Why Go Greek?

Marin Cohn

These days, many people have a poor conception of Greek life. Not just at Colgate, but nationally around the country. Greek life is often seen as elitist, stupid and even dangerous when unfortunate incidents come to light. How, then, is Greek life so strong at Colgate, and why are there are more than 7,000 chapters at over 800 campuses in the United States? How is it that this semester 70 percent of sophomore girls opted to rush a sorority? What exactly is it about Greek life that excites its members and inspires such dedicated involvement?

What many people often do not realize is that being Greek goes beyond frat boys and beer. Each Greek chapter here at Colgate is a self governed organization where individual students themselves work together to make decisions, create governing boards and work as a cohesive unit. It is no wonder that the ability of Greek organizations to inculcate leadership in its members has resulted in all but two U.S. Presidents since 1825 as well as over 75 percent of the U. S. Congress and 85 percent of Supreme Court Justices since 1910 being members of Greek chapters.

Even here at Colgate, Greek leadership extends beyond the chapters themselves into the various student groups that Greek students lead and are involved in. What’s more is that the Greek network helps to rally support for such groups by spreading the word to their organizations and collaborating with groups for fundraisers like Phi-Tau and Breast Cancer Awareness’ “Party for Pink” or Beta-Theta Pi and the Student Global Aids Coalition.

The cohesiveness of Greeks consequently results in a strong campus presence: from involvement in student groups (intramural sports to BCAC, Women’s Lacrosse to Adopt a Grandparent and SGA to the Student Philanthropy Council), to involvements in the Cove to Mr. Colgate and Parents’ Night Out — a program run by Panhellenic which enables the faculty to take a night out on the town while students watch their kids. Both the Inter-Fraternity Council and Panhellenic in turn work to rally Greek groups to support causes like Relay for Life, work with the Cove on various projects and have begun to work with specific departments like Women’s Studies to help advocate on specific issues. Each semester alone, sorority women at Colgate give more than $5000 to charities, both locally and nationally.

What is great about Greek life? Camaraderie, support, strong leadership and campus involvement (to name just some), all while maintaining the best grades on campus. The all-Greek GPA is higher than the overall non-Greek GPA and the all-sorority GPA specifically is higher than both the all-women and all-university average. While Greeks may “party hard,” they sure as hell study hard as well. Not to mention that managing a social life and participating in an organization while maintaining one’s grades are important qualities in the work space as well as generally in life. What Greeks are able to accomplish is a task many find difficult to do, and that is to balance their lives between friendship and brother- or sisterhood and their studies — between work and play — and establish a keen understanding of what in their lives is important. Beer drinking and silly costumes, yes. However if you look closer, the best parts of Greek life are what is done each and every day, yet often go unnoticed.