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Opinion

Going Greek opens doors for students

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February 21, 2013

When people think about Greek Life, they typically associate this lifestyle with that of the one portrayed in the movie “Animal House.” Partying into the wee hours of the morning, drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, skipping class on a daily basis and causing problems on campus are only a few of the negative stereotypes commonly held about Greek Life. However, these stereotypes are far from accurate. Going Greek not only allows students to become more involved both on campus and in the community, but it also provides them with valuable experiences that help them grow as individuals.

One of the goals of fraternities and sororities at UW-River Falls is to give members leadership experience. Within each organization, elections are held to appoint members to certain positions. These positions range from president to chairperson of a committee. Grady Nelson joined Theta Chi last spring and is now the president of the fraternity. He has attended numerous conferences put on by Theta Chi and said that leadership opportunities are one of the most valuable things he has gained from his involvement in Greek Life.

Similarly, Liz Byers has been a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha for four years and has held a variety of leadership positions within the organization. Byers has been the secretary, parliamentarian, standards chairwoman, public relations chairwoman, social chairwoman and president.

“I gained a lot of leadership on campus, especially when I was the president,” Byers said. “The president becomes the face of the sorority, particularly when interacting with administration.”

Members are also encouraged to pursue involvement and leadership opportunities outside of Greek Life. Members of the Greek community are very involved in other organizations on campus such as Student Senate, Dairy Club, Rock Climbing Club and a variety of others. Nearly every campus organization has a Greek member in it.

In addition to leadership on campus, Greek organizations strive to build connections in the community by doing different types of service work. Each fraternity or sorority has a primary philanthropy that they serve, and each one participates in community service activities throughout River Falls. Sigma Alpha has a program called Agriculture in the Classroom.

“We go into schools and teach elementary students about agriculture programs and where their food comes from,” said Sigma Alpha member Ashley Belongia of the program. In addition to Agriculture in the Classroom, Sigma Alpha walks dogs for the animal shelter, writes letters to soldiers and takes part in other service opportunities throughout the community. Belongia says that this involvement has greatly strengthened Sigma Alpha’s relationship with the community.

Greek Life also emphasizes academic achievement. Every fraternity or sorority on the UWRF campus has a minimum grade point average requirement, and this GPA differs from organization to organization. In order to be eligible to join a fraternity or sorority, one must meet the GPA requirement for the organization that he or she wants to join. Furthermore, members must continue to meet or exceed this GPA requirement from semester to semester.

Alpha Gamma Rho has an academic program that offers study groups broken down by major in order to enhance the classroom performance of its members. Tanner Johnson, a member of Alpha Gamma Rho, said, “My overall classroom performance has improved since joining Alpha Gamma Rho. Having classes together and being able to study together has been a great resource to help with my classes.”

Finally, it should be noted that going Greek is a great way to meet new people. Alexa Rarick is a member of Phi Mu and she is a transfer student. It is her first year at UWRF.
“As a transfer student, going Greek was a great way to meet new people and get involved at the same time,” Rarick said.

Joining a fraternity or sorority in college is a great opportunity, and this positive experience is something that extends well beyond one’s college years. Each Greek organization has a variety of chapters at different colleges and universities, thus forming a larger community. Being connected to a fraternity or sorority allows one to build connections later in life because many times, people network based on the Greek organizations they were connected to in college.

Alexis De Caster, a member of Alpha Omicron Pi, said, “I like that I am part of a community and not just an isolated group.”

It is obvious that going Greek has innumerable advantages. Each sorority or fraternity has specific characteristics that make it unique from other Greek organizations on campus. To get more information about fraternities and sororities on our campus, please visit their page on the University website. The next time you think about Greek Life, instead of accepting the negative myths as facts, recognize the amazing opportunities that these organizations have to offer.

Morgan Stippel is a political science major and a professional writing minor. When she graduates from UW-River Falls, she wants to become a state prosecutor and specialize in domestic violence cases.