Publication Date

4-15-2017

Advisor(s)

Kerwin Kaye, Megan Glick

Major

American Studies (AMST)

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This thesis examines Greek Life through a case study of one sorority, ABC, at one university in the fall of 2016. With the support of twenty-eight loosely-structured, in-person interviews, I explore what it means to be in a Greek-lettered organization at a Big State U through the lenses of selectivity and exclusion. While scholarly material provides essential theoretical frameworks, the majority of the data presented in this thesis come from raw and analyzed primary material, with secondary sources as supplement. This thesis argues that ABC is comprised of white, wealthy, and straight women. It is Jewish as per its sorority national charter, which places ABC at Big State U in an intermediary space between its peers’ whiteness and its peer’s anti-Semitism. While ABC is comprised of individuals, as a whole organization, it encourages its members to shed individual identity in favor of collective dedication to being in ABC in order to further the institution, its notoriety, and its perceived image around campus. This is a study of the intersection of identity, institution, and power. I contend that whiteness, and a strive for whiteness, become the norm through the practices of the Greek System at Big State U. In this sense, while this is a case study of a single sorority, perhaps it can also function as a case study of how national and societal ideologies of normativity, race-based exclusion, heterosexism, elitism, and anti-Semitism become expressed and disseminated in microcosm.

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