I compete for the Eastern Michigan University forensics team. As a result, I meet people from all over the country who share a love for interpretation, critical analysis and communication in general. However, I was caught off guard when a woman I met from Illinois State University gave a speech in which she proudly declared that she was “Greek,” that is, she is in a sorority.
I was surprised only because I am continually impressed at the wealth of diversity that occurs within Greek communities. An exposure to an incredibly diverse range of people is only one of a multiplicity of benefits offered to individuals by the Greek community.
In my Sept. 5, 2011 article, I delineated the tremendous advantages Greek communities offer to universities. As a reminder, I wrote that, “the University of Missouri-Kansas City reports on their website, Greeks’ average collegiate graduation rate is 71 percent compared to the non-Greeks’ 50 percent, Greeks log over ten million hours of community service annually and their collective average Greek GPA is higher than their non-Greek counterparts.”
However, what remains uncovered is the tremendous impact going Greek can have on the individual’s collegiate experience.
Adam Watson, a sophomore at EMU and active brother in Tau Kappa Epsilon, explained why he went Greek.
“Originally I did it to make friends since I was a commuter,” Watson said. “Then when it got closer to actually joining, I stayed because not only did I like everyone in the chapter, but I really like being judged for personal worth and character.”
Undoubtedly, the Greek experience has the potential to dramatically smooth the transition from awkward high school teen to mature collegiate student. After all, even Evan Mann, a junior at EMU who is not Greek notes: “What I’ve noticed about the Greek system is that it really lets individuals network and form long lasting friendships. I mean, if I had the time to commit to something like a Greek organization, I would most certainly consider joining.”
Relationships are the foundation of the individual experience at any college. After all, being comfortable in an environment almost guarantees people will be productive there.
According to their “Frequently Asked Questions” on its website, Clemson University opines in regard to sororities and fraternities: “For many members, these chapters become a home away from home. In addition to the brother/sisterhood, every chapter is dedicated to enhancing leadership, scholarship, philanthropy/service and financial responsibility through various programs, services and opportunities. It will be up to your student to determine the level of involvement they want to have in the organization and what kind of experience it will be for them.”
Junior at EMU and proud sister of Delta Zeta, Cait Orlando echoes this sentiment in a more personal fashion.
“It’s [Greek Life] made me grow as a person, teaching me the importance of leadership skills and how to make myself a better woman,” Orlando said. “I have learned what I truly value in life, and I could not ask for a better group of people to be associated with.”
If one ever considers joining a Greek organization or simply questions why they joined one, I hope they take into account how it maximizes the collegiate years. These communities create more fulfilled, well-rounded people, and I believe this is the broadest mission of Greek organizations, but it gets lost behind the letters and stereotypes.
I continually run into people who are or once were active Greeks. I have to smile when I reflect on the enthusiasm that blazes behind their eyes. Ultimately, the Greek community offers phenomenal benefits to universities, holistically. We must not forget, however, it is the individual experience that breeds life-long memories and drives those achievements in the first place.
For more info of Greek organizations at EMU go to http://emich.edu/campuslife/greek-life.