Being Greek in the United States can present a few problems. Now, I am not referring to individuals whose grandparents, parents or themselves were born in the country of Greece. I am referring to individuals who have chosen to be part of a social fraternity or sorority. There is an extensive list of multicultural fraternities and sororities, honor societies, and major related organizations that also identify themselves through the use of Greek letters, but for the purpose of this discussion, I will focus on social fraternities and sororities. When one sees Greek letters on campus, it is almost always the case that scenes from Hollywood’s glorified representation of Greek life comes to mind. You might have recently watched the movies Neighbors or 21 Jump Street. If you have not had the chance to do so, I encourage you to take a look at scenes of these movies that directly make reference to Greek life on college campuses. If you have watched them, I hope that after reading this, you might have a different view of what being Greek is like.
It is a common perception of those who are not directly involved in Greek life that it consists of partying, socializing, paying for friends and being unwelcoming to those who do not wear Greek letters. I can say those things are what many people think we do, because I am Greek and I have experienced individuals who believe that is what we do. There are many reasons why people have these stereotypical depictions of Greek life. Unfortunately, some choose to embrace that lifestyle you see in movies, but that is not all of us. And that is my main point. One fraternity and their actions should not influence Greek life as a whole. But it does.
It is foolish to believe that one organization alone can change that perception, but it is equally detrimental to Greek life to assume that there are no positive outcomes that come from these organizations. I want to shed some light on some of the positive changes that Fraternities and Sororities can and have been creating in our community. These changes are specifically made through service. In addition to completing service hours, Greek students utilize leadership positions to promote servant leadership.
On a national level, the North American Interfraternity Conference reports that undergraduate fraternities alone have served over $3.8 million hours in their local communities and have raised $20.8 million for their philanthropic causes in 2015. The Fraternity Advisor states that “the Greek system is the largest network of volunteers in the US, with members donating over 10 million hours of volunteer service each year.”
On a local level, our Greek life regularly supports Valley Children’s Hospital by selling papers on Kids Day. Sigma Phi Epsilon raised over $5,000 in 2015 in only a few hours! Delta Zeta sorority raised about $4,500 last year and donated it to Starkey Hearing Foundation with its annual flag football tournament DZ Bowl. The majority of tournament participants are other Greek organizations who make a donation per team to participate. Sigma Chi Fraternity organizes an annual week-long event that raised over $21,000 last year. They indicate they have fundraised over $150,000 in the last 6 years. These are just a few chapters at Fresno State but think about the impact Greek Life in the state of California alone is causing.
Each fraternity and sorority has many leadership positions to get involved in. One of those positions is the community service director, officer…etc. No matter the title, this individual is trusted with being the leader of community service and philanthropic efforts in the organization. In Alpha Sigma Phi, the philanthropy director is tasked with planning, organizing and implementing our own philanthropic event that aims to raise donations and awareness for Homes for Our Troops. The community service directory promotes, facilitates, records and encourages brothers to attend community service events throughout the year.
Sound familiar? Well, in a way the community service director serves as a mini Richter Center Ambassador for the fraternity. Since 2010, four members of Alpha Sigma Phi Fraternity have gone on to serve as Richter Center Ambassadors after having served as community service directors. To wrap things up, please keep in mind Greeks are out there planning, volunteering and fundraising. They are cultivating leaders through service and feeding qualified individuals into service programs like the Richter Center Student Leaders.
What is your current perception of Greek Life?
– Ambassador Juan