GLO Truth or Fiction?

The excitement of recruitment season is upon the Greek-Letter Organization world. Offering examples of men and women who have worn GLO badges seems like a good selling strategy. Is it?

Here are a few questionable social media posts I’ve read with my own eyes.  There was a time when chapters could make all sort of spurious claims and no one would ever know whether these claims were true or false. After all, it would take hours and days of research in stacks of books in a library to refute the claims. Today it takes only a few minutes on the internet to determine whether urban myths are just that or if they have some truth to them. I remember how crushed I was, a few years ago, to find out that Marlo Thomas’ kite flying at the end of the That Girl intro was just kite flying and not a shout out to her Theta sisters.

Are these recent claims made on social media true or false?

All but two presidents since 1825 have been Greek. Variations include “born after 1825” and “all but three.”

FALSE See for an explanation. Off the top of my head, Barack Obama, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, and Richard Nixon are recent (during my lifetime) Presidents who have not been fraternity men. Others have been honorary members. The number of U.S. Presidents initiated into GLOs while college students is the more impressive list. 

frater reagan

Both female Supreme Court justices are sorority women.

FALSE. And never mind that four women have served as U.S. Supreme Court Justices. Only one, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Alpha Epsilon Phi, is a member of a National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) organization. Although there are rumors to the contrary, Sandra Day O’Connor is not a sorority woman. She attended Stanford University when there were no NPC chapters on campus.

Ruth Bader Cornell University yearbook)

Ruth Bader as a student at Cornell University

Every Apollo 11 astronaut was a fraternity man. 

FALSE. There were three men aboard Apollo 11, Neil A. Armstrong, Michael Collins, and Edwin Eugene “Buzz” Aldrin, Jr.; Collins and Aldrin went to West Point where there are no social fraternities. Aldrin was elected to Tau Beta Pi, an engineering honor society. Armstrong was a fraternity man having been initiated into the Phi Delta Theta chapter at Purdue University.

The first American woman in space was a sorority woman.

FALSE. Sally Ride was not, but there have been many other female astronauts who are sorority women. See that list.

This book about astronauts, had these two female astronauts on the same page. One is a sorority woman and the other is not, The sorority woman is Judith Resnick, Alphe Epsilon Phi, and not Sally Ride.

This book about astronauts, had these two female astronauts on the same page. One is a sorority woman and the other is not, The sorority woman is Judith Resnick, Alpha Epsilon Phi, and not Sally Ride.

There is one sorority badge which has been voted “most beautiful fraternal (or sorority) badge” and is on display in American fraternal and sorority collegiate collection at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

FALSE. I’ve seen at least three women’s organizations make this claim. I asked a friend who has been at the Smithsonian for decades to help me track this down urban myth. Is there an American fraternal and sorority collegiate collection? The contact who researched this query responded that the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian does not have any sorority pins and there is no an American fraternal and sorority collegiate collection. There are a few fraternity pins which may have come in as singular items within larger collections.

It’s OK to call new sorority members “babies.”

Do I even have to respond to this one? When the term “pledge” fell out of favor, somehow “babies” seemed, to some chapter members, to be a good substitute. REALLY? Please if you are a sorority woman and are you are calling your chapter’s new members “babies” please stop. Stop now. It’s degrading to call intelligent women that name.

At least one fraternity badge has been to the moon

TRUE. The first fraternity badge which made its way to the moon was the one belonging to Neil Armstrong, an initiate of the Phi Delta Theta chapter at Purdue University. He was the first man to walk on the moon. Upon his return to Earth, he presented the badge to Phi Delta Theta and it is on display at the fraternity’s headquarters in Oxford. However, contrary to rumor, he never pinned it on the American flag on the moon, nor did he pin his wife’s Alpha Chi Omega badge to the American flag.


© Fran Becque,, 2016. All Rights Reserved. If  you enjoyed this post, please sign up for updates. Also follow me on twitter @GLOHistory and Pinterest

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