April 11, 2012


Negative stereotypes of Greek life are nothing new. As sorority women, we have spent countless hours defending bad reputations given by movies like The House Bunny and Animal House to campus administration, the media, friends and family. We are forced to explain that being in a sorority does not mean we’re arrogant, shallow or unintelligent—in fact, it is just the opposite! So why do some find it funny to make light of these labels?

The acronym “TSM” stands for “Total Sorority Move” and was coined by the website totalfratmove.com. The site’s perspective on what a “Total Sorority Move” is differs greatly from my Alpha Phi experience. Here are a few of many distasteful excerpts:

“It’s not hazing, it’s hierarchy. TSM.”
“Dear standards, sorry for partying. TSM.”
“I make sandwiches, not decisions. TSM.”

Are these things to be proud of? I sure don’t think so. While it is easy to laugh off these statements, it is just as easy for non-Greeks to see them as confirmations of the stereotypes they’ve always heard. If we don’t show respect for our organizations, how can we expect others to?

Since my initiation two years ago, I have made some of my closest friends through Alpha Phi. I’ve supported a great cause while participating in the Gamma Omicron chapter’s Fast Phi’t philanthropy events, and have helped colonize a new Alpha Phi chapter at Creighton University. I was proud to be in the chapter with the highest GPA in Greek life last spring, and am excited to meet sisters from around the country at the Alpha Phi Emerging Leaders Institute (ELI) this summer. And while the social events and formals have been incredibly fun, these are the reasons I will value my time as a collegiate Alpha Phi and will be proud to be part of this organization for the rest of my life.

Fellow NPC group Tri Sigma suggested on their blog earlier this year that sorority women should consider replacing “TSM” with “RSM”—Real Sorority Move. Instead of promoting the stereotypes shown in the media, this acronym promotes our sisterhood, the values we swore to abide by, and the outstanding benefits of being a member of a great organization. Here are some alternative “Real Sorority Moves”:

“Going to school for my MBA, not my MRS. RSM.”
“Always acting as if you’re wearing your letters. RSM.”

And, as Tri Sigma states on their blog,
“Realizing that the term TSM may have been corrupted by negativity and arrogance. RSM.”

So, before you upload that spring break picture or post a status concluding with “TSM,” keep in mind that it will be a reflection of Alpha Phi whether it includes letters or not. As Alpha Phis, we already know that our organization is made up of quality women with outstanding character—let’s make sure that the rest of the world sees us that way, too!

Use the hashtag #RSM on Twitter to tell us your Real Sorority Moves.

Maria Opatz is a collegiate member at Drake (Gamma Omicron). Read her bio here.


Miss.Kyoko said...

I agree. I have come across the total sorority move website and was appalled by what I saw. My campus does not have a big greek presence and I was under the impression that all greek communities were like ours (not the stereotype) and was surprised to find girls happily subscribing to this stereotype.

The only thing I disagree with is that House Bunny negatively portrays sororities. I think that the Zeta's are pretty accurate representation true sororities. They are a diverse group of girls that are smart and Shelly helps them find confidence within themselves which helps them save their chapter.

Vanessa Gorski said...

Maria, I am SO glad you posted this. I'm a proud Alpha Phi from Chapman University in Southern California and your blog was posted on our facebook group wall. No matter what chapter we are and where we study, stereotypes are a challenge we all face. And you make such a great point saying it's easy for us to take these "tsm"s lightly..and it's just as easy for non-greeks to bend the other way. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am so proud to call you a sister. AOE<3