Sarah Gwin, "Is Going Greek Worth It?" FSView & Florida Flambeau, vol. 15, August 21, 2006, p.24. Copyright © 2006 by FSView & Florida Flambeau. All rights reserved. Reproduced by permission.
"'Joining the Greek system gives you a chance to join up and associate with like-minded individuals, which enriches your total college experience.'"
Sarah Gwin graduated from Florida State University in 2009, where she was a staff writer for the FSView & Florida Flambeau, an independent campus newspaper that is distributed all over the city of Tallahassee. The following viewpoint ran in the first issue of the school year, during the recruitment period for new fraternity and sorority members. Gwin interviews men and women who have already joined Greek organizations about their experiences, and she presents a positive picture of the potential benefits of membership, from taking on leadership roles to giving back to the community to always having a set of close friends.
As you read, consider the following questions:
- How much money and time does Gwin say fraternities and sororities at Florida State University donated to charities during a recent year?
- What is the Order of Omega, and what does it demonstrate, according to Gwin?
- According to Gwin, what percentage of the students at Florida State University are members of a fraternity or sorority?
With so many students attending Florida State [University, FSU], it is hard to find somewhere to fit in. Many students pick the path of going Greek to find their place. There are 20 Interfraternity Council [IFC] men fraternities and 15 Panhellenic Association women sororities that are recognized by FSU. There are also nine National Pan-Hellenic Council fraternities and sororities which are predominantly African American and seven Multicultural Greek Council fraternities and sororities.
Fall is a busy time for sororities and fraternities to gain new members. Panhellenic recruitment started Aug. 20 , and IFC rush begins Sept. 11. Pledging is a huge choice for college students to make. It does have some financial obligations and there are many meetings and events to attend. Is going Greek worth all that time and money? Many students think that it is.
"Being a Greek is not cheap and it does take up a lot of my time," FSU senior Sjanna Henderson said. "I have to have a job to help pay for my sorority. But, without Kappa I would not have survived college. I found a place where I belong in FSU, a home with my sisters."
Opportunities for Growth
Joining a frat or a sorority provides college students with many benefits such as leadership opportunities. There are over 400 leadership positions in the Greek community alone.
"As a result of participating in recruitment I made a family of friends. Being Greek was one of my best decisions; it has allowed me to grow as a person and as a leader," external VP of the Greek Activities Council and FSU senior Lindsay Opsah said. "When I went through recruitment, I was looking for a place to lead and be led—I definitely found that in my sisters. I feel that ADPi [Alpha Delta Pi] has been a major factor in my growth into adulthood. Even if you don't pledge, recruitment is a way to meet people and see what being Greek is all about."
It is difficult to meet new people by just going to class or randomly saying hello to a nice-looking person. Going through rush and recruitment helps students to make friends more easily.
"I actually went through rush to meet new people and it was probably the best decision of my life," FSU junior Nikki Stewart said. "Being in Zeta has allowed me to meet an amazing group of girls and give back to my community through our philanthropy. The statement I came to college to find my bridesmaid is so true because these girls will forever be a part of my life. They have allowed me to find my niche at FSU and have accepted me for who I am."
In addition, sororities and fraternities take pride in how they help others. The entire Greek community at FSU raised and donated over $100,000 and 30,000 service hours to charities over the past academic year.
A Rich Social Life
Being in a frat or a sorority also leaves little time for boredom. There are many activities for Greeks and they are encouraged to join other clubs.
"What I like about being in a frat is that you always have something to do, whether it's socials, formals, meetings, intramural sports, philanthropies, etc.," FSU senior and Fiji member John Kruszewski said. "Once you are in Greek life it is also a lot easier to get involved around campus."
Academic success is also very important to Greeks. Each organization requires a minimum grade point average to remain an active member of the chapter. The Greek community even created the Order of Omega, its own honorary group, to recognize the scholastic achievements of Greek men and women.
Building a Larger Greek Community
However, even with all the good things about Greek life, no organization is without problems. The Greek community is still struggling to be the best it can be.
"As nervous and ignorant as I was when rushing I have always had good feelings and high expectations for the Greek community here at Florida State," FSU president of Phi Kappa Psi and junior Leeroy Habern said. "We have so much potential to be one of the greatest in the nation. However, it seems as if we're constantly fighting each other; which has been holding everyone back. While the Greek life at other campuses are struggling to become more unified and stronger, I feel as if Florida State is running in circles with our own individual struggles to create a distinctive separation from each fraternity/sorority. I truly feel that all of our chapters here are full of some of the finest men and women in the nation and I am proud to be a part of that. However, no progress will ever be made until we realize that having a few good chapters is nothing compared to having an amazing Greek community."
Benefits Outweigh Drawbacks
However, with all the benefits the Greek life provides, it is not for everyone. Many students are not willing to spend money and their time to be Greek.
"I guess the reason I didn't rush, is that anytime I thought of a fraternity, it made me think of things I would be giving up, and simple economics tells me to take the better deal; when I could be at the smelly, dirty, sticky, frat house, I'd rather be at home, spending time with my girl," FSU senior Houston Spear said. "Don't get me wrong, I love Greek life, and I think that everyone should try it at least once, who knows, you might just fall in love with the experience."
Going Greek has its downfalls but it also has many advantages. It is a big decision and commitment for a student to decide to pledge. The 14 percent of the full-time undergraduate population of FSU students that have chosen the Greek way of life believe that the choice they made is worth it.
"Going Greek is the best decision I've made aside from becoming a Seminole," FSU junior and Sigma Chi member Alexander Monroe Regar said. "I went through rush because I was tired of passing around the hat for money for parties, and I was tired of going to random house parties and hanging out with people I didn't really have anything in common with. Joining the Greek system gives you a chance to join up and associate with like-minded individuals, which enriches your total college experience."