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Hazing News

Greek creator speaks in public at Ball State March 31

Shawn Smith will speak 7:30 p.m. March 31 in the L.A. Pittenger Student Center Ball Room of Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana as part of Greek Week.
By: Joe Cermak
Posted: 3/24/08
Members of greek life struggle with stereotypes and realities found in the show “Greek,” which begins its second season today.

The show depicts several characters who are greek-life members at Cyprus-Rhodes University.

Eric Maroun, Greek Week steering committee chairman, said he enjoyed the show for the comedy, not accuracy.

“They aren’t going to show community service on ABC Family,” he said. “The show’s portrayal of greek life hypes certain aspects of the lifestyle, which perpetuates stereotypes for entertainment.”

Interfraternity Council President Cody Willis said the greek community is split on whether the show sends a positive or negative message.

“This show might go along with what people already believe,” he said.

Willis said the show accurately depicts greek life when fraternity and sorority members come together in hard times.

Panhellenic Council President Amanda Hendrix said the show sparked a debate about the depiction of greeks at Ball State.

The show’s depiction of greek life is not spiteful, she said, but it’s done to provide entertainment. The show has dealt with serious issues such as hazing, she said.

“They portrayed the fact that people help each other, and greeks see [hazing] as a problem and don’t agree with it,” she said.

Jessica Patterson, Greek Week steering committee member, said the stereotypes addressed by the show are laughed at because they are outrageous.

“I don’t see anything as outrageous [at Ball State] as they show on the show,” she said.

Those who have a problem with the show can speak with the show’s creator Shawn Smith when he visits Ball State University during Greek Week.

Patterson said the committee began working toward bringing Shawn Smith to campus in October.

She said she spoke with Smith, and he never had the opportunity to do any public speaking before coming to Ball State.

“We are letting him here because there is a controversy over the portrayal of the Greek system,” she said.

She said he was not part of the greek life system and was excited to hear feedback about the show.

“He knows he will come to an environment where they love or hate the show,” Patterson said.

Smith will speak about the research he did for the show and its story lines, and also about the television industry for telecommunications and theatre students, she said.

“A lot of kids are interested in hearing from directors and producers,” she said.

The steering committee had trouble finding a high-profile speaker in the past, she said, which lead them to inviting Smith to Ball State.

Patterson said Greek Week would be a good time to hear what he has to say and connect the greek and non-greek communities.

Coming up

* “Greek” appears on ABC Family today at 8 p.m.
* Shawn Smith will speak 7:30 p.m. March 31 in the L.A. Pittenger Student Center Ball Room as part of Greek Week.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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