Once you’re in XYZ, everything that you do reflects XYZ. Whether XYZ is a Greek organization, a company, a sect of religion, or even your school, the affiliations that you have will always follow you. Once you join that group, you are one of them, and your actions represent everyone in that group.
If a group of rowdy students wearing their Cornell hoodies are rude in a restaurant in Ithaca, it makes Cornell look bad as a whole, regardless of the fact that those seven students shouldn’t represent all of the Cornell population. That’s simply how it goes. Similarly, if one person from a sorority makes a mistake or behaves inappropriately, the name of that chapter as a whole will be right next to the individual’s name in the title on the front page of the paper.
The way that representing your organizations works on a college campus is a microcosm for the way it works in real life. For example, if a scandal happens with an employee of a certain company, that company’s name gets dragged through the mud. Media does not care that it was only one person who committed the “crime”, the company is still relevant. And it always will be. So when something like that happens, just embrace that group hug.
We are naturally linked with our workplaces, our communities, our schools, and any other organizations in which we participate or to which we belong. Why is that? Why isn’t it just that I got in trouble? Me, an individual person? Not my whole community. Well, let’s look at in the other way. If I were to achieve something really great, wouldn’t the group or company want to market it as a group success? “An XYZ girl won the medal.” In a sports game, even though only one player scores that winning goal, the entire time still revels in the victory. Well just as one person’s victories are the group’s victories, so too their mistakes are the group’s mistakes. It has to work both ways.
So the next time that we are trying to distinguish between the individual and his or her group, we need to remember that society often does not make that distinction. The price and responsibility of joining a group on campus, as always, comes with representing that group in all that you do. You’re always wearing your letters.