The Alpha, Beta, Gammas of Going Greek

Going Greek

By Valerie Willis

Wondering if there’s more to Greek life than booze, boob jobs and bulimia? If you’re considering whether or not to go Greek, blow off the stereotypes and find the facts. Look to the alphabet for the ABC’s of going Greek.

Alpha. Academics. Many people believe academics fall somewhere below shopping for hair products and the Beer Pong National Championship in Greek houses, but in most (if not all) Greek communities, academics come first. Every house has a minimum grade point average that members must achieve in order to remain in good standing. Most require study hours and reward good grades, encouraging members to make academics a first priority.

Beta. Beer! Just kidding. Beta is for Banishing Boredom. There is always something going on in the Greek community. Be it intramural sports, campus-wide awareness weeks, tailgates, charity events or parties, Greek life will keep you on your toes.

Gamma. Great memories. Gag! I know, but memorable events abound when you live in a house with a bunch of your close friends. ‘Member that one time when…

Delta. Diversity. Although Greek houses are often painted as homogenized sects of college societies, fraternities and sororities actually consist of individuals from an array of interests and backgrounds. As part of a Greek organization, you’ll become friends with people who are very different and yet united with a common bond.

Epsilon. Encouragement. Need a pick-me-up, a pat on the back or a high five? 

Zeta. Zero tolerance for hazing. After decades of perturbed pledges, all national Greek letter organizations now prohibit hazing and have severe punishments for any chapter not abiding by these rules. Before you join a house, make sure they take the zero tolerance policy seriously so you don’t find yourself atop a roof ledge with a cinder block tied to your penis.

Eta. Housing. Many Greek chapters have physical houses on campus where members can live. This is a great way to stay on or close to campus without having to live in a dorm, and a lot of houses provide meals as well so you can put off cooking for yourself even longer. There is always someone around if you want company, and when else will you be able to live with 20 to 100 of your closest friends without people thinking you’re in a creepy commune?

Theta. Time. Being in a sorority or fraternity does take a significant amount of time, especially during the first year. There are often mandatory pledge meetings and initiation activities, so you will need to learn to manage your time in order to stay on top of your schoolwork and remain involved in other extracurriculars.

Iota. Involvement on campus. Getting involved on campus is easy with in-the-know older members to show you the ropes. Just pick a cause or group that interests you and talk to your new brothers or sisters about the best way to join. Greek houses often get involved with campus-wide activities as a group, so you’ll have an automatic in with campus community activities like homecoming, welcome weeks, campus productions and more.

Kappa. Khaki and polos are not required.

Lambda. Leadership. Sororities and fraternities have large executive boards with officers that rotate once or twice a year. This provides ample opportunities for leadership positions that not only mold and govern the chapter, but also look great on resumes after college.

Mu. Moolah. Joining a house can be expensive. Initiation fees, membership dues and chapter fees for social functions will cost a hefty chunk of change. However, most chapters are willing to help out those who are unable to pay dues and also offer scholarships to members needing tuition assistance.

Nu. Networking. Greek houses are like gigantic webs that connect college kids with professionals in hundreds of fields. Greek alumni associations are a great resource to use when job or internship searching because graduates are usually happy to help a sister or brother out.

Xi. X-pledge. If you join a house and hate it, you can always quit. It’s frowned upon, but fraternities and sororities understand if you have a genuine reason for dropping out.

Omicron. Om. Need a yoga buddy? Someone to walk with you to class or accompany you to a movie? With a houseful of brothers or sisters you’ll never have to go anywhere alone.

Pi. Parties. Yes sororities and fraternities host parties, no they’re not (always) like the frat parties you see in movies.

Rho. Reputation. It is important to consider the reputation of each Greek house before you pick one, but don’t rule a house out based on its stereotype. Meet the members and then decide if it is where you belong.

Sigma. Support System. I know it sounds sappy, but frats and sororities offer great support systems for their members. If you want to run for student body president, your house will help you campaign. If you start a club, your sisters will join. If you get in a bar fight, your brothers will (hopefully) get your back.

Tau. Test files and tutors. Because academics should always come first, many houses have created files of old study guides and tests to study with. Some fraternities and sororities will even pay for tutors if members need help in classes.

Upsilon. Umpteen t-shirts. If you decide to join a Greek house you can expect to graduate with enough themed t-shirts to clothe the entire population of Wyoming.

Phi. Philanthropy. Every national Greek organization has a philanthropy that they support and campus chapters often have local charities they give to as well. Causes can range from cleaning up highways to raising funds for children’s hospitals, and they give members an opportunity to be involved in their communities.

Chi. Cheap rent. Living in Greek houses on campus is often cheaper than living in dorms or off-campus apartments, and meals are usually included.

Psi. Size matters. Individual chapters can range from less than ten members to almost 300 depending on the university. A smaller house will allow you to know every member personally and it will be easier to play a large role within the chapter. A house with more members will contain a more diverse group of people, have a significant presence on campus and will host bigger social functions more often.

Omega. Overwhelmed? Check out the houses during recruitment or “rush” and see if Greek life is for U-psilon.