Greek life at Ursinus counters national stereotypes

Hunter Gellman

hugellman@ursinus.edu

When the words “Greek life” are thrown around in a sentence, something negative often follows. In the news, you hear all the time that a certain fraternity or sorority had done something terrible to endanger someone in their organization or the larger campus community.

In an online article for Philadelphia Magazine, Claire Sasko reported that Pennsylvania State University has recently banned the Beta Theta Pi fraternity because they hosted the party where a student “fell and sustained injuries that led to his death in February [2016].”

The press surrounding Greek life builds a negative picture which is echoed by student critiques.

In his 2015 opinion article for The Grizzly, student Jordan Ostrum advocated for the ban of Greek life at Ursinus stating the many reasons it can do more harm than good. Ostrum referred to some Greek organizations as “glorified drinking clubs,” which has become a major criticism that Greek life at Ursinus is trying to prove wrong.

While Greek organizations can have parties, like non-Greek organizations and sports teams, that is not our primary purpose.

At Ursinus, we as a Greek community are different and try to ensure a safe and fun experience even though people still hold objections to our existence on campus. We, as a Greek system, are stigmatized by the few bad chapters across the nation, branding all of us with a bad reputation.

I am a brother of the Delta Rho chapter of Phi Kappa Sigma. On campus, Ursinus lists the names of 14 Greek organizations. Of the 14, only four are national organizations, which have  national governing bodies, and the remaining nine are local organizations, which are only found on the campus of Ursinus and have no national affiliation. According to the Ursinus website, about 20 percent of the student body are involved in Greek life.

The Greek governing body on campus is the Inter-Greek Council (IGC). The IGC sets precedents for us to follow in order to make our organizations as successful as possible.

All Greek organizations in the IGC have to abide by a set of rules laid out by Five Star, which is a program that gives each organization a variety of tasks to complete in order to stay in good standing with the college. These tasks include community service, philanthropy, and many other events.

Greek organizations are