Tag Archives: greek life

Apollo and the Island of Rhodes

Informant Info:

  • Nationality: Greek
  • Occupation: Professor
  • Residence: Connecticut 
  • Primary language: Greek

Text and context:

I.T chose to inform me on one of the most well known myths from Rhodes, the island in Greece where he is originally from. The myth surrounds the island of Rhodes and involves Helios, which is the sun in Greek. The myth begins with the day the Greek Gods met to decide who would be the patron god for each island/ region. Zeus gifted a beautiful island that was beginning to emerge from the ocean to Apollo. This island is Rhodos, and this is why the patron god of Rhodos is Apollo. I.T informed me that Rhodes has more days with Sun than any other place, even while other places are more South and should be receiving more sunlight than Rhodes. The god sun is Apollo, and I.T says Apollo was carrying the sun behind his horses as he rode across the universe. Apollo rode with his horses and the Sun, and he would stop more times in Rhodos, hence why Rhodes has more sun. 


I recently went to Greece for the first time, specifically in the islands of Rhodes and Athens. I spent the majority of the time in Rhodes, where I.T is from. I.T introduced me and my fellow USC peers to the history of Rhodes, which is his true home. As I walked the streets of Rhodes, I saw symbols of Apollo carved into buildings. At the center of all the symbols, Apollo’s head was always located. I.E informed us that in the head of Apollo is the symbol for Rhodes. Through this myth, I was able to see how the Greek people also use creation stories to explain how parts of Greece came to be. Some Greeks also believe that Rhodes is the most sunny place on Earth because of their Patron God, and they use Apollo to explain this. In Rhodes, people greatly praise Apollo, and they carefully cherish the Acropolis of Rhodes, where the remains of the temple of Apollo is also located.

Soulas Greek Festivals

Informant Information:

  • Nationality: Greek
  • Occupation: Professor
  • Primary language: Greek/  English 

Context & Text:

I.T spoke on village life in Rhodos, and going with family to the monastery of Soulas, where the yearly festivals were held. E.T said, “These festivals are lost in time, beyond recorded time in Greece, they have occurred continuously..” From the neothlithic period, Greece has had a religious component and a form of entertainment for people. The monastery has served as a temple for the god Dionysus, the god of wine and good luck. The monastery is located In the mounts, surrounded by pine trees. These festivals take place in July for the whole month, where the village people become united. These festivals also served as a time to establish friendships and relationships, especially since the whole island and other islands like Athens would go to compete in athletic games. I.T recalls his village making huts from the branches of the trees and staying there for a month, children playing in the stadium, and everyone would dance and sing. He described these festivals as a sort of business expo, where people would bring animals to sell, or ceramics, dry foods, etc. This location is a sight to marry because of the significance of the place to the whole island, I.T mentioned how his own daughter chose to marry there. At these festivals, traditional food was made and drinks were open to everyone, there was no age limit. However, drinks could only be offered by adults and the purpose of drinking alcohol was for appetite and good company. Wine wasn’t used to get drunk, if they got drunk they would not be allowed to drink again and they would lose respect for breaking a code of conduct. 


I, myself, have been to the monastery of Soulas on my first visit to the island of Rhodos, Greece. This is where I met I.T, and he was born and raised in Rhodos and knows all about its magnificent culture. Upon visiting this site, I was able to learn more about Greek culture, specifically in Rhodos. When researching this sight in particular, I found that inside the temple there is a sacred water source that is believed to hold healing properties. In the outside area surrounding the temple, there are various sports facilities in which the competitions occur for the athletic games. Additionally, I found that these annual festivals that take place in the summer are done in honor of Saint Soulas, and pilgrims travel there days in advance to prepare for the festival. I believe that the Greek people hold such a strong sense of national pride, and they love to honor their rich culture by opening their doors to everyone in events such as the festivals of Soulas. 

The “Bell Run”

Background information/context of performance: GP is a 21-year-old student at Beloit University in Wisconsin. She grew up in Alameda, CA, but is currently living on-campus at Beloit. Beloit is a very small university, so many traditions are well-known throughout the entire student body, according to GP.

GP: Beloit does this thing where we all run to this bell in the middle of campus from what we call “The Wall” naked, and usually drunk, and then you have to pee on the bell. It’s called a “Bell Run”. It sounds gross (laughs). I don’t really know where or why it started, it’s kinda hard to figure it out. 

Me: That’s okay, you can just tell me about your own experience with this tradition. 

GP: Well personally, I know about it because I’ve been told by my peer mentor when I started college. I also saw a lot of people doing it on the weekends, especially people in like frats or sororities. I feel like it would make sense if it originated from Greek life here, I think a lot of people do it during initiation or, like, that kind of thing. That’s how most people I know ended up doing it. 

