On October 28, The New York Times published an article titled “Greek Letters at Price.” Writer Risa C. Doherty weaved through the ins and outs of sorority life while simultaneously bashing the Greek system — claiming that sorority fees are off the wall and the time commitment is absurd. However, while “shedding light” on the Greek system, Ms. Doherty wound up discrediting the positive attributes of the Greek system — and let’s be real, there’s got to be some reason a whopping 20 percent of SU students hopped on the Greek wagon, beyond just having a social schedule.
Cameron Boardman, President of Alpha Phi’s chapter here on SU’s campus, was contacted by Ms. Doherty to give her two cents on Greek life. However after reviewing the final article, Cameron took to Facebook to announce how Ms. Doherty “deceivingly cherry-picked phrases” to present a one-sided article.
Well, as a proud member of the Greek community, I thought it was only fair for Cameron to have her turn and share her side of the story, minus the cherry-picked phrases that is. I reached out to Cameron and here’s what she had to say about The New York Times article — hey Ms. Doherty, listen up!
Cori Rosen: How did Risa C. Doherty first get in contact with you and when?
Cameron Boardman: I was first contacted by Risa Doherty in January 2014. She was looking to interview Greek leaders on various campuses to gain an understanding of the commitments associated with joining the Greek community.
CR: What did she explain the article would be about?
CB: Over the phone, she expressed that she wanted to hear about the financial and time commitments that members of the greek community face upon joining a chapter.
CR: Did she mention how she was going to frame your words?
CB: I sensed she was fishing for certain answers, and asked her out-right what her angle would be. I said that I didn’t want my words to be used in a context that would shed a negative light on a community that I was proud to be a part of. She assured me that “as a professional journalist” she would never twist words or put words in my mouth.
While she did not twist my words, my quote in the context of the article supports a representation of sororities that I do not agree with. I stand by my quote from the article that explains how transparency of financial and time commitments are essential for setting realistic expectations for Potential New Members. I am happy to say that the members of the Panhellenic community at Syracuse have worked to create more candor, and improvements will be implemented in this year’s recruitment.
CR: What would you like to say to Ms. Doherty now after seeing the full article?
CB: Ms. Doherty, your article is tagged under the “Education Life” section of The New York Times website. How can this article be considered educational if you do not present two sides of the argument? If you leave out the endless quotes I gave about the scholarships, resources, leadership roles, networking channels and support that sororities provide their members? This is not education.
Helpful advice for Potential New Members and their parents would be to write an objective article that defines the financial and time commitments of joining an organization, as well as the unexpected benefits. Why reiterate tired stereotypes of Big/Little and the frills of being a “sorority girl?” That’s basic, we have all seen Legally Blonde. Perhaps the more challenging article to write would be one that defines the financial and time commitments of joining an organization, and then goes on to tell the stories of the sorority women who are developed and empowered through their experiences as members in a chapter.
CR: What has Greek life provided for you?
CB: Greek life is what you make of it, and it’s not for everyone, but what team or organization is? Doherty’s opening lines of the article state, “Imagine finding a bill for $200 in your mailbox because your daughter was late to a couple of sorority events. Imagine, too, that those who snitched were her new best friends.” Here’s the thing, I’m not even that upset about my quotations in the article, I’m frustrated by the portrait she painted of every sorority woman. I’m most frustrated by the sweeping generalizations the author made about the price of greek letters. So ironically, I’m standing up for all members of sororities, women I have never met, and may never have the pleasure of meeting. This is because I have been taught that being a member of a Greek organization means that you are a part of a community that transcends boundaries. I have become the person I am because of my involvement in a greek life and I loathe when people say, “you’re just buying friends.” Risa Doherty, spend a day in my shoes, or even the same time you spent interviewing me, and you will see that this experience is priceless.
Comment below with your reactions to The New York Times article and Cameron’s perspective.