There has been an odd series of stories recently about sorority women at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio behaving in very inappropriate ways. In two separate incidents, sororities were suspended for underage drinking, vomiting, littering, and damaging an Ohio lodge and the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati. The gross behavior included a partygoer taking a dump outside the lodge during a “formal” for one of the sororities. The most recent story involves sorority sisters traveling to and from a “formal” at the Cincinnati Zoo who left a bus strewn with trash and coated with vomit and who so berated the bus driver with obscenities that the bus driver called it quits and left the unruly coeds at a gas station.
These stories raise certain at least two obvious questions. First, why is it called a “formal”? Any event where people are barfing and crapping in public sounds pretty darned informal to me. If this kind of behavior is considered appropriate for “formal” occasions, what godforsaken depraved behavior can be expected at informal events?
Second, how much of the attention given to these stories is based on the fact that sororities, and not fraternities, were involved? More than 30 years ago, Animal House got huge laughs for its depiction of a degenerate fraternity. Talk to any parent of a fraternity kid and you will see that the movie isn’t that much of an exaggeration. Fraternity kids drink heavily, do stupid stunts, and trash their fraternity houses, and people shrug and say “boys will be boys.” Stories of unruly fraternity activities are “dog bites man” stories. We tend to expect better conduct from sensible sorority women, however — which is part of the reason why the escapades of the boozy sorority sisters at Miami University are getting national attention.