Greek life: More than you might think

Lily McCutchon, member of Gamma Phi Beta, participates in Greek Week 2016. Photo by Topher McGehee

This is not “Animal House.” I repeat, this is not “Animal House.” Greek life is so much more than you think. Greek life is so much more than Hollywood thinks. Greek life is so much more than the normal person thinks.

“Greek life to me is a way to be a part of something, a brotherhood. Whenever I came into college, I had no intentions on rushing, but these guys came and sought me out and it was cool because they expressed interest in me and wanting to become my friend,” Taylor Thornton, marketing sophomore and president of Kappa Sigma, said. “And as you find out more about the fraternity you build lifelong connections and learn the history.”

Greek life means more than just partying or just living a crazy college lifestyle. Greek life offers students an opportunity to learn value, lessons, and opportunities.

“For me, I’ve found some of my best friends through Greek life, guys who will be standing next to me at my wedding. It has also given me the opportunity to become a leader, and to learn more about how to excel at life, and you learn how to manage school and be social, and those lessons have shaped the person I am today,” Thornton said.

Greek life is not for everyone. Some people will drop out and some are reluctant to pull the trigger.

“I was always super hesitant about it, and didn’t think I would join a fraternity, but I met the people and became friends with them, and I really liked some of the guys. But honestly the most important reason I joined was resume building. There is a huge network with Greek life, and I think it will help my future when looking for a job, ” Jackson Simmons, biology and chemistry junior and Sigma Alpha Epsilon member, said.

Some current members of fraternities were not sure they wanted to join a fraternity, but are glad they joined.

“I tell people I cannot make them join and I will not make them join. I just tell them that joining was one of the best experiences and decisions in my life that I have made,” Thornton said. “And I can tell you that if you join and do not like it, you can get out, but I almost guarantee you, if you join, you will like it and get something out of it.”

The Inter-Fraternity Council holds formal rush each semester, where potential new members can sign up to join a fraternity or sorority. The latter and the former hold meet and greets as well as other social events such as barbecues, sports days and a formal night.The fraternities and sororities have also adopted the big-little program which is essentially an established member showing a new member the ropes of the fraternity or sorority. Greek life often has a stigma that education is not important and comes second to partying but Greek life increases the education quality for its members.

“Greek life holds you accountable. We have grades that we have to meet with the school, but as an individual chapter, we have grades that we want our members to make each semester,” Thornton said.

Each fraternity and sorority has set up study hours as well as tutoring for members to exceed in the classroom. If you do not meet grade standards, the fraternity will drop you.

“I have always valued education, being a biology and chemistry major, education has always been important to me. To me education is first before the fraternity,” Simmons said.

In Greek life, education is first.

“Now don’t get me wrong,” Thornton said, “We still have our fun, but we take care of our business and get our work done.”

Greek life has many preconceived notions. However, Greek life also functions like a business.

“Greek life is a business and you have to run the business and you have to run the parts of it and do it right,” Riley Carr, nursing sophomore, and Sigma Nu president, said.

Greek life is a social club and members say Greek life teaches them how to talk to people.

“We are a social organization, so we have to be actively social, and being able to find small things with people in common to build connections with people is important and can help you with any area in life,” Carr said.

Philanthropy is an important aspect of fraternities and sororities. The fraternities have community service programs where they have raised money to fight child abuse, raise money for the homeless, as well as collect clothes for donation.

“I know for a fact SAE advocates for community service, we raised money for Patsy’s house, we’re always building shelters, and walking dogs, whatever it is we want to help the community. I think it’s a good organization when you can meet people and be there for the community at the same time,” Simmons said.

Greek life grants members unique experiences.

“One of the things I did not realize is how time consuming it can be if you want to be involved. Sometimes its exhausting to be involved socially and staying up with school work,” Simmons said.

For many of the members of the fraternities and sororities, joining Greek life made the transition from high school to college smoother.

“Coming in as a freshman I didn’t know many people, and I wanted to make friends. Rushing and joining Kappa Sigma for me helped me find myself and who I was,” Thornton said.

Joining a fraternity or sorority is not free. However, prices vary with each fraternity or sorority and the fees go back to the fraternity to provide the fraternity or sorority with things.

“You get out what you put into it. Greek life compared to most organizations on campus is expensive but at Midwestern it is relatively cheap compared to other campuses. So yes you pay dues, but if you are active and participate you get much more value from joining Greek life,” Simmons said.

Each member has their own personal reasons for joining Greek life, maybe for the brotherhood,  the resume building or just wanting to meet new people.

Greek life has taught its members life lessons.

“Greek life has humbled me and taught me leadership and how to stand up. Sometimes things don’t go your way, and Greek life has taught me when life throws you lemons to make lemonade,” Thornton said.

Greek life has many stigmas. Greek life is not like the movies, Greek life has more substance. Greek life is not “Animal House.”

“Greek life is not the movies. We take it much more serious than the movies portray. Greek life is not “Animal House,” we hold each other to higher standards, and it is a business,” Carr said. “We don’t want our members to be normal individuals, we want our members to be leaders and scholars.”

How to join Greek life: 

  • Sign up
  • Talk to fraternities or sororities that interest you
  • Engage in official social events
  • Hope for a bid by the fraternity or sorority
  • Rush that fraternity or sorority

 

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