Reputation vs. Representation

By: Ellie B. 

Something that has crossed my mind a lot lately is the idea of reputation. What exactly does a reputation mean? The definition ofthe word reputation is " the beliefs or opinions that are generally held about someone or something". As I somewhat figured, reputation stands for how others see you. How others view sorority life and Greek life in general has become a huge problem. Reputation holds a sort of competitive aspect and has a more negative connotation. When trying to uphold a reputation, people are aiming to be better and to have a better outward image and name. As a Panhellenic community with over 2,000 women throughout 17 chapters here at Florida State University, shouldn't we be working to build each other up, rather than tear each other down?

This conversation has come up frequently within our Recruitment Counselor classes that have been taking place since January of 2016. We discuss empowerment rather than competition and we have become aware that this has become a problem not only in our community, but with sorority life all around the country. People view sorority life as a competition and as a cat-fight to be the best chapter on campus. These ideas about sorority life stem from websites like TFM and TSM that have put sorority women under a bad light. But what about all of the amazing and incredible things we accomplish as sorority women? Why aren't those positive impacts highlighted, rather than pushed to the back burner?

As a Recruitment Counselor, I have thought quite a bit about this problem. More than I would probably like to admit. I have come to admire every chapter on this campus because every chapter has something unique, different, and special about them. Whether it is a chapter that is super involved in their philanthropy or a chapter that is super involved on campus, every chapter shines in their own way. So the question becomes, why don't we play off of those strengths and passions, rather than focusing on what TSM has to say about who the hottest girls on campus seem to be.

Representation. The Dictionary describes representation as " the action of speaking or acting on behalf of someone or the state of being so represented". I think that reputation is how others view who you are. Reputation holds a negative connotation in the sense that reputation is given, but representation is earned. Every day, we wake up and chose to represent our chapters to the best of our ability. We work hard, are genuine to those around us, we are involved in our community, and we strive to make our school a better place. Representation, in my eyes, is how you want your chapter to be remembered based on the values you hold and follow. Representation is always staying true to your ritual and staying true to the values and beliefs of your chapter. Representation is always putting your best foot forward in order to positively influence your chapter and those around you. Representation is more than how others see you. It is how you see you.

We have talents, skills, and the drive as sorority women to empower one another and to make the community a better place. Each chapter wants to leave a legacy, make a difference, and better the community, but sometimes we get so caught up in the competition between each chapter that we lose track of our common goal as a community of strong, incredible women. As sorority and Panhellenic women, we should work to make each other stronger rather than work to be better than one another. It is time that we build each other up and create a powerful and unstoppable community of women, because that is the representation we want to create. We have the power and we have the ability, so let's make it happen.