(University of Michigan Chi Phi Fraternity raised over $4000 for philantropic purposes during the 2016-17 academic year. Spring Thaw BBall event pictured above.)
University Greeks may not be Authentic Greeks but there is a lot of good going on within the Greek Life system.
It seems the news is always covering stories about Greek life. Unfortunately, those stories seem to conjure a negative image of fraternities and sororities without portraying the positive influences on members, schools and the local communities.
No doubt there are isolated incidents of hazing, but these do not accurately represent the Greek system as a whole.
To better explain what going Greek is all about, here's a list of the 10 things the media doesn't report about Greek life:
1. Hazing doesn’t define Greek Life.
Although many of us heard about hazing incidents on numerous college campuses, it is not something every Greek does. Many people don't realize each school has its own specific chapter of an organization. So, if Phi whatever decides to haze pledges, it doesn't mean it's something the organization as a whole supports. As they say, “the acts of one do not justify the acts of others.”
2. …In fact, most schools don’t tolerate it.
There is absolutely no school that actively supports the abuse of students. When hazing is committed, it's because of certain individuals who joined their organizations for the wrong reasons. True Greeks become brothers or sisters to enhance their senses of leadership, join a family and be inspired so they can inspire others.
3. Greeks are usually known for having some of the highest GPAs on campus.
Everyone loves to talk about Greek parties, but not Greek grades. Schools from around the nation have reported that the all-Greek average GPA is higher than the average undergraduate GPA. Total Frat Move, a popular site for fraternity men, reported that out of 227 campuses that reported data to the North-American Interfraternity Conference for the 2012-2013 academic year, 117 fraternities had an average GPA higher than their campus' all-male average GPA.
4. Greek life donates millions of dollars annually to philanthropies.
According to the National Panhellenic Council's annual report for 2013-2014, Greek life chapters raised more than $5.5 million for philanthropies. The North American Interfraternity Conference also reports that more than $20.3 million was raised in 2013-2014 for philanthropies. So, whoever said Greek life is all about paying for friends clearly didn't do a damn bit of research.
5. Going Greek is gaining a support system.
Once you become a new member, active members and alum of your fraternity/sorority are there for you, no matter what. It is definitely true that you won't be best friends with every single brother or sister, but that doesn't change the fact that you're family. And, just like in any family, the members are there for you, no matter what. Through the bad grades, crazy nights out, relationship issues or personal problems, they are always there to pick you up with a pep talk, quart of ice cream or big ol' bear hug.
6. Some of the most famous leaders were in Greek life.
According to USA Today, 85 percent of Fortune 500 executives were actively involved in Greek Life. Not only that, but almost every single US president and vice president was actively involved in his or her Greek organizations in college. For all the women out there, the first female senator and first female astronaut were sorority women. Inspiration is found within all aspects of the Greek system, no matter who you are, where you come from or where you want to go. Bottom line: Greeks aim to be great. If you ain't first, you're last, and failure is never an option.
7. Greeks are less likely to suffer from insecurities and depression.
More than 25 percent of college students suffer from some kind of mental illness, including depression. By having a 24/7 support system, members have a much higher chance of overcoming mental and emotional issues they face. Brotherhood and sisterhood is about the good and the bad, and that's one of the greatest feelings you get once you become a member.
8. Being a brother/sister teaches the importance of values.
Every Greek organization has different values founding members created. In general, the values include leadership, service, respect for oneself and others and scholarship. The organization is all about holding everyone accountable to not only meet the goals of the sorority or fraternity, but to exceed personal goals to be the best person you can be.
9. Greek life is not perfect, but neither is anything else in life.
As amazing as Greek life is, it's not perfect. There are problems within executive boards, disagreements about policies and conflicts between different organizations, but the love members have for their chapters never falters. The issues that occur within an organization are what build character and make chapters stronger in the end. The saying, “What doesn't kill you makes you stronger,” holds true and Greek men and women are some of the strongest people I know.
10. Brotherhood and sisterhood teach acceptance and respect.
People come from various backgrounds, homes, religions, etc. The wonderful thing about the Greek system is that it's a place where race doesn't matter, pasts become non-existent, sexual orientation is just a fact and the only thing that matters is how you will contribute to the future. Discrimination is not tolerated in any Greek organization.
Although news reports suggest otherwise, fraternities and sororities were founded on the basis of overcoming persecution and promoting self-worth and leadership. Reports of hazing and discriminatory actions involve people who joined the system thinking it would be a real-life version of “American Pie” or “Animal House” instead of “Full House” or “Friends.”
A wise friend once told me,
“the acts of some do not define the acts of all.”
TV reports only show the negatives, but what isn't shown are all the benefits of Greek life that members carry past their undergraduate years.
Being actively involved in a chapter is an incredible experience that teaches respect, directs passion, demonstrates values and helps people learn to better themselves and others. The person you become during your college years is dependent upon who you spend your time with, what you do and what you learn from it.
Going Greek is not just an extracurricular activity; it is a chance to become the person you've always wanted to be.