The Role of Sororities/Fraternities in American College Life
Being a member of greek life on campus has benefits, including leadership, scholarship, involvement in philanthropy/community service events and the social aspect.
By Vicky Saperstein, Marist College
When I mentioned the word “sorority” to my London co-workers, I got blank stares and confused faces. Here I was in London, trying to explain what a sorority meant from an American’s perspective. In general, college life and the overall college culture is different abroad so mentioning the words “Greek life” or “Kappa Kappa Gamma” was a new concept to my co-workers. After spending a good amount of time explaining what Greek life was, they began to understand. This being said, Greek life does not exist abroad and it is truly unique to the American College life.
Being a member of Greek life on campus has benefits, including leadership, scholarship, involvement in philanthropy/ community service events and the social aspect. There are tons of opportunities to become a leader in a sorority or fraternity. Each chapter holds elections for various leadership positions, which looks great on a resume. Being a leader can be useful in future careers because it builds organizational, budgeting, socializing, accountability, public speaking, and time management skills.
At my college, a person must maintain a certain GPA to join and remain a member. This encourages good grades and there are tons of resources available to members, including support and scholarship. Most Greek organizations hold programs to support academic excellence, including mentor/mentee programs, study hall hours and educational incentives to meet or exceed their academic goals/standards. In fact, graduation rates are 20% higher in comparison to non-Greeks. In my sorority, there are certificates given out each semester, a “no skippy” jar and trivia questions asked in each meeting. All of these activities make excelling in classes even more exciting because I am rewarded for not skipping class or answering a trivia question correctly with an awesome prize and support from my sisters. In addition, I am motivated to do well in classes to represent my sorority in the best way possible.
As I mentioned, another role sororities/ fraternity’s play on campuses throughout America is philanthropy/ community service events. Each organization sponsors a specific charity or community-service/fundraising event. In addition, many organizations help out local charities. As a team, Greek organizations build awareness for a charitiy they are passionate about. I am currently a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma at Marist College and I hold the position of Panhellenic Chair. For those who don’t know what this means, I am the liaison of communication between the Greek Council, which is composed of all the Panhellenic Chairs of the other organizations and my chapter. We discuss working together in community service events and strengthening the overall Greek life on campus. Each year, all organizations participate in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. It is awesome to see members of all organizations come together to support an amazing cause. At the end of the day, it feels good to give back to the community and being part of a team.
All of this builds on the relationships between the members. The last benefit and to me, the most awarding one is the social aspect of being a part of a Greek organization. I have a strong family like bond with my sisters and joining a sorority was one of the best decisions I made at Marist. I have the most amazing support group and have met my best friends through it. I know that these girls will be my friends for years and years after graduation. I also know that if I have any issue going on in my life, I have girls to support me and will be there for me with support, as well as understanding. I can be my goofy self and never get judged for my actions. In addition, I have met people from all over the country in different countries abroad! For example, I was on a trip to Prague last semester and I met 5 girls who were in Kappa Kappa Gamma. I saw their letters and went up to them with excitement that we were sisters. It is a small world and being a part of Greek life creates instant connections with people from all over the country.
Greek life is present in American college life and with it comes opportunities for leadership, scholarship and community service, as well as ever-lasting friendships. The benefits of joining sororities/ fraternities are strong but I am aware that it’s not for everyone. My advice for all my readers is to find a group of people who will bring out the best in you and appreciate you for you. This may or may not be a sorority or fraternity; it could be photography club or even fencing club. Whatever it is, do what feels right and enjoy the best four years of your life!