Greek organizations have been around since the early 1700s. However, during a time of racial injustice and lack of freedom, African Americans that attended universities wanted to have their own safe space academically and racially.
They were also seeking to thrive with like-minded people who wanted change within their communities.
Both groups wanted organizations that aided in the values of brotherhood or sisterhood, scholarship and service to the community.
While these are the basic understandings of these organizations, behind each organization lies more than those values mentioned, which is where the research starts in seeking to gain membership.
Those looking to join Greek life start out by becoming an 'interest' in an organization. Member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. Evan Gilbert offered some advice on what to do for those who are interested in an organization.
“If you are interested in a Greek letter organization, it is important to show yourself if you want to be a part of an organization's brotherhood or sisterhood. You want to be around. You want to know what is going on in the organization, know what it is about and what is expected of you," Gilbert said.
"How you uphold yourself on social media is also important. You must treat it like a job you are applying for. If we see it, we can find it. Don't post anything wild," Gilbert continued.
While the aesthetic of Greek life can be appealing, member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority Inc. Isis Essex said that interests should pick their organizations based on their values.
“Do not go around campus talking about your interest to us and to your friends. Your interest should be known by you and how you express it by showing up to our informational, our events, but putting it on social media is a big no,” Essex said.
"Do your research, know what our organization stands for and why you want to be a part of it. Do not pick because our organization colors are your favorite colors. Know the reason behind why you want to join," Essex continued.
Interests will attend events, speak with members and attempt to seek membership in an organization discreetly. This is meant to help candidates get to know the members, as well as the members getting to know the candidate.
Each organization makes up the "Divine Nine" and the National Pan-Hellenic Council.
Members of these organizations were present to have a panel discussion on how to be an interest on Friday. They shared advice on showing interest such as getting to know members through social media.
The interests can talk one-on-one to ask questions and get to know them as people.
Members also encouraged showing up to events or contacting the members if interests will not be able to attend.
They also encouraged interests to be discreet about which organizations they are interested in. They said no one should know who is interested in which organization because word travels quickly.
The organizations at this event explained that the most important thing about considering Greek life is knowing an individual's grades are good.
Many of the organizations have a minimum grade point average. This not only plays an important role in being a student, but also as an interest for a Greek letter organization.
“The big thing is to focus on your school. To begin with, for some organizations you need at least 2.5 [GPA]. You are here for a reason. The reason we are here is school,” member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Inc. Christopher Cline said.
As much as members wanted to have more members joining their organizations, they made sure to remind the audience that academics come first.
“Don't spend too much time worrying about joining a sorority or a fraternity if your grades are not good because you are here to get a degree first,” member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Chania Dobson said.
The members emphasized that being in a sorority or fraternity is a full-time and lifetime job. They run weekly meetings and create events.
In comparison, there is an opportunity to join a graduate or alumni chapter should you not want to be an alum.
"This should be something you see long-term and short-term. And if it is too much for you in school right now, when you graduate try to join afterward," member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. Alexis Francis said.
"It does not have to be right now, do not rush it if you're not good at multitasking with the timing. Only push for you to be a better person for yourself and others."
For more information about each organization, visit redbirdlife.illinoisstate.edu.