Rush week. Bid day. Big and Little. These were terms at the beginning of the summer that I had little to no familiarity with. Sigma Chi, Delta Phi Epsilon, Phi Sigma Sigma, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Zeta Tau Alpha were some of the fraternities and sororities that I knew appeared on campus, but yet I knew so little about.
Over the summer, I studied abroad with a wonderful young woman who is a sister of Delta Phi Epsilon and a respectable, motivated young man in Sigma Phi Epsilon. Before the trip, neither of us really knew each other, it was more or less the kind of relationship where you see the person’s face, know their name, and that is the extent of it. Returning from the trip, we are like family.
When these two individuals found out that the other was in their brother/sister fraternity and sorority, there was an instantaneous bond. Not really knowing anything else about each other, they both just, for a lack of better words, clicked. It was amazing to hang around the two of them and see how well they got along and how close they seemed, simply because they both found out that the other was involved in Greek Life. Before meeting them, I knew little about Greek Life. After seeing how they acted and instantly respected and connected with one another, I decided to investigate Greek Life myself.
After spending time with them, I learned that Greek Life is not what I expected it to be: it is so much more. The typical stereotype that Greeks are nothing but stuck up people who value fake friends and keg parties, is so utterly and profoundly wrong.
Just the other night, I was talking to a friend about how I was participating in Rush Week and trying to make connections with some sisters and she looks at me and says, “Kayla, no! You are so much better than that.” I was not only personally offended, but shocked at how ignorant she seemed toward Greek life. She continued to explain how she has “lost” friends when they joined a sorority. To this I say: bull crap.
I have personally asked many men and women in Greek life and they all say the same thing: their brothers and sisters are family. The bond between the men and women within their own fraternity or sorority and even other Greeks on campus is a bond not found anywhere else. The passion for their philanthropy, community service, schooling and bettering themselves as not only students but individuals is beyond comparable.
There is a type of underlining connection between each fraternity/sorority member and their letters, a type of respect that reaches past the limitations of life after college. A relationship like this surpasses any subtle college friendship because when established, it truly never ends.
But joining Greek Life isn’t just about gaining 28 sisters for life, or even being able to wear the letters. It’s also about the philanthropy, individuality, who you are and who you can become once you get involved.
There is a specific sorority on campus whose philanthropy is Anorexia Nersovia and Associated Disorders, or ANAD, that I personally clicked with more than just on a community level. ANAD’s mission to promote healthy body image and help those fighting eating disorders mirrors a passion that I have shared and fought for myself throughout my high school and college years. To be able to belong to a sisterhood who shares the same passion, who could help and support me as I continue to fight the battle against eating disorders and body shaming, would be dream a come true.
All in all: As a senior in college, I regret just now truly investigating Greek Life and discovering how much I admire it, how much I would love to get involved. I always thought that I would be too busy, that the girls wouldn’t like me, and that I would not fit in. Now, I realize how wrong I was. The girls I have met are not only accepting of you, but welcoming; the kind of welcoming that makes you truly feel wanted there. Greek Life is not about paying for your friends or partying 24/7. It’s about making connections, gaining many brothers and sisters, finding your place and most of all bettering yourself and becoming the best student, community member and best version of you that you can be. Don’t judge Greek Life based on the movies and stories that you see or hear. Investigate for yourself, ask questions, meet some sisters and brothers, see if you actually click with a group and have a passion for what they do. I so hope that at the end of Rush Week, I receive a bid from the sorority that I wish to join, but even if I don’t, I will continue to participate in their events and continue to share in their passion and collaboration with ANAD.
One thing is certain: If I could rewind and join as a freshman, I would in heartbeat.
(Kayla Handy is a Clarion University student contributor to VenangoExtra.com & ClarionExtra.com. Email Kayla at firstname.lastname@example.org.)