With all that the college lifestyle entails, it can become tedious for students to juggle every activity thrown in their direction. Trying to make new friends and connect with people can seem like a hard bridge to cross, but in reality, everyone seems to be in the same boat.
With more than 19,000 undergraduate students, it may be easy to get lost in the shuffle and just become a number. For those who strive to be a part of a family away from home, the Temple University Greek Association may be the answer.
There are a plethora of fraternities and sororities to join as a Temple Owl, and Rush Week is the time when students can learn about the various organizations and ultimately decide where they fit best. Academic requirements, such as maintaining a 2.5 GPA and earning good grades, have become a staple of Greek life.
For men looking to become brothers, Matthew Burris, president of Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and a senior biochemistry major, said brotherhood is more of an experience than something that can be explained.
“To me, being a part of the fraternity is like a home away from home,” Burris said. “If I need a ride to the airport at 4 a.m., I can rely on my brother to take me. Or, if I need help with a math assignment, I can trust my brother knows what he’s doing.”
Getting familiar with the brothers of fraternities is the ultimate goal during Rush Week. Activities include watching Monday Night Football together, playing games of pick-up sports and having fun at a barbecue.
Alpha Tau Omega is a fraternity that focuses on academics and community service but tries to maintain a balance between school and play.
“We hold study halls at our chapter house every week, and our alumni association offers scholarships and subsidized dues to brothers who achieve academic excellence,” Burris said. “We give back to the community by working with organizations such as the Alzheimer’s Association, the Philadelphia Committee to End Homelessness and the Philadelphia Zoo.”
Although the main focuses of Alpha Tau Omega are school, community service and brotherhood, the social aspects are an added bonus. These events can include sorority socials, date parties and formals.
For women looking to get involved, a sorority could be the answer. The three sororities that create the Panhellenic Association include Alpha Epsilon Phi, Delta Zeta and Phi Sigma Sigma.
Senior social work major Leigh Fitzpatrick is the social chair of Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority.
“Sisterhood is all about the deep connections you make with people who may be different from you, but in a sense they are just like you in that they are looking to meet new people and make new friends too,” Fitzpatrick said. “I know that because of my sisterhood I am a better, happier and more involved person.”
Fitzpatrick’s sorority is also very involved in the community. The sisters visit women’s shelters and collect funds from “can shakes” to raise money for many causes, such as Pediatric AIDS.
“Most importantly, it is the small things you do not hear much about that really count,” Fitzpatrick said. “The close relationships I have made through being in a sorority, not only with my sorority sisters, but with the sisters in other sororities on campus as well, are what really make the experience worthwhile.”
Alpha Tau Omega and Alpha Epsilon Phi are only two of the organizations involved in Greek life. Other fraternities and sororities are based on cultural and interest-based similarities.
Melissa Alam, a junior marketing major, is a member of the South Asian-interest based sorority Kappa Phi Gamma. Her sorority represents women of Caribbean, African-American, European, Central and Latin American, Asian and Middle Eastern descent. Through their diversity, they broaden their horizons and are able to bridge gaps and dissolve many stereotypes.
“One reason I rushed for this sorority was because I was looking for a group of sisters that would give me a link to my culture,” Alam said.
Lauren Sheehan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.