Beyond Broad Street: Recognizing the Contributions of Greeks Across Campus

Leslie Kissinger

The word “involved” is one of my favor­ites to describe Colgate students to friends and family. Everyone at this school seems to be involved in dozens of organizations, a multi­tude of special events and a plethora of lead­ership activities. On our newly instituted Google calendar, we are assailed with the incredible list of events covering a wide range of topics, as­suring me that Colgate students will change the world some day. At the same time, so often I find an epidemic of over-programming that leads to a lack of aware­ness of those outside of our own immediate connections. We get so involved in the diffi­culty of implementing our own agendas that we sometimes forget to help someone else’s group be successful.

One of the big­gest arguments against Greek Life is that it reinforces this isolat­ing tendency, because a group encompassing between 50 and 150 students leads to an enormous feat of planning to accomplish anything. How­ever, based on personal experiences over the past three years, I must challenge this complaint of exclusivity and isolation. In Gamma Phi Beta alone, we currently have over 130 members, each ready with her Colgate get-involved mentality. Every single girl is actively involved in at least one other organization, if not a half-dozen, and works hard to promote the activities of her groups to our other members. In our sorority, we have athletes, political activ­ists, philanthropists, mentors, members in student government and participants in a wide variety of other groups based on hob­bies and interests. If you haven’t done the math, that is an enormous network of con­nections to opportunities and experiences that individually we might not otherwise be exposed to on campus; and if you add in the other Greek houses on Broad Street, you might find that Greeks are represent­ed in nearly every single SGA-recognized group you come across.

I have also found in my chapter that Greek life fosters a sense of social responsi­bility, deep connection to community and serious passion for leadership. I have grown as an individual through my connections to my sisters, every encounter teaching me something new. Before Gamma Phi Beta, I didn’t know that Muslim Students Aassociation has amazing food at all their events, that Col­gate cares about energy-efficient light bulbs, that you can mentor at pretty much any school in the area or that Peer Health Educators come up with the greatest slogans. I also have learned what it means to be part of a community that is not comfortable with the status quo simply to avoid rocking the boat, and I’ve become friends with some of the stron­gest women on this cam­pus who promote active change and awareness.

I am proud to be a member of Greek Life on this campus. I wear my letters to class knowing they represent a truly extraordinary (and HUGE!) group of women with an impres­sive set of values and connections. There is always room for work to be done, but I can say with confidence that I have contributed more to Colgate as a Gamma Phi than I ever would have been able to accomplish on my own.