By Mallory Foley
Over the past few years there has been a major push to attack the value of Greek organizations. They argue that they are bastions of privilege and are intolerant. This view is not accurate and it is important to me that this negative view is corrected.
As a junior at the University of Alabama involved in Greek life, I can honestly say that it has shaped my college experience thus far. Coming into college as an out of state student with zero connections can be a scary and overwhelming experience; however, Greek life provided me with the opportunity to plant my roots at my new home away from home. It is no secret that Alabama Greek life has been faced with challenges and criticism, but my experience has been nothing short of exceptional. From an outsider point of view, it is easy to look at the Greek system and only see the stereotypes, but these stereotypes are far from accurate. Furthermore, I have experienced criticism first hand from individuals who claim that the Greek system supports seclusion from non-Greeks and perks that other students fail to receive. Not only are these claims false, but they also fail to acknowledge all the positive effects the Greek system brings forth.
For starters, going through sorority recruitment was an excellent way for me to become adjusted to life on campus and being away from home before college even started. I was able to arrive on campus, establish friends, and find my niche in a sea of thousands of fellow students. As a student that went into college knowing only my random other out of state roommates I had to meet on Facebook, sorority recruitment quickly connected me to friends and a sense of comfort in my state of unease. Within a little over a week of being on campus at Alabama, I already was becoming part of an organization with hundreds of other girls just like me. Contrary to popular belief, recruitment isn’t about your appearance, race, religion or whatever other misconceptions people like to talk about. Rather, it is about how you plan to make a difference on campus and which house can support you in achieving your goals. As I was going through recruitment, I knew I wanted a house that offered a little bit of everything. I wanted to have a presence on campus. I wanted to be pushed to be my best. And I wanted a home that would help me strive to grow in my faith, values, education, and friendships. Luckily for most Greek students and myself, my aspirations to find the perfect house came true. Although I may be biased towards my own house, I firmly believe that the Greek organization as a whole offers a special, positive impact on campus. Each house has a different personality, but we all strive to get involved and network to ensure that college is an outstanding and memorable experience for all students.
To list the positive attributes brought forth by Greek life would be endless; however, I will list a few that are most important to me. For one, each and every sorority and fraternity places a focus on education and GPA. As a freshman, we were required to set aside a certain amount of hours per week for academic obligations, which was an incredible way to adjust to the college course load and fine-tune my time management skills. If you appeared to be struggling in a class, you were set up with a tutor and put on a form of social probation until your grades improved. After all, we attend college for an education first and fun second. So to all the people who claim that Greek life only promotes partying your college away, you are extremely incorrect! Secondly, Greek life provided me with an opportunity to get involved on campus. Not only was it recommended that we attend career fairs and apply for clubs, societies, and non-Greek organizations, but it was also a requirement. Two months into college, I was already involved in leadership conferences, community outreach and mentoring groups, as well as Student Government. And no, I did not obtain these positions because Greek students receive privileges; but rather, I received the positions because I submitted a resume, sat through an interview, worked hard, and had goals to be involved on campus like any other student, Greek or non-Greek. Furthermore, the positions I have held allowed me to expand my network all across campus and in the Tuscaloosa community. As with most Greek students, I have friends both Greek and non-Greek, so to say that Greek life creates a gap between students is to disregard the many friendships my friends and I have made. In addition, fraternities and sororities push you to better in your faith and your service towards others. Each house has their own special philanthropy, but we all work together to promote unity and a servant’s heart within the community. It has been a huge blessing to be able to surround myself with individuals that support my morals, and push me to better myself everyday. Lastly, Greek life has given me the confidence to know that I can succeed. When I started college, I was shy, introverted, and unsure of myself, but now I can say that I am confident in my abilities and have found my voice thanks to the massive support system I have found on campus. My friends are like an extension of my family as cheesy as that may be, and they support my numerous ideas and adventures. I am constantly blessed by the opportunities and memories the Greek system provides and I encourage any student to look past the stereotypes and give it a try. I am confident you will be pleasantly surprised!
About the Author: Mallory Foley is an intern at the Reid Law Firm. She is a student at the University of Alabama double majoring in accounting and American studies. Mallory may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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