If you are a frequent user of the Internet, particularly the website Total Sorority Move (TSM), then you may have heard about the first student with Down Syndrome to join a sorority.
In early August, Alexis Cain accepted her bid from Alpha Sigma Alpha at Murray State University in Kentucky. As refreshing as it is to read positive Greek life stories, this particular heart-warming tale was immediately followed by a wave of nausea when I realized that she was the first … ever.
The first organization of college women was established as a national college fraternity in 1867. The term “sorority” wasn’t coined until 1882, but records of informal sisterhoods began as early as 1851.
It has taken over 150 years to welcome a disabled member into the opportunities and privileges associated with sisterhood. People are quick to comment on how wonderful and accepting they were, but they are missing the overarching problem of how ridiculous it is that in 2015, this is something that needs to be celebrated.
“F*** sororities for not accepting diversity and promoting assimilation,” Lizzy Carroll, special education major, said. “It is important to spread the message that just because someone is different, whether that be from a physical or racial [or] cultural perspective, that person still deserves equal access to the opportunities provided through school programming. “
Others, who prefer to remain anonymous, believe that it isn’t the unwillingness of sororities, but the lack of students with major disabilities in college. In addition, GPA is also a factor when recruiting members, and that might have played a role in the process. However, many sorority girls agree that they would happily extend a bid to someone with Down Syndrome.
“I’ve heard about that kind of stuff where girls that have disabilities becoming prom queen and I just think that I would want to be a part of that sorority that accepts girls and looks beyond their disability and sees them for who they truly are,” senior sorority girl and special education major Lauren Lemanski said.
At the University of Alabama, the ladies of Alpha Phi created a rush video, which was criticized for their lack of diversity and the objectification of women. Unfortunately, these unrealistic displays of sororities are all too common, exhibiting all the stereotypical attributes already associated with greek life.
The controversy began with an article published on AL.com titled “’Bama sorority video worse for women than Donald Trump,” where writer A.L. Bailey referred to it as “all so racially and aesthetically homogeneous and forced, so hyper-feminine, so reductive and objectifying…”
He’s not wrong: typical sorority girls often resemble each other in style and personality. This trend negatively impacts these women in the working world, where distinctiveness is praised and welcomed.
Campuses need sororities that are more open-minded, more diverse and more supportive of individuality. We are getting better, but the Alexis Cains of the world deserve to don letters just as much as the next girl.