The University of Montevallo’s Greek organizations pose for a group photo in front of main hall. Photo Courtesy of University Marketing and Communications
A new school year has approached and so has the opportunity for college students to become a part of a fraternity or sorority. There are no doubts about why Greek life is appealing. Whether someone is contemplating recruitment, or is just curious about what’s behind the curtain, there are positive and negative attributes in going Greek and there are a few things to know.
Pro: Social networking/community
Becoming a Greek comes with a ready-made social network. Not only does being a part of Greek life allow the opportunity for brother or sisterhood, it also includes a support group and study partners. The feeling of belonging can also influence physical and mental health.
“Making friends can be hard and I’m not embarrassed to have needed a bit of a leg up. Having a community makes life so much better,” said Hannah Irvin, junior Chi Omega member.
Con: Social limitations
However, on the flip side to having an expansive social network, Greek organizations are exclusive by nature. Once in a sorority or fraternity, students may limit their connections to solely their brothers or sisters, especially when Greeks occupy a large portion of the student population.
“You get drawn into a bubble in which you don’t interact with many people outside Greek life,” said Solomon Balaam-Reed, junior Phi Gamma Delta member.
Much of the time spent together is due to all the work that has to be done and events they attend. Though some Greeks do choose to interact with their brothers or sisters, many are still sociable outside of their organization as well.
Pro: Focus on philanthropy
One of the better kept secrets of Greek life is how much good they do. Service is a pillar of the Greek system and members contribute many hours of work to raise funds for humanitarian efforts.
“I think Montevallo has Greek unity figured out. We all care about our philanthropies and want each other to succeed in supporting them,” said Irvin. “I love how everyone pitches in to help out. You really get to see the selfless side of everyone when it’s philanthropy time.”
While Greeks’ service may go under the radar, it’s no secret that going Greek is expensive. Cost may vary from organization to the next, but the sum usually includes local and national dues and even insurance. Calculating the cost of membership and looking at the cost breakdown is just as important when considering other factors.
With the cost of money, Greeks also spend a lot of time with their given organization. “It takes up a good chunk of my time,” said Caitlin Blackburn, sophomore Alpha Delta Pi member. “Going to philanthropies, chapter meetings, etcetera, is a lot.”
Weekly meetings and various events on top of school and work could be difficult for some, though it can help improve time management skills.
With fraternal communities having a well-defined structure, it can offer opportunities for students to develop administrative and leadership skills. Councils that govern the Greek organizations typically consist of a president and treasurer, while leadership may consist of event planning or outreach. Though not everybody gets the opportunity to lead in those types of capacities, members are taught loyalty and cooperation within the organization and with others.
The connection between Greeks isn’t lost after four years however. It can be beneficial when searching for employment or recommendations. Finding a job after graduating can be challenging and this type of network is essential for starting a career. So, while some may take time after college to make connections, Greeks are one step ahead.
Con: Potential for Substance Abuse and Hazing
Greek life’s negative image on a national level in the media exists for a reason. Far too often, at other universities Greek life fosters a culture of alcohol and drug abuse.
Students may also have concerns about hazing if they joined Greek life. While hazing is forbidden, hazing may not even appear to be hazing. Simply put, hazing is someone submitting to physical, emotional, and/or psychological manipulation in the name of any organization.
However, it is important to understand the culture of the organization and campus itself. The state and UM have in place strict anti-hazing policies outlining possible consequences, including criminal liability, even if an organization itself does not.
“Greek Life at the University of Montevallo is very different from the stereotypes that students see in the media. Our Greek experience is for everyone, and it is family oriented. We have policies in place to make sure students have a good, safe experience, and any reported violations of those policies are investigated by our Student Conduct Office,” said Jenny Bell, the director of student life, the department that oversees Greek life, at UM.
With eight sororities and six fraternities, the University of Montevallo has a total of 14 Greek organizations. Becoming part of a fraternity or sorority can make college an unforgettable experience. However, it isn’t for everybody. Whether or not people join Greek life, they will learn about themselves and that’s why, in the end, we go to college.