I knew a limited amount of people from my high school, but we hadn’t been friends at that point in time, so I didn’t feel like I had a support system here. The girls on my floor were really nice, but I hadn’t grown comfortable with them yet. Fortunately, they turned out to be some of the greatest people I know and three years later, I still hang out with them. I have made additional friends throughout the years, and despite how busy I am, I have never been more excited for the school year than I am right now because of the people I have in my life.
But a lot of people have problems making friends right away. I know that I am not alone in this experience, and I know that for many, getting involved right away is how they try to combat it. Sororities and fraternities are an option that some people tend to either love or hate; very rarely do I meet someone who has a middle-of-the-road opinion. I do, however.
My older sister was in a sorority for part of her college career at Bradley University. She ended up dropping for a number of reasons, but I remember that a big draw for her was the sense of sisterhood that comes with joining Greek life. I never had that desire to join, but I do understand the desire to fit in and make friends easily.
President of Sigma Sigma Sigma sorority at ISU and junior public relations major Alyssa Phelps said, “You will make the best friends of your life because they have the same values as you! It is also a lot of fun because of all the philanthropies and Greek events you participate in.”
Even though I am not in a sorority, I can understand her point. Executive Vice President of the Interfraternity Council at ISU and former Alpha Tau Omega president Graham Niswander explained the amount of philanthropy work that is involved with Greek life by saying, “Here at ISU, we raised over $100,000 and did over 25,000 hours of community service last year alone.”
Niswander, a senior molecular biology and pre-med major, went on to add, “One thing people do not see from the outside is the amount of growth and knowledge you can learn as a leader of a student organization, especially a fraternity or sorority … It is essential to set yourself apart from your peers and taking on big responsibilities within the student organizations you are part of is a huge way to do that.”
“Sororities and fraternities may offer ways to take on more responsibility, but they are also a great way to network,” Phelps said.
Other student organizations offer contacts for networking, but many contacts cease after college graduation. From my understanding, the brothers and sisters made in fraternities and sororities are just that — additional family meant to last a lifetime. This means they could help someone find a job opening down the line or help in smaller capacities. It doesn’t matter. The core idea is that mentality to remain in each other’s lives to help one another out and support each other like family. Who wouldn’t want that?
The stereotypes surrounding Greek life will probably never end. The idea that partying is the first priority for fraternities and sororities will take a while to disappear, if it ever does. And as someone not in a sorority, that doesn’t directly matter to me. However, Niswander said, “My pride in our Greek community is based on the fact that we continue to strive toward building a better image not only for students and faculty but also the community of Bloomington-Normal.”
Junior special education major and president of Delta Delta Delta sorority Danielle Dorion added, “Being a part of a chapter allows you to grow into the best person you can be.”
Whether or not you decide to rush this year or in the future, that is a goal I believe everyone should have. And I believe that you don’t ever have to stop growing.
Grace Johnson is a senior publishing major and columnist for The Vidette. Any questions or comments regarding her column can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.