Greek Life: It’s not what you think

Giving Greek Life a chance


Jeff Helsel

The men of California University of Pennsylvania wear high-heeled pumps and make their way around campus as they participate in the annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event, organized by the End Violence Center, to raise awareness and demonstrate support for victims of sexual violence, relationship violence and stalking. All proceeds from this walk benefit Domestic Violence Services of Southwestern Pennsylvania. May 2, 2017.

Angel Hart Funk, Opinion Editor

udents in Greek life are raging alcoholics that are more focused on hazing “pledges” then their grades. Many of those misconceptions followed me to college just like many students entering the University. 

I never intended to join a sorority and fell into the category of people that would “never, ever join.” As an incoming freshman, I saw the matching outfits and recruitment videos as a superficial way of marketing friendship. 

In many ways it is, nothing about those things teaches anyone what being apart of a Greek organization. With the unfortunate events that have and were transpiring at other universities at the time in which I ultimately became a member of my organization, getting to know a sorority was not the agenda. 

Whenever I walked into a recruitment party as an ineligible first-semester freshman, dragged by my friend eager to join, I had no idea what to expect. Clearly disinterested, I was approached by a group of women who just wanted to get to know me over hot dogs. 

A casual conversation turned into getting to know these girls, it felt like close friends who were catching up rather than strangers who had just met an hour before. As my friend was ready to leave, I felt a strange sense of sadness. 

Joining for me didn’t come down to that I needed friends or status, but I knew that I wanted to be a part of something bigger. I wanted to make the most of my time in college by pushing myself out of my comfort zone and try something new. 

As collective Greek students have to work harder than the average student. By being apart of our organizations, we work for excellence as students, leaders, and members of our communities. 

On the outside looking it, it’s easy to say that sororities and fraternities pay for their friends or have no purpose. To members of fraternities and sororities, the countless hours of dedication to service, education, and maintaining a higher standard of living is the reality. 

According to the North-America Interfraternity Conference, 20.3 million dollars were raised by IFC fraternities in 2013-2014. While the National Panhellenic Conference stated in a press release that during the 2014-2015 school year 34.8 million dollars were donated from sororities. 

This money goes towards the philanthropy that differs from the organization. On campus, our chapters are affiliated with causes such as St. Jude which was founded by a Tau Kappa Episolon alumni, Habitat for Humanity, the Special Olympics, Starkey Hearing Foundation, and more.

NPC also reported that over 2.9 million hours of service were conducted by the 26 organizations affiliated during the 2014-2015 school year and IFC reported 3.8 million hours during the 2013-2014 cycle. 

While Statistics on the National Pan-Hellenic Council could not be found, the CalU chapters of Alpha Kappa Alpha and Kappa Alpha Psi participate in community services events like the Big Event. 

There is no denying that Greek life can be improved upon, that is why every semester Greeks on campus attend workshops that touch on topics like inclusivity, sexual assault, and alcohol awareness. These programs are in addition the educational efforts by the individual national organizations. 

For many, the idea of diversity and inclusion are not words that are typically associated with the IFC and NPC Greek community because historically they have not been. As Greek life has grown, the policies have too. My sorority and others have specifically changed its policies to promote inclusivity for transgender women. 

CalU’s Greek life advisor, Joy Helsel works hard to bring new and exciting opportunities to our campus to help improve us as students as well as members of our organizations. Helsel also makes sure that our school adheres and follows all guidelines.

More than anything, we as Greeks are a community. Whether we are working together on philanthropy, attending each other events, or just spending time with each. Our bonds to brothers and sisters are more than just friendship. We are tied together by a history of men and women dedicated to bettering the world around us. 

I am a sister of Alpha Sigma Tau, I’m a leader in and out of my sorority, I have and will never haze anyone, and I believe in the future of Greek life.