Sororities at U, nationwide outraged about reality TV portrayal

A petition to take the show off the air has circulated the Internet.

by Molly Novak

Across the country, sororities are in an uproar about the new TLC show, “Sorority Girls” –– a reality show featuring five American girls trying to start Britain’s first sorority.

“Sorority Girls” follows eight weeks of recruitment through rush week as girls compete to become a Sigma Gamma member. But to many greek community members in America, the show is an offensive caricature of their culture.

The show originated on E4, a British channel, in November 2011 and was aired in America by TLC for the first time in January.

“It makes it look like a cult,” said Angela Ugorets, president of the University of Minnesota Panhellenic Council.

“I am an S, I am an S-O, I am an S-O-R-O-R-I-T-Y!” chant the Sigma Gamma girls in a clip previewing the show. To Ugorets, that type of behavior illustrates her point.

In the show, Sigma Gamma sisters evaluate recruits based on their beauty regimens. The girls are weighted and measured. One of the recruits, named Claudia, is asked in her first interview to talk about her outfit, as clips show her prospective American sisters making fun of her and calling her a “slooter cahooter.”

A petition started by Alexandria Kennedy, a Central Michigan University student and chapter president at Alpha Gamma Delta, has been circulating online to campuses asking for support in protesting the show in hopes of getting it removed. That petition recently made its way to the University of Minnesota campus.

“We don’t feel it is an accurate representation of sorority life,” said Rebecca McRoberts, the University PHC’s spokeswoman.

“Sororities are founded on completely different values and it doesn’t seem a big priority to the girls in the show,” she said. “Their recruitement process is completely the opposite of the values of our sororities.”

McRoberts said she has seen clips of the show, and it doesn’t just have a large focus on the women’s clothing and appearance but also portrays hazing.

“All sororities across the country are completely against hazing,” McRoberts said. “There’s a no-tolerance policy, and that is also enforced by the Panhallenic Council.”

Sigmma Gamma is not an actual PHC member chapter.

“A lot [of stereotypes] are from southern greek life, where there have been cases of hazing,” said Ugorets.

The show also portrays the girls drinking alcohol straight from the bottle and riding a mechanical bull.

Ugorets said she doesn’t know where that kind of partying stereotype came from.

“It’s obvious a lot of greeks like to throw parties, but it’s the same as a group of guys living together in Dinkytown throwing one,” Ugorets said.

“It’s disappointing to see something like this on television,” McRoberts said.