Greek Life: More Than Just a Party

Greek Life: More Than Just a Party

There is a bad stigma around Greek life and it needs to change.
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Across the country there is a bad stigma surrounding Greek life on college campuses. Members of sororities and fraternities are often seen as loud, drunk party animals who are only a nuisance to the town they reside in. Locals who permanently reside in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, often referred to as “Townies” by Bloomsburg University students, testify that Greeks cause more harm than good in any college town. Many even go as far as persuading the town to take away Greek houses all together.

There is no hiding that members of the Greek community at any college partake in partying and drinking. This behavior often gets out of control which creates a bad reputation for Greeks. For example, every year Bloomsburg University students plan and organize an annual block party that brings in students from all over Pennsylvania. The students fill the streets with alcohol in hand causing the town to have to triple police enforcement on that specific weekend. In 2013, a party being hosted by a Greek organization, got extremely out of hand and police were required to utilize tear gas to break it up. Because the incident occurred at a Greek residence, all members of Bloomsburg University’s Greek community were represented in a negative light.

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Video retrieved from YouTube "Dr. Jacob Eber Wright/BloomuToday"

The Side of Greeks You Don’t See

To many Non-Greek members of the community, it is easy to only see this side of Greeks. They do play loud music on the weekends, drink excessively, host parties that get out of control, and have beer cans and bottles littered across their lawns every weekend. However, what people don’t see is the hours of community service spend towards helping their community, the hours spent studying at the library, or the hours spent at leadership conferences to improve their chapter.

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“People outside of Greek life never take the opportunity to recognize that we do have events that don't involve drinking because then that would break the stereotype. I have participated in tons of community service, fundraising and philanthropy events since I've joined Greek life and couldn't be happier to give back to others. Greeks do give back and it's something that people need to recognize,” says Gabrielle Guarrera, Bloomsburg University student and Greek life member.

At Bloomsburg University, every single Greek life member is required to participate in ten community service hours every semester, attend community cleanups after events such as Homecoming and Block Party, maintain a minimum GPA of a 2.5, have mandatory study hours for new members, and attend risk management seminars to educate themselves about alcohol awareness, drugs, sexual assault, hazing, etc. Also, individual chapters have unique programs in place for members of their organization who are struggling in school. Last year alone, the Bloomsburg University Greek community recorded over 10,000 hours of community service done by Greek life and almost 25,000 hours annually with many members averaging 30-35 hours completed each semester; 15-20 hours more than they are required to do.

Why Do Students Choose to Go Greek?

Students decide to join a Greek organizations for several reasons and that will differ from person to person. For some, it is just for the party. However, what they will come to realize is that with the partying comes fulfilling responsibilities to their chapter, campus, and community. For others, it may be a home away from home. Making bonds with the brothers and sisters surrounding them fills a void that may exist from being far from their families. For others, it can simply be a way to meet new people and make friends. And then there are those few who really do join Greek life to give back to their chapter, campus, and community.

It is not until someone joins a sorority or fraternity, that they will realize how much more Greek life is than just drinking and partying. They realize that memories are not made at the parties; they are made at the community service events, sober lock-ins, movie nights, haunted house trips, awareness events, and family dinners.

"We are more than just three letters across our chest and a solo cup in our hand. We're a family and a community that cares for one another and about the people around us. We give back to those who need it and genuinely care about others. We're each other’s support system and being a part of Greek life puts a smile on my face whenever I see a sister around campus," says Kate Dillon, Bloomsburg University student and Greek life member.

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It's not all singing and small talk...

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DISCLAIMER: This is not an article intended to bash my former sorority, this is an article to inform girls of things I failed to realize before joining a sorority and to give them an idea of what sorority life is like to see if it's for them.

1. Rush week is just as stressful as everyone makes it out to be.

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Think about it: seven days, hours of making small talk trying to impress every girl you encounter, all while trying to walk like a normal human being in your 5 inch heels.

2. Rush week is not for the thin-skinned.

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Going into rush week, I had no idea that sororities could drop me in the blink of an eye. Remember that if your favorite sorority drops you on one of the nights, it is not the end of the world, and another sorority will want you and all your amazing personality traits.

3. Being in a sorority is a much bigger commitment than TV makes it out to be.

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While sororities do hold fun events throughout the school year such as socials and grab-a-dates, there are many obligations that girls fail to realize before joining a sorority. Philanthropy events, weekly chapter meetings, etc.

4. It can leave a huge financial dent in your wallet.

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While you do get insight before actually joining the sorority on how much it will cost, many girls, including myself, looked past that during rush week. Once the dues come in, they add up quickly, and can really leave a mark in your bank account.

5. These girls will be your new friend circle, and you might forget about some of your old ones you made before rush week.

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During my time being a sorority girl, I did feel an obligation to make a lot of friends in my sorority. While I was wrapped up in spending so much time making my new friend group, I failed to realize I was leaving some of my non-sorority friends behind. While I do encourage you to make as many friends as possible in your sorority, remember to keep in touch with your old ones. Maybe invite your non-sorority friends to one of your socials!

6. You have a new reputation to maintain.

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You and your sorority don't want to be known as, "the (insert sorority name here) that threw up everywhere at the party." When you join a sorority, there is a positive image you have to maintain in order to hold a good name for the sorority, and the girls in it.

7.There is a GPA requirement for every sorority.

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8. If sorority life isn't for you, there are other ways to make a lifelong group of friends.

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While many people revert to Greek life as their one and only option of meeting girls on campus, there are so many other clubs and organizations every school has to offer that will get you just as close with people. While some girls love Greek life, sorority life is not for everyone, and nobody should feel like it is.

Wrapping up, I did not hate my sorority at all. I had other reasons for dropping my sorority that had nothing to do with them, but one big one was that it was just not for me. I am still in close touch with some of the girls in my sorority, and I do not blame my sorority for my feelings towards it.

Greek life truly is an acquired taste. Some people will love it for life, and for others, it's just another club on campus.

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