By Briana Briscoe
For The Diamondback
Members of Greek life discussed campus-wide sexism Thursday, while also addressing gender identity and its roles at the University of Maryland.
More than 60 students, primarily members of Greek life, met to share their views on stereotypes typically associated with men and women. More specifically, the attendees discussed society's gender norms and how they play a role on this campus.
The Multicultural Greek Council and the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Shades of Pink and Blue, in Marie Mount Hall, and was aimed to facilitate a constructive discussion about gendered labels, as well as provide a forum for students to express their feelings about sexism with their own fraternities and sororities.
"It is an issue [in] every community," said junior Shayne Zaplitny, a kinesiology major. "I think the more educated people are, the more they can do to change the social norm, and fight against sexism."
Some fraternity members also expressed an underlying fear of being deemed feminine when they should embrace brotherhood. Sorority members also discussed the term "aggressive" and how the word actually empowers them.
"Greek life is a microcosm of society, and I think inevitably microcosms create [lots of] pressure on how things play out," said Nathan Bunch, an adviser for MGC and NPHC. "I think it's important for any student group, especially in sororities and fraternities, that are gender identified to talk about these issues."
Students were also shown a video regarding the media's and society's role in dictating gender stereotypes. Afterward, students discussed taking further action to combat sexism on this campus.
"It brings awareness to campus and makes people a little bit more aware about what the problems are," said senior Britney Sagastizado, a communication major and MGC president. "I think a lot of sexism is ingrained in society to the point where people don't realize they're sexist actions."
Throughout the event, students also had the opportunity to share their own experiences with sexism. Junior Bibiana Valdes said she encounters gender stereotypes in her classes, which are predominantly male.
"I've experienced [sexism] even in group projects where guys usually make me be the secretary," Valdes, an electrical engineering major said. "My classes are [between] sixty [and] seventy people and then there are [about] four or five girls in all of my classes … it's very difficult going to your professors because most professors are male."
However, discussions like this, Sagastizado said, bring awareness to this campus-wide issue.
"This is where it starts, the education portion is where you actually begin to become aware of what the issues are because I feel there are so many issues in society that people don't realize are actually problems because they are not actually aware of that information."