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Why Go Greek?

I am a Delta Zeta and I belong. I will always be welcome in the eyes of my sisters, for I exist as a small part of the everlasting bond. I am proud to say I belong with those who dared to build a sisterhood filled with understanding, friendship, and love. All the joys, tears, and love that I have shared together with my sisters will never leave my memory. For in Delta Zeta, we each become a part of one another. My sisters are those to whom I may turn to in times of both happiness and sorrow. Like you I questioned. Like you I didn't know for sure. But I stand here today with the warmth and love of my sisters and I know I am proud to be a Delta Zeta.

That passage is often read at rush parties like the one I attended. I joined the Epsilon Iota chapter of Delta Zeta in Spring 2001, during my junior year at Fairmont State College. Before, I had heard all the stereotypes, all of the stories, all of the "Animal House" legends, and I believed them. Until one girl took the time to talk with me. After I had learned what Greek Life was really about, I found myself wanting to be involved. The Greek Life at Fairmont State seemed to be the answer I was searching for. So today, I will explain how Greek Life can provide solutions for some of the needs of college age students, and encourage each of you to get involved.

College is a very unique time in a person's life. I say unique because college can be described as a time of extremes. From the high-stress environment of the classroom to the large amount of downtime student find they have on evenings and weekends. From the desire to "fit-in" and belong, to the need to find you own individuality. Many students feel confused by the sheer amount of choices available to them in a college setting. Study? Or Party? Sleep? Or Go to class? Get involved? Or just sit back and watch? Most of these decisions or needs can be narrowed into three categories: Academic achievement: to get good grades and graduate - That is why you came to college - Social Interaction - the ability to meet people and have conversations (and fun) with them, and A sense of belonging - knowing that you are a part of something that you have a "home" in your college setting. Each of these needs intertwines with the other and adds to the daily stress of life. Each student must find his or her own way to deal with these decisions. One way to help is Greek Life.

"Greek Life" is a term often used when discussing fraternities and sororities, or Greek-lettered organizations. These Greek-lettered organizations got their start as secret class societies, which were formed as outlets for expression in the very restrictive early colleges. As the college environment evolved, so did these secret societies, until the fraternities and sororities that we know today were formed. The long history of Greek Life adds to its rich traditions. One of the most known traditions is that of "rush". Interested students visit each chapter to learn its specifics and to give the organization a chance to get to know them. After this mutual-selection process, fraternities and sororities extend invitations for membership, known as bids. If the bid is accepted, that student is said to be "pledged" to that organization. After a probationary period, where the student learns about that organization's history, ideals, and traditions, the students are initiated as members.

This probationary period is one of the most misunderstood traditions. Most collegiate chapters, including those here at Fairmont State College, have found themselves changing the educational period in order to not "haze" the "pledged" students. Hazing, which is best defined by Encarta.com, is the practice of initiating pledges into fraternity membership by having them perform difficult, humiliating, or dangerous tasks. When many people think of an initiation period, they imagine horrible scenes of forced alcohol, physical beatings, or humiliating slavery to the active members. Greek organizations nation-wide have taken large steps to correct these negative scents. Prospective members are no longer addressed as "pledges" because it is believe that such a term indicates a lower status. Today, "new" or "associate" members are more in control of their educational period than ever before. During my own "new member education" period, I was surprised to find myself and the 8 other girls that made up my pledge class making the decisions about a variety of things. We were told a certain number of things that needed to be done, and often we helped to decide when and how to get things done.

As a new member and a new initiate, I was very please to see Delta Zeta meeting many of my basic college needs. Greek organizations know and understand that a student's first responsibility is to be just that - a student. Academics are a major focus of fraternities and sororities. Every organization has a minimum G.P.A. for students to maintain in order to remain active. Weekly study halls, a mentor program, and even informal tutoring are available to all members to help with academic success. Personally after a couple of bad semesters, I now find myself looking at the Dean's List again.

Now, let me take a moment to paint a picture for your imagination. A student wakes up, disoriented and thirsty, on a foreign couch in an unfamiliar house. He is wearing the same clothes worn last night, except now these clothes - stained with beer and vomit - tell a different story not easily remembered. This student will have to rely on his friends to recount the antics that supposedly made the night before so "fun".

This is often how members of Greek Life are viewed. Partying every weekend, sometimes more, until the majority of their time is spent in a drunken haze. Movies and news media add to this stereotype by only portraying the "party" side of social events. Often, inter-organizational social events fill a social need by basing parties on a non-alcoholic occasion, with a follow-up gathering for those of legal drinking age.

Finally, the third major need of college age students is a sense of belonging. By joining Delta Zeta, I immediately felt connected to the other girls, and the school. I feel that I am part of an organization, and knowing that helps me to be motivated to come to class everyday. The membership in Greek life has helped me to get more involved with FSC. Through Delta Zeta, I got involved with Student Government, where I now hold the position Director of Public Relations. I am also involved in Interpanhellenic, and Intermurals. With these groups, not a day goes by that I don't feel out-of-place or alone.

There are just three ways that membership in Greek Life can be beneficial. I urge each of you to consider what a sorority or fraternity could do for your college and future career. Thank you.

I must say THANK YOU! To my big sis for helping me pull together the research needed for this speech.

As Soon as I find my list of Sources, they will be added to this page.

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Just a Note: This page is in no way affiliated with the DELTA ZETA National Organization, or the Epsilon Iota Chapter of FSC. It is only an expression of my views.