Email me at [email protected] if you feel there's any factual inaccuracy here and I'll address it immediately.

      • weee oooo weee ooo  

        Uh oh! Somebody call the whammmmbulance.

  8. Anonymous  

    I dont think its a passionate majority, It's an extremely vocal minority.

    And come on, like there was no prwssure to post those stati from higher up sorority girls.

  9. Anonymous

    i wish we could thumbs down bwog replies

  10. ...  

    WHINGE, WHINGE, WHINGE. There are a few times you should give Bwog a break -- this is one of them.

  11. Eliza  (Bwog Staff)

    We've added some general information re: the Barnard Greek Life community's goals and some facts about IGC and Barnard Greek Life in general. I've changed "sorority strategy" in the first paragraph to "how Barnard students are getting geared up for the big event" to make our intention clearer. Thanks for commenting, and again, if there's anything factually inaccurate in this post, please email me directly at [email protected]

  12. Anonymous  

    You also fail to point out that sorority leadership didn't just write up a script for its members to follow. The FAQs were taken from the National Panhellenic Conference website, and adapted to be more applicable to the Columbia Greek community.

    This approach is no different than the FAQs given to campus tour guides (as previously stated above) or even the "Why a women's college?" tab on Barnard's own website.

    The FAQs were meant to alert members to questions they may be asked at tonight's Town Hall. Don't act like no other group has ever created a list of Frequently Asked Questions and responses for its members. And also don't act like no other campus group has ever utilized its members facebook pages as a method of public relations/advertising. We're not fascists for encouraging our members to update their facebook statuses in order to showcase the population of Columbia Greeks that other students often fail to notice.

  13. Anonymous.

    I really hope they get rid of sororities at Barnard. Barnard activities are supposed to be all-inclusive, and since sororities don't accept everyone who wants to join, they definitely don't fit the bill.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, sororities ARE all inclusive. 97% of women who go through recruitment end up in a sorority. All interested women are included; those 3% most likely decided it wasn't for them.

      I'm not sure if the same can be said for the majority of "groups" on campus. Should we not allow Varsity Show because one must audition (and the majority interested won't make it?) Same for dance crews. All clubs are inherently self selecting, and the majority are selective besides that as well - even moreso than fraternities and sororities.

      • Anonymous

        So what is the criteria for joining a sorority? theater and dance groups require talent, and they put on shows; publishing groups require talent and put out a product, sports groups require talent and compete with other teams, what do sororities do?

        • Sorority Woman  

          In membership selection, sororities aim to creat a diverse, ambitious, well-rounded group of women.

          So, to accomplish this, sororities consider potential members' involvements and leadership positions on campus, GPA and commitment to academic excellence, professional aspirations, and interest in culture and the arts.

          We want girls who are driven and bright, confident and poised, accomplished and innovative. We want women who share our values of fostering growth for women, and we want women who will make our organizations the best that it will be.

          Membership selection is based on a wide range of potential members' personality traits, and is just so far from being a shallow process. In fact, during recruitment, sorority women are way too busy learning about potential members through genuine conversations to even focus on superficial matters.

      • Anonymous

        for most college students, they are prohibitively expensive, thereby alienating people from participating in "recruitment" (RUSH) in the first place

  14. Anonymous

    bwog, this article is simply misleading. perhaps consider doing some research. there are plenty of resources available within both Panhell and SGA. it's too bad you had to sacrifice accuracy for snarkiness.

  15. Re: Columbia Greeks

    It can't be good for their backs to be carrying around a chip that size on their shoulders...

  16. Barnard is all inclusive?

    I knew Barnard's acceptance rate was higher than CC/SEAS's but I didn't know it was 100%.

  17. There are some many  

    worthier causes than giving money to Frats and Sororities. Causes that actually promote culture, community, or the general welfare of society. I think it is about time the number four university in the country starts to prioritize a little more effectively

  18. Former Panhel Exec  

    Columbia ([email protected]) gives money to the Inter Greek Council, NOT individual frats or sororities. The IGC, which is the governing board of the IFC, MGC, and the Panhellenic Sororities, regularly contributes time and money to non-profits, like the Susan B. Komen Breast Cancer Walk and Relay for Life, in addition to collaborating with other student organizations to contribute to a sense of community - including CU Athletics, Take Back the Night, and QuAM's First Friday.

    Individual frats/sororities are national groups, that receive funding both from their national foundations and from member dues. Sororities do not need nor want Barnard's money. They want recognition for their student leadership, volunteer efforts, and for participation in organizations that contribute to community, and the personal and moral development of individual members.

  19. Anonymous  

    yea right the sororities except everyone um hello look at DG or Theta they only except anorexic blonde girls with lots of money or preppy busty girls with lots of money. they are completely ostracizing and cut their members off from the rest of the women in the columbia community. I used to be friends with a bunch of girls until they joined sororities and now they never have time for anything else. greek life is stupid, if you want greek life go to JHU or Emory.

  20. Wow  

    These Barnard girls are quite pissy.

  21. CC '12

    FAQs given to tour guides are scripts on how to respond to questions. Obviously tours are scripted. No potential frosh would think the tour guide is making it up as they go along. You and your sorority friends were given scripted answers to questions regardless of whether or not you followed that script. Having said that, I don't think scripts have any significance in the actual debate. If your talking points are valid, great. If not, then you won't get funding.

    Honestly, I just feel like making sure you understand what a script is.

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