Greek system looking to dismiss stereotypical misconceptions

Victoria Garcia

It was a concept as simple as friendship that first attracted Alpha Delta member Jarret Kitch to Greek life. Three years later, it seems the senior business major wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Being a part of a fraternity opened my eyes to the opportunities beyond college as far as a professional career goes,” said Kitch. “More than anything, it has prepared me for life after graduation. I feel like I’ll be a better and stronger person in the real world.”

Fraternities and sororities are recognized as the largest and most visible values-based organization on campus. There are an estimated 750,000 student members on 800 campuses in both the U.S. and Canada.

On the Washburn campus, there are ten different Greek organizations, five sororities and five fraternities. These are Alpha Kappa Alpha, Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, Zeta Tau Alpha, Alpha Delta, Delta Chi, Kappa Sigma, Phi Delta Theta and Sigma Phi Epsilon.

Through a process known as “recruitment,” students are invited to visit the chapters to learn what each group has to offer. While students aren’t obligated to join even after participating in recruitment, many current members believe that the process enhanced their desire to be a part of a brotherhood or sisterhood.

Such was the case for Zeta Tau Alpha president Sadye Mages. In her freshman year Mages turned to the Greek community while seeking out campus involvement. Upon completing recruitment she knew it was the place for her. Now a junior, the accounting/finance major believes her constant involvement in the house has helped her to better deal with people as well as stay organized.

“The house is made up of a pretty diverse amount of sisters and being from a small town, I’ve learned a lot of culture while living in,” said Mages. “I’ve made really good friends that will be in my life for a long time, and being surrounded by these outstanding, independent women has really helped me to become much of the same.”

While she originally wasn’t sure about joining a sorority her freshman year, now junior Rachel Taylor is the current Delta Gamma president and enjoys the random moments that come with living in the house.

“Being in a sisterhood like Delta Gamma has given me a sense of dedication,” said Taylor. “I truly believe that once you are dedicated to something, you then become that much more dedicated to everything.”

Along with the desire to be a better athlete, leader and gentleman, current Sigma Phi Epsilon president William Nusser first joined the fraternity to maintain his good grades.

“I thought it would be a good way of staying on top of everything,” said Nusser. “It’s really all about being a part of something bigger than yourself.”

A current fraternity GPA of 3.23 places the Sigma Phi Epsilons above the average GPA of non-Greek campus men, a 2.7. Consistently maintaining above a 3.15 GPA, the fraternity has had the highest grades of all the Washburn fraternities for the past 28 of 29 semesters.

Leadership and community service play a significant role in the brotherhood and sisterhood of the Greek community. In fact, Kitch, Mages, Nusser and Taylor all cited the two concepts as the most beneficial part of being involved in a Greek organization.

Their response was just as equal in regard to the one thing they wish more non-Greek students understood about Greek life. The disconnection between students who are involved in a sorority or fraternity and students who are not is as widespread as the misconceptions. The many stereotypes built up against the Greek community have members striving to set the record straight.

“Greek life is not a party,” said Kitch. “It’s designed to help its members become better, more successful people.”

Nusser explained that while movies portray the typical “Animal House” environment, it’s not at all what the Washburn Greek system is about. Taylor’s hope is that more students will get to know the Greek community and attend some of their events before they are so quick to judge. Mages agreed.

“The stereotypes don’t hold true,” said Mages. “The Greeks are a group of people who are about building each other up and making each other better. If I wouldn’t have been in a sorority I wouldn’t be who I am today. My sisters are so supportive.”

Jessica Neumann, assistant director of student activities, believes the Greek experience provides members with an environment to develop and live their values, which eventually births authentic leadership.

“The one thing that it boils down to is that there is a place for everyone in the Greek community,” said Neumann.

To learn more about Greek life at Washburn students can call (785) 670-1010 ext. 1723, drop a line at [email protected] or visit the office on the lower level of the Memorial Union.