By Marissa Clowers
There are over 9 million fraternity and sorority members nationally according to The Fraternity Advisor. Throughout the years, Greek life has proven to be beneficial for networking and helping students to prepare for life after college. When joining a sorority or fraternity new members are introduced to community service opportunities, lifelong support from a brotherhood or sisterhood, leadership opportunities, post-graduation career opportunities and the chance to help shape the perception of Greek life.
Some individuals join these different Greek life organizations because of the relationships and bonds that come with membership. A fraternity or sorority provides members with a strong social and professional support system. “A brotherhood/sisterhood consists of individuals whom have a deep love for one another,” said Nycole Branch, University of North Florida senior and member of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority Inc. “They are there for each other through thick and thin always showing grace and compassion.”
People join Greek life for their own personal reasons, whether it be for the parties, networking, to gain a certain status on campus or even because of a tradition in their family. “This organization was introduced to me through family tradition which was only one generation prior to me,” said Law Enforcement Officer Shawn Skinner II — a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. “Omega Psi Phi has great African American history. Some of the most noble African American icons around the world and throughout history are members of this organization, so why not be a part of something so great.”
It is no surprise that Greek life has had its share of negative spotlight around different campuses such as inappropriate and belligerent behavior and nonstop parties. Many fail to mention the charitable acts that sororities and fraternities perform within the community. “We tutor for Northeast Florida Boys and Girls Club, we conduct a food drive in partnership with Feeding Northeast Florida, we conducted a backpack drive and backpacks to four schools,” said Alecia Clayton, Assistant Principal and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc.
There are different volunteering events based on the time of year and Greek life organizations come up with ways to help. This includes making sure local families feel special for the holidays. “Every year around Thanksgiving time we have a turkey drive where we go to numerous neighborhoods to give out free turkeys,” Skinner said. “Around Christmas, the week before, we host a toy drive to give away free toys to the less fortunate youth.”
One of the major benefits of being a part of a sorority or fraternity is the networking opportunities — more than three-quarters of Fortune 500 executives belong to a fraternity or sorority and the first female senator was a sorority member. Being in a fraternity or sorority doesn’t necessarily guarantee a successful career but it does help with connecting members to other members who are further along in their careers. “Our sorors usually network amongst one another to place members in contact with job opportunities,” Clayton said.
Though the concept is the same, the initiation process varies by fraternity or sorority. For Undergrad there is usually a general interest meeting held for anyone that wants to join. “The interest process included being asked by a member if you were interested,” said Clayton. “If so, that member along with 2 others had to submit letters of recommendation.”
Some students might not be comfortable with pledging during Undergrad school so pledging to a fraternity or sorority post-graduation is an option. However, if a member is married with a full time job and has children, being in a fraternity or sorority will definitely take some getting used to and may even require a bit of sacrifice. “I have a career and a family, which takes me away from them a little more than I would like,” says Clayton.
Ultimately, being a member of a fraternity or sorority is a personal choice. There are benefits that come along with membership that cannot be experienced outside of the fraternity or sorority life. “My favorite part of being in a sorority are the bonds that I have formed with not only the sisters of my chapter, but sisters all over the United States,” said Branch. Being a part of Greek life is something that the members take pride in and will for cherish for a lifetime.