Drinking, sticky floors, beer pong, breaking rules and more drinking-this is what most college students think of when it comes to fraternities.
Though there are plenty of students who do not go to fraternities to get smashed and some who go not planning to drink at all, many students plan on consuming some alcohol. But there is more to Greek life than drinking.
Hazing has also recently become a serious issue on campus, and students might wonder why anyone would go through such pain to be accepted, but every fraternity and sorority has a purpose behind its existence, one that excludes partying. The most common goals held by these groups include unity, communication, responsibility, leadership and academic success.
Every new organization needs to state a goal or objective that “does not duplicate that of another existing organization,” according to the student center Web site, www.temple.edu/sac/. Partying or drinking is not a valid goal for a fraternity or sorority, as stated in the final rule for campus organizations: “All organizations and their members and guests must comply with the state laws and university policies relating to the use of alcohol.”
It is not mandatory that a fraternity or sorority register to be listed on the student center Web site. One fraternity that decided not to register is Pi Lambda Phi, one of the frats that is closest in proximity to most of the residence halls. The members refused to comment on why they did not register. They are, however, registered with the Temple University Greek Association, which is mandatory for all Greek organizations.
“Frats and sororities all do such great things and all do hard work, but no one really takes note of it,” said Stephanie Zbikowski, the Graduate Extern for Greek Affairs.
Zbikowski said the members of fraternities and sororities do not feel it is necessary to boast about the positive things they do, while naming a few things that some fraternities and sororities have done this year. Lambda Theta Alpha Latin sorority organized a week of Latino programs during Latino Heritage Month and Delta Sigma Theta organized “Delta Night at the Apollo.” “They really just do too much to name everything,” Zbikowski said.
Involved in Greek Life since her second semester of college, Zbikowski said “the university is still ironing out their policies” when it comes to Greek organizations. Knowing she can only be on campus 20 hours per week, Zbikowski also said, “Students are really doing a lot of what they do on their own, with help from few volunteers, and no full time adviser or staff. It is a known fact that student affairs at this college are still working to improve their programs, programs to get other staff involved and it has been a slow progress.”
TUGA president Jeannie Sabaroff feels that most people do not recognize all of the positive things that fraternities and sororities do.
“There are a lot of misconceptions, and we just want to get the message out that we do a lot of positive things for the campus and the community,” Sabaroff said. “We just want to be seen in a positive light for all the good we do.”
Sabaroff also said, “I also work with [Campus Alcohol Substance Awareness], which some people see as an oxymoron, but [Phi Sigma Sigma is] an alcohol and drug-free house.
Another group that Sabaroff spoke of was the National Pan-Hellenic Council. According to Sabaroff, the NPHC organizes at least three programs per week for the campus to participate in.
“We just hope with all of the hard work we show, one day we will be rewarded with someone who will always be around for the Greeks on campus,” added Sabaroff, referring to the lack of staff involved with Greek Affairs. “We hope to branch out with other organizations.”
One night, the members of a fraternity or sorority may throw a party, but the next night, these same people could be out cleaning a park, collecting money to benefit abandoned children, or sitting and contemplating something to do to help the university.
One anonymous student talked about the rules for fraternities when it comes to parties. “They are only allowed to have so many parties per semester, and if they go over the amount, they will be fined.” Instead, these groups are able to manage and organize their time between the occasional party and the admirable community service.
Members of fraternities and sororities are still students. Like everyone else, they too have homework to do and tests to study for. The majority of these organizations try to help out the community, as well as the university, while throwing parties once in awhile. Between these activities, these groups aim to maintain successful grades.
Not only do academics mean a lot to the 600 members of Greek Life on campus, but academic excellence is extremely important to them all. Sabaroff’s sorority has proof of their academic excellence; for three of the last four years, Phi Sigma Sigma, Xi Chapter, has won the National “Chapter of the Year” Award. It is also stated in many of the organizations’ goals that they are striving for academic excellence.
Greek Life is not only about drinking or participating in meaningless games, it is also about groups of students who strive to achieve in school, but at the same time, want to do more. These people want to devote their time to helping others who are less fortunate and help students enjoy their time in college. Also, according to Sabaroff, these organizations volunteer for more community service than any other organizations on campus.
“The members of Greek Life are part student and part brother or sister. It prepares us for going out into the real world and prepares us for a career,” Sabaroff said. “If not for Greek Life, so many people would not have jobs right now or would not know what they want in the future.”‘
Jeff Appelblatt can be reached at The.Jeff@Temple.edu.