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Sunday, March 07, 2021

Tri-Delta international president, UF alumna speaks out against TV show

Sunday afternoon outside the immaculate Delta Delta Delta sorority house, polished young women walked up and down the stairs in a practiced fashion.

Showing off perfect pearly whites, they walked with their hands folded neatly behind their backs, practicing for their final recruitment ceremonies.

Despite what ABC Family?s TV show, "GREEK," might suggest, there were no catfights, no keg stands and no togas.

Christine Bainer, president of the sorority known as Tri Delta, wants to make sure viewers don?t believe those stereotypes.

Bainer, a UF political campaigns senior, said it?s important for outsiders to try to understand what sorority life is about without relying on gross exaggerations shown on TV.

Michelle Shimberg, international president of Tri Delta Sorority who was a part of the UF chapter from 1981 to 1984, recently issued a complaint about the show, which portrays fictional fraternities and sororities.

"I am particularly concerned with how ABC Family?s 'GREEK? continues to use sex, drinking and scheming relationships to define its lead female characters and the sorority experience overall," Shimberg wrote in the statement.

In an interview, Shimberg said she doesn?t intend to protest the show, but she?d like to work with ABC Family to realistically develop the female characters.

"The relationships are not reflective of the values of our organization," she said. "They are not reflective of the friendships."

ABC Family has not responded to her statements, she said.

On past episodes of "GREEK," the characters prepared for midterms.

Members of a fictional fraternity, Kappa Tau, studied from 30 years worth of tests collected from fellow Kappa Taus, according to a synopsis on ABC Family?s Web site.

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Previously, Casey, a fictional sorority member, ordered her arch-nemesis who is a pledge to go on a nearly impossible X-rated scavenger hunt. Campus police later picked up the pledge.

Bainer said though the show has presented an untrue picture of sorority life, it has not affected the number of women interested in joining UF?s chapter of Tri Delta this year.

When asked what makes sorority life distinctive, she immediately answered.

"It?s the sisterhood," she said matter-of-factly, as she sat in a pristine common room of Tri Delta?s sterile new house.

Bainer, a slender woman with manicured nails and a neatly pulled-back bun, said she has friends who are not in the sorority, but "my relationship with the Tri Deltas is just a little closer."

The main purpose of the sorority is to develop high moral character in its members, she said.

Of course, there?s always time for fun, too, she added.

She said partying and alcohol are part of college life, not just Greek life, adding that Tri-Delta discourages binge drinking.

"There are women in every chapter who don?t drink at all," Bainer said. "It?s really damaging to stereotype an entire group of women who are very diverse."

Shimberg said she also understands drinking is a part of college, but the only parts of "GREEK" she?s seen involving female characters portray irresponsibility and manipulation.

"They show none of their goals, achievements or leadership activities," she said.

"One of the early shows depicted preparation for the recruitment process, and much of what they were focused on was appearance and clothing," she said. "That?s not reflective of what we are."

Shimberg said she?s spoken to several parents who have voiced concern about the well being of their students, which only bolsters her determination to set the record straight.

She said she understands that "GREEK" is only meant to entertain but said she hopes her outcry will make a difference.

"If we could adapt the show to be more reflective of sorority membership, that would be our primary goal," Shimberg said. "That wouldn?t take away from the entertainment value."

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