On Wednesday, October 7CNN in which a news anchor specifically stated that Greek life has become a plague to college campuses everywhere and needs to have a complete overhaul.
Here’s the deal: there are hundreds of sororities and fraternities nationally with thousands of chapters within each of those organizations. According to The Fraternity Advisor, there are 9 million Greek life members nationally. Compared to approximately 300 million citizens in the United States, that is a very small percentage of humans. Those 9 million Greeks raise on average $7 million towards their official philanthropies. This money is designated to every organization’s different philanthropy which includes but is not limited to: cancer research, disease and abuse foundations as well as organizations that assist with abused and neglected children going through the court system.
It wasn’t until I actually got to school and watched the sororities and fraternities interact that I realized how skewed Hollywood, my and so many others’ perception of Greek life actually is. Almost every woman and man I met that was in a Greek affiliation had higher grades as well as more academically challenged and driven, had more confidence and a much more rounded resume than the ones unaffiliated. I realized that there must be some kind of trend. And I wanted to be a part of it.
I decided to pledge Kappa Alpha Theta within the first month of going to school. Even going through the initial steps of the process, I was hesitant. I didn’t want to be a sorority girl because I certainly didn’t look the part. It did not take long for me to realize, however, that joining Theta was the best decision of my college experience.
People often say: “those who aren’t a part of it will never understand,” and I guess to a certain extent that is true. When I try to explain to my non-Greek friends why Theta is so important to me, I’m often brushed off as a typical band-wagoning sorority girl.
But coming from the inside, I can tell you that not only was I pushed to further and better my academia, I was also given the tools to have the confidence in myself as well as give back to my school and community.
Theta’s highest value is scholarship; I have to maintain certain grades to be in good standing with the sorority, while continuing to be challenged to strive for academic excellence. I can often find numerous of my sisters in the library studying together. We even have academic mentors. My active membership in my sorority plays a large roll in my continued status as a member of the Dean's List.
Our philanthropy, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) is an organization that through volunteer work, has mentors who bond and form friendships with the child(ren) while being the voice of the child(ren) in court cases. As a Theta, I have had the opportunity to work with these kids in mentor events, back to school benefits as well as fundraising events. My status as a member of Theta has gotten me involved with a cause that I have grown to love with a passion; it further ignites and encourages the passion I have to give back to my community through volunteer work.
Fellow Theta sister, Danielle Sandifier stated: “Majority of people who think Greek life is useless are the people who have never tried it out before. I can’t speak for other universities but I know here, Theta has given me a solid foundation and my home away from home. I’ve become so much more confident and well-rounded because of the amazing group of women that I’m surrounded by. Because of Theta, I’ve been able to branch out and get involved in other clubs that I wouldn’t have had the confidence to join. On top of that we’re all so supportive of each other, and I never feel like I can’t go and ask any of my sisters for anything that I need.”
One of my favorite parts of being a Theta is that I’m accepted as more than a Theta. I am consistently reminded that I am a student, a daughter, a sibling, a leader on campus, a member of other student clubs and organizations, a part-time worker and so much more. Greek life has not forced itself to be the most important aspect of my life but rather has enhanced my life, participation and dedication to other equally as important parts of my life. All the while, striving to challenge and guide me to being the most honest, loyal, trustworthy and hard-working person I can be.
With anything there is always good and bad. I think it is a shame that a few exceptions can create a bad name for a really good thing. Greek life is good. I have seen first-hand accounts of organizations on my campus as well as other campuses that are doing good within their chapters, for their schools as well as their communities. They’re making a difference on their campus and in the world. But there are chapters and specific instances that create a negative image towards Greek life that the media is more than happy to play on; the way it is portrayed on TV and in Hollywood not only shies people away from joining Greek life, but also creates this negativity towards the national organizations.
Every Greek organization on my campus supports their fellow Greek-life lovers. We go to each other’s events to help raise money for each fraternity or sorority’s philanthropy. We have dancing and singing competitions for fun. We participate in an 18-hour dance marathon to raise money for Kosair’s Children Miracle Network hospital (which is a leading hospital for treatment of child oncology). Last year, a member of a different organization passed away. The entire PanHellenic community had a candle-light vigil for her and her sisters. So no, CNN reporter, we aren’t just partying and getting drunk.
I don’t expect anyone on the “outside” to understand my feelings for Theta (and I know every Greek affiliated person feels the same way towards their organization). I found where I belong on campus; which I often refer to as “home.” I found sisters who love me for me and encourage me to be the best person I can become. I have found an organization that desires to better their school, community and each other as well as other Greek members. I can honestly say Theta and Greek life in general has changed me for the better. And now, I can’t imagine my life without it.