“Florida Fraternity Sued Over Intimate Videos Shared on Facebook”, “15 Syracuse Students Suspended Over Fraternity Videos That Ignited Campus Protests”, “Colleges and State Laws Clamping Down on Fraternities” (NY Times). All of these were headlines from the NY Times in the past year. Though these are only a few examples, almost every headline about sororities and fraternities sheds a very negative light. There are very few stories out there about the great experience members of Greek organizations have, the amazing relationships formed, or the skills that these members gain over their years in Greek life. There are over 9 million Greek members nationally across the United States (NJIT). These members do over 850,000 hours of volunteer work annually, however, there are never national articles written about this fact (NJIT). Although there are very tragic incidents that occur with Greek organization members, these do not tell the whole story, they are only a very small part of being in a Greek organization that the vast majority of members never experience. The majority of members who are a part of Greek Organizations say that being apart of their organization played a key role in their life and has changed them as people.
Here at SUNY Oswego there are 13 fraternities and 10 sororities (SUNY Oswego Website). Members of these organizations share experience and build lifelong relationships with the other members of their organizations. Each and every member of the Greek organizations here at Oswego has been changed in some way by being a part of our Greek community. Over the course of the past few weeks I have reached out to several SUNY Oswego students who are involved in a Greek organizations to ask about their experiences with Greek life and how it has changed them. I asked each person a series of three questions, the first being how has Greek life changed you as a person? The second question was what leadership skills has being in Greek life given to you? The third was what positive impact has Greek life had on your life? Each person I interviewed had a unique experience with Greek life and a variety of things that their organization has brought to them. When asked the question how has Greek life changed you, senior Keri O’Brien of Delta Phi Epsilon answered with; “Greek life has changed me as a person by making me more confident and happy with myself. I now have so many friends and people that lift me up and make me comfortable in my own skin.” Being a part of a Greek organization gives you a group of people who you can always count on and always know are there for you, and help you have the confidence in yourself to do anything you set your mind too. Sophomore Rianne Hoffman of Sigma Delta Tau also shared this opinion, her answer to how Greek life has changed her was, and “Greek life has made me a much more confident and personable individual. It has allowed me to make connections with people involved and not involved in Greek life.” Samantha Basset, a sophomore of Phi Sigma Sigma, shared that “Greek life has changed me as a person because it has given me courage to put myself out there and step out of my comfort zone. It has helped me be more outgoing in my job, the classroom, and my social life.” The life skills and over all experience of being in a Greek organization effects who you are as a person overall and effects every aspect of your life, and changes you for the better.
Greek life also has a huge impact on leadership skills and development. When asked what leadership skills has being in Greek life given you, senior Nick Derbabian of Sigma Tau Chi said, “The biggest piece from Greek life has been my leadership development. I had the privilege to be my chapter President for two years. The sense of accomplishment and recognition from so many people, I know that I did a good job and am going to use the skills I learned in my future job.” The leadership skills learned from Greek life carry over into all aspects, senior Michael Urban of Zeta Beta Tau also agreed, he said, “For leadership skills that I’ve learned from being Greek life, I would have to say the two major ones are being professional and being able to speak in front of a group of people.” Senior Keri O’Brian, stated, “Greek life has made me a more friendly, outgoing, and confident leader. From all of the interactions and positions I’ve held, I have learned how to deal with multiple different individuals from various backgrounds, ages, and areas. Holding leadership positions within my own chapter, nationally, and for Greek Council I’ve learned a lot about time management and planning ahead. Being in leadership positions within our community has given me the ability to practice and use the skills that I have learned about in classes. Being in Greek life pushes you to your full potential.” Being given real life opportunities to practice leadership skills is one of the unique opportunities that Greek life gives its members.
The final question posed to the interviewees was what positive impact has Greek life had on your life. Michael Civisca, a senior of Delta Sigma Phi, says “Greek life has had nothing but a positive impact on my life. I had nothing but amazing memories, Greek life has equipped me with a numerous amount of valuable skills that will help me further my success in the future.” One thing that was stressed by almost every person I interviewed was that Greek life brought them not only life long friendships but also relationships that will help them in the future. Senior Nick Derbabian says, “Relationships. I can’t even imagine my life without this community. I didn’t think this is how my college career was going to go but I’m so thankful that I decided to join an organization. Being Greek is now a part of me, and I have the ability to carry that out forever.” Keri O’Brien also shared how her relationships with other Greek organization members have helped her further her career, she says, “I actually gained an internship this past summer from an alumni from my chapter (my big sister actually). From Greek life I have gained so many professional contacts and network connections. As a result of networking with alumni, I am more likely to be hired right after graduation.”
Being apart of something bigger than yourself, representing a larger, in some cases nation wide, community gives you a greater responsibility to make those other members of your organization and your Greek community proud to have you in their mix. Being a member of a Greek organization gives you skills that carry over into classes, jobs, and every other aspect of your life. After completing these interviews, and based on personal experience, I can safely say that Greek life changes you, in almost every aspect of your life.
SUNY Oswego Website – https://www.oswego.edu/point/fraternity-and-sorority-life