J500 Media and the Environment

alpha, beta, gamma, delta, epsilon, zeta, eta… by dmdeshazer

theta, iota, kappa, lambda, mu, nu, xi, omicron, pi, rho, sigma, tau, upsilon, phi, chi, psi, omega. GO GREEK!

You may hear the Greek alphabet, among other crazy sorority chants, during the week of Panhellenic‘s Fall Formal Recruitment. This week at the University of Kansas typically occurs the same week that classes start in the fall, and lasts a total of seven days. The process of formal recruitment is the main source of new member “inflow,” so to speak, for the thirteen sororities on campus. After a long week of visiting each sorority, and mutually selecting chapters you feel most comfortable with, the new members celebrate with a grand finale: bid day.

Yay, we’re all happy, happy, joy, joy and singing our lovely sorority songs, and life is wonderful! Yippee!

But, wait. What really goes on during this time period? Well, I can tell you, there’s a lot of unneeded waste going on. Sorority recruitment is an event that could use some “greenin’ up.” On the first two days of recruitment alone, each of the approximately 800 potential new members attends all 13 sororities. This means, each chapter they enter, a potential new sorority member is handed a cup of ice cold water and a personalized napkin. Therefore, on average, 10,400 cups are used and disposed of within 20 minutes of their first use, as well as 10,400 napkins.

This waste does not include the paper waste that goes into this week. Each new member applicant must submit multiple page resumes, pictures, and recommendation forms. Pretty typical for any application process. But then each individual chapter will print out multiple-page notebooks, packets, song lyric sheets, instruction sheets, schedules, etc. and distribute these to the thousands of Greek women helping out with recruitment at their separate chapters.

On top of that, the entire recruitment staff moves their office from the Union (right on campus) to a hotel that is about an 8 minute drive away. Recruitment staff members will be driving around campus all day, back and forth from the hotel “office” to sorority chapter houses, running memo’s (more paper waste), nametags, and water (in bottles, of course).

It’s a relatively short process, compared to other year-round businesses, but I believe every organization and event can use this opportunity to better the environment. It’s just as simple to cut down on these wastes by cutting the unnecessary means sorority recruitment has come to. For those of you not in a sorority and those of you who are, please tell me you can relate to this situation: You walk into a restaurant and see that the staff serves you drinks in red plastic cups instead of chic martini glasses. Their napkins are rough against your skin, as opposed to a soft pashmina lap towel. But, the food is wonderful — the best you’ve ever had. Do you say to yourself, “I’m never coming back to this place again! Those red cups are absolutely abhorrable; I would never put my lips to such abominable glasses!” I’d hope you would reply that this situation is a little exaggerated and a little ridiculous… because, it is. As a member of a Greek chapter, I didn’t choose my sorority based on the pink streamers or plastic goblets I drank my lemon water out of — I chose it because of the quality of the end product, just as anyone does when making decisions on a restaurant, a hotel, or an apartment. You give and take a little when making decisions, and in this case, those “gives” should be aspects of the process that harm the environment.

Cups, napkins, and papers should be these little things that don’t help the process of sorority recruitment whatsoever. The volume at which these little things that are carelessly thrown away within the hour of their use is just repulsive. Another way to reduce waste is an update in technology. I’ve got to hand it to the Panhellenic Association at KU, though. This year was the first year that all the bidding and application process was conducted electronically. However, many other processes are still behind. If each sorority on campus and Panhellenic banded together to create an easier process using the technology we now have, many of the paper waste could be thwarted. It’s all about making things simple. If I’m not going to choose your sorority based on the pretty pink embroidered napkin that I barely noticed during my 20 minutes in your chapter house, then it’s not something a sorority should waste money on and waste the environment on, too.



6 Comments so far
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The Center for Sustainability would be a good place to start! One project in the queue is a green guide for Greeks. With some additional help from your house, we could get the project under way.

Comment by jseverin

I see a Green Greek event in the making – maybe led by Danae? Excellent insights! The more we shed light on this, the more these things will change. I really don’t think people do this out of malice, it’s just stuff that we take for granted and overlook.


Comment by j500

Maybe there needs to be a Greek mythology theme here… I introduce for the first time into collegiate Greek mythology… The Greeken. A greek green machine that educates college students about sustainability and the environment.

If this pans out, I want royalties.


Comment by acbowman

I would LOVE to start a Greek Green event or movement. It’s sad that I’m graduating this year, but I hope I can plant the seed in some way (literally and figuratively) and get something going on this project. What’s strange is that they used to have an Environmental Chair when I was a freshman, who was in charge of “greening” (before the term became popular) sorority life at KU. Needless to say, it got axed because no one was really paying attention to the officer position and nothing was getting accomplished. I wonder what would make it “matter” this time around, or a different angle Panhellenic could take with a position like that?

Oh, and the “Greeken” sounds great, Adam. Not sure how well it will go over as an advocate for the environment, but I owe you the rights if this creature does in fact come to life. 🙂


Comment by Danae DeShazer

We should definitely talk. I’m really feeling your pain here as I am also a member of the greek community. I love the idea of an environmental chair, and I think it’s a great position that certainly needs to be reinstated now that going green is ‘fad’ material…most women will be interested in hearing about it.


Comment by denah

What an interesting post! My sorority, Delta Gamma Pi, actually has environmentalism as an official sorority cause, so we would like to think we are green! We are not in the NPC however (so we do not have a house, the big bid day, etc.), so we operate a little bit differently. However our approach currently is that we do service events to support environmentalism…but your post brings up a good idea — to incorporate more green practices into everything we do. I am on the National Board of the sorority and to cut costs and waste, we have switched to doing many things electronically; but I’m sure we can do better. Thank you again for this post.

Comment by Rishona

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