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Published:December 5th, 2006 03:50 EST
Keynote Speaker Tells Positive Sides of Greek Lifestyle

Keynote Speaker Tells Positive Sides of Greek Lifestyle

By Matthew Kent

Greek organizations should follow what they say they will do and should maintain a positive atmosphere.

Keynote speaker Rick Barnes spoke to sorority and fraternity members at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill. as a part of Greek Week.

Barnes currently travels across the country speaking on college campuses about a variety of issues. A former member of Farmhouse fraternity, he spoke about how the general public perceives the greek community as a whole and how greek organizations are part of a positive experience on campus.

He said 70 percent of people who join a fraternity or sorority are from a first-generation fraternity or sorority family.

"I look back, and it was the most important thing in my mind," Barnes said, noting the decision he made to join a fraternity 20 years ago. "No other organization on campus is as important as you."

He asked audience members what stereotypes men and women might get labeled as by members of the opposite sex.

Terms shouted out by men in the audience such as "babes, panty-droppers and how sorority women drink too much," were all used to define sorority women while several women in the audience defined fraternity men as "man-whores, drunks, sweet-talkers and way too cocky."

"If we know our stereotypes, what does the general public think?" Barnes asked.

He said greek organizations often struggle with such stereotypes, but said the importance of Greek Week is "to pull us all together." He also said greek organizations are "constantly under the watchful eye," noting the way society often views them.

He spoke about four privileges of being in a greek organization: being in a private, secret, single-sex organization and the significance of selecting members.

Since greek organizations are private organizations, they have "no responsibility to the U.S. Constitution," he said.

"In the end, it is up to us to choose," he said, noting the importance of quality members to represent a nationwide organization.

"The concept of an initiation is not the end - it is the beginning of a membership in a phenomenal organization," Barnes said.

He also spoke about four important topics regarding the greek community on college campuses: recruitment, rituals, risk management and education.

Barnes said the perception in society seems to be that "we (fraternities and sororities) all drink like freaking fish."

He said each chapter's president has more liability for more people and money for the rest of their life. He said handling situations where a person has had too much to drink needs to be handled effectively.

"You have to handle them responsibly," Barnes said.

He said rituals are part of a lifetime membership and part of a phenomenal organization.

"Think about what your ritual stands for," Barnes said. "Don't ever have a conversation about why you shouldn't exist."