The truth about fraternity and sorority life

Almost every kind of group can be stereotyped in some way, so it’s not a surprise that Greek life has a label on it.

If students say that they are in a sorority or fraternity, most people think of them getting drunk every weekend at a fraternity house.  But Greek life has so much more to it than society and Hollywood have made it out to look like.

It’s not just parties, booze and hazing, as many films have portrayed it to be.  Although many see it this way, those who are in Greek life at Gannon University believe that it needs to be shown that Greek life is so much more than movies like “Animal House” or “Neighbors” portray it to be.  A strong community exists within all Greek organizations on campus.

The first aspect of Greek life is deciding if you want to put forth your own time.  When asked why why he decided to join Delta Sigma Phi, Nick Roberts’ response was that he felt the need to get involved on campus.

“So the first place I looked to was Greek Life,” he said.  “I looked at all the fraternities so I could make an informed decision and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to join Delta Sigma Phi.  Since I joined, I haven’t looked back.”

To Nicole Greisl, a sophomore physician assistant major, sisterhood means having a group of girls to fall back on when you need to be picked up.

“They will always be there for you and always support you in what you do,” she said.  “They will push you to achieve more, but if you fail they will be the first person there to console you.”

Greisl said she thinks that Greek life on campus adds another aspect of social life that campus clubs cannot offer.

“Anyone can be in a fraternity or sorority so there is always a mix of people in them versus you being in a club for your major,” she said.  “Just about everyone is the same, and with Greek life there’s more diversity.”

Why make the decision to go Greek in the first place?  Everyone has his or her own answer.  Greisl said she decided to join a sorority because she was heavily influenced by an upperclassman whom she looked up to and considered to be a great friend.

“I also never had a sister and now I have 30, which is an amazing feeling,” she said.  “They give me such a good insight on life and other positive aspects.

“I am extremely happy that I went Greek. The memories and friendships I have made are ones that I will keep forever and I haven’t even been in Phi Sig for a year.”

Greek life isn’t for everybody, however.  Some people fear joining Greek life.    One student who asked to remain nameless began pledging in the spring and decided to back out.

“I didn’t feel like I would fit in with them,” he said.  “I didn’t want another obligation.  I also wanted to be able to do my own thing.”

He was one of a few pledges from last spring to quit pledging in the middle of the season.

Jason Frampton, the head of Greek Organizations at Gannon, would disagree, and said that there is a spot for everyone in the Greek community.

“If you want to grow in your leadership skills, we have positions that can do that,” he said.  “If you want to merge what you’re learning academically with some hands-on experiences, we can usually provide that as well. If you want to do hands-on service or plan and execute philanthropy events, we promote and value that as well.

“I won’t lie, there’s an obvious social element to our experience as well, but it’s a lot more than what outsiders may think. It’s really more about the connections we form with our brothers and sisters to provide deep friendships and

support during and after our college years.”

When becoming part of a fraternity or a sorority, it is also important to remember that you are becoming a member of a large family.  Brother and sisterhoods are close-knit groups that become your support system.  When you join, you are never alone.

Greisl also stated that the best part about going Greek is you get the opportunity to find yourself.

“By choosing your fraternity or sorority, you choose the one where you are most comfortable, with the people that you don’t have to pretend to be around,” she said.  “The people in the fraternity or sorority accept you for who you are, which helps you find yourself.”

To Roberts, the best part of Greek life is having an instant connection to someone you’ve never met before.

“I’ve had many personal experiences,” he said.  “Once while at an airport, I was wearing letters and a total stranger came up to me and just starting talking to me.  We shared our stories from our respective chapters and it probably looked to the common person like we’ve been lifetime friends. After about a 20-minute conversation we boarded different planes never to see each other again, but it’s a memory I’ll have forever.”

It goes to show that the connections you can make on campus can even follow you around the world.

To Tyler Powell, a brother of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, the best part of Greek life is definitely the bond the fraternity brothers share.

“Our true brotherhood means going out of your way to help your friend in need,” he said.  “I could call any one of the guys and he would drop whatever he’s doing to help me. Just hanging out and spending time with the brothers is a great way to spend the day.

“At first, I thought it was all about partying, but that was a huge misconception.  It’s all about the tight bond that we share.  If you’re in Greek life, there’s so much more to do than just going to classes.  If you’re an independent student, you have no group of guys to hang out with or have a bond of brothers with.”

There is also another part of Greek life that most outsiders would never think of — volunteering.  Delta Sigma Phi is known for sponsoring a blood drive with the American Red Cross every year.  In addition, the fraternity has an annual date auction to raise money for its national philanthropy American Red Cross and its members are also regular volunteers at the Martin Luther King Center and Association for Needy and Neglected Animal (ANNA) Shelter.

As well as volunteering, academics are a very important part about being a Greek.

“We put a lot of importance on academics,” Greisl said.  “We have library hours that we must complete. Also, we have GPA requirements that must be met if you want to hold certain positions. We also had the second highest GPA out of all of the new member classes last spring.”

Grades are an obvious source of pride to fraternities and sororities.  New member classes of Tau Kappa Epsilon and Phi Sigma Sigma said they were very proud of their grades this past semester, ranking Nos. 1 and 2.

Even though the Hollywood stereotype of Greek life might not be correct, that does not mean that a movie couldn’t be made to show the true Greek life.  Greisl said her  movie would depict Greek life as not as crazy as what Hollywood depicts it as because that’s not real.

“It would probably be like a day in the life as a Greek,” she said.  “Going to chapter, the library and even mixers would be in it. But that’s not very interesting so Hollywood needs to ‘spice’ it up a bit.”

At the end of the day, the typical Greek life member would not be focused on the glamorous and outrageous lifestyle that most people tend to make up in their own minds.  It seems these students are just normal students who happen to be a part of something bigger than themselves, something that brings out the best in them to share with the Gannon and Erie community.

Remember that it’s OK to enjoy Hollywood films, but just don’t assume that’s all Greek Life is.  If you ever want to learn more about Greek life, talk to anyone you know who is part of it.  Wrap your head around all the different aspects from those who are in it, and those who were and decided to say no.

Who knows where you’ll find yourself come next spring?


[email protected]