Me: What do you think of this tradition? I’ve never heard of it, but it sounds pretty entertaining.

GP: To me, it’s just one of those college traditions where people can do something kind of taboo on a regular day and not get…stigmatized for it. Like of course it’s supposed to be embarrassing, and it is embarrassing, but no one gets in trouble for it even though it happens all the time. It’s definitely a form of hazing, but in my eyes it’s a more harmless tradition and it’s supposed to be funny, as long as you’re not forcing people to do it. I’ve never seen anyone who was forced to do it but…I’m sure it happens especially in frats. It probably depends on if you’re doing it for Greek life or if you’re doing it because you’re drunk and want to do something stupid (laughs). But Beloit doesn’t have a super intense Greek life culture, so I think it just feels more fun and less scary. 

Me: That’s interesting how you brought up doing something taboo, I feel like a lot of college traditions are kind of like that. I agree that as long as no one is getting hurt, and everyone is having fun, it seems like a good time (laughs). Have you ever done a Bell Run? 

GP: I did one when I joined my sorority this year. It was funny because I didn’t know if I would have to do it or not but I was dreading it the whole time (laughs). I ended up doing it at like 5 am one day. I wore underwear still. I wasn’t trying to have everyone see me naked. 

GP’s idea that traditions like the Bell Run are a way for college students to engage in something taboo, without it feeling too inappropriate or embarrassing, was compelling because I think that it spoke to the idea that many traditions in various cultures may not be deemed appropriate without the context of folklore. The Bell Run provides context to a behavior that would be seen as very strange and vulgar without knowing the tradition behind it. I think that many other college traditions are similar, since they often involve drinking and engaging in public displays embarrassing or funny behavior.  In addition, GP’s belief that this tradition has been popularized primarily by Greek Life offers some insight into how groups like fraternities and sororities create a feeling of closeness and exclusive membership through customs like this. 



Informant: I think this is like our second or third day into Hell Week, and we had had some kind of––we were in the courtyard, and they’d given us these giant bowls of chocolate pudding… And it turned into a food fight. So we had, like, just gone nuts, or you know… Spitting and throwing pudding at each other, and just tackling each other in pudding. So what the actives didwas, they put us in the middle of the courtyard in a group and hosed us down to try and get some of the pudding off, right? Well… They finally said, “Alright. The hose isn’t working. You guys go take a shower.” So what they made us do is we all get in the showers. So they had us all strip down, and the pledges all have the same clothes on. We all have camouflage pants, white underwear, and a white T-shirt. And they threw all of our clothes in a big pile… And… They let us take showers for the first time in like three days, and we were feeling pretty good. And then they shut the water off, and they started yelling and they’re like, “All right, you guys have thirty seconds or whatever to get clothes on and get to bed.” And we were just like, “What?” And we had no idea how to figure out whose clothes were whose. So you just grab whatever pair of underwear you found, threw them on. You try to find pants that fit you, put them on, and a T-shirt. And so you went from a nice hot shower into these ice cold––‘cause it’s January in LA and we’ve been outside getting hosed with cold water––so you’re putting on sticky… Chocolate-covered… Clothes, after a nice hot shower. And then you’re crammed into a tiny tiny room where we had to sleep like literally on top of each other, and we’re told to go to bed. So we’re like lying there in these gooey, cold wet clothes… That was just the worst night of Hell Week for me, ‘cause you just itched… But then you also just had the, you know, burrito eating contests where they designed this burrito to make you throw up. So they put everything in it including chewing tobacco. So it was like, you know, raw fish and fricken chopped up squid. And uh, whoever finished it first––and it was giant––got a beer. So… Everyone knew it was either gonna be me or [X] that was gonna win. ‘Cause most guys––there was, you know, guys were throwing up––cause most guys couldn’t keep it down. And [X] and I went at it, and I beat him and he was so bummed. So, that was that… And like they gave us a night in LA and we had to go out and come back with tributes. So they gave us a couple of cars and the goal was to end––this is the middle of the night. We had to go out into Los Angeles and come back with tributes to the Hell Masters. So my team found a street sign that had the name of one of our founders on it. Just coincidence, right? So other teams are coming in with like liquor bottles or whatever, and we walked in with this giant freaking California Department of Transportation road sign. And that stuff was just fun.


Interviewer: Did you enjoy Hell Week at all? 

Informant: I did, personally, ‘cause I like that stuff… When the Jackass Train left the station I was gonna be on it… I mean, I showed up a day late to Hell Week. [X] and I both did. So the Hell Masters threw everything at us. So when everyone else had to go running, you know, [X] and I had to run circles around them while eating a raw onion. But I just came from the mountains so I could have run all day. And we got a lot of respect from the actives by just rollin’ with everything they freaking threw at us. I just thought it was hysterical. 

Interviewer: Did it bring you closer to the other pledges?

Informant: Kind of. It was all about unity, you know?  Like the actives tell you, “You guys are one unit. If your pledge brother can’t make it, you help him out no matter what it is.” And that could be with like running or push-ups or whatever. A lot of the time it was just eating. I mean they’d try to make us overeat, and [X] and I ate freaking everyone’s food for them and there’s guys like throwing up. But, you know it’s… It’s not like you’re a soldier where somebody’s life is on the line and you’re there for them in their time of need. You’re not bonded in that way. There was never an episode where I can help somebody other than, you know, eating their hamburger. And I was just happy to get food. So it was less about, like, being there for your pledge bros, and it was more about proving yourself to the actives.


In their article “Crossing the Line,” Jennifer J. Waldron & Christopher L. Kowalski write, “Initiation rites and rituals are particularly important for men in sex-segregated environments… In the anthropological literature, [Don] Sabo suggested that male rites serve as a means for older players to persuade younger members, often through pain infliction, to conform to the social roles and appropriate behaviors of the team” (291-92). This text is specifically geared towards hazing on athletic teams, but can be applied to hazing within a fraternity, which is also a sex-segregated space. Hazing can be used to establish a hierarchy of power and authority, and to ensure the new members understand where they are ranked on the totem pole.

This informant, however, established a power of his own through the hazing process. Rather than be left feeling submissive and weakened, he felt it was a chance to prove himself to the actives and gain their respect. Thus, while hazing may be a way to put pledges “in their place,” so to speak, it is also a chance for a pledge to stand out. For those who want to prove themselves to the actives, and who fit a more stereotypically, hyper-masculine mold––who eat copious amounts of food, are physically fit, enjoy drinking a lot of alcohol, etc.––it can be a positive experience, and an “appropriate” rite of passage as they enter a hyper-masculine environment.


Source cited above:

Waldron, Jennifer J., and Christopher L. Kowalski. “Crossing the Line: Rites of Passage, Team Aspects, and Ambiguity of Hazing.” Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, vol. 80, no. 2, Taylor & Francis Group, 2009, pp. 291–302, doi:10.1080/02701367.2009.10599564.

Frat Party Guidelines

AB: “What sort of unusual or special traditions does your frat have?”

RD: “Oh my god, you want the tea. Oh my god I feel embarrassed thinking because they’re just all so dumb. Oh, I have a good one, it’s called—you’re gonna laugh. It’s called “No Crying Bitches on the Stairs”

AB: “So what is this… stairs thing? Is it a chant?”

RD: “It’s a rule. A mantra. We would say it before parties and stuff.”

AB: “Okay, why don’t you tell me how it started”

RD: “Let’s see, I think this is what I was told. There was a girl at one of our house parties, and I think her boyfriend was there and he just broke up with her or something, so she started crying on the stairs. And it was just… chaotic, I guess. It’s like, a small staircase, so people were stuck upstairs and downstairs and like people were all around her trying to cheer her up making it even worse, and somebody even fell off at one point and I think they broke a foot or something. Anyway, I think they got suspended for a while because there were so many people there it was a fire hazard. So ever since then, well, no crying bitches on the stairs!

AB: “Oh I see. So how does it turn up now?”

RD: “Well, we usually like, chant it before we host a party. Somebody asks, “What’s the number one rule!?” and then we shout, “No crying bitches on the stairs!” It really just means nobody on the stairs just hanging out. Like it doesn’t matter if they’re actually crying or a bitch. But it’s basically just the number one rule of party monitoring. So like, whoever is in charge of hosting the party just has to keep an eye on the stairs.

Informant’s interpretation:

AB: “What does this rule say about your frat?”

RD: “Well, I think it reflects what’s going in frat culture just kinda in general, you know. Like I feel like frats get criticized a lot now for drinking and drug problems, and I know my frat has been suspended a bunch recently for stuff like that. But anyway, now frats are having to like figure out how they can still keep being frats with a fun party identity, and also be safe and responsible. And I think “No crying bitches on the stairs” is like, one way that’s happening. .”

Personal interpretation:

Chants are a well-known aspect of Greek life, and they’re typically easy to remember and fun to repeat or say. In this case, the chant shows how a newer concern for personal safety has entered into familiar and easily transmissible forms of Greek life-culture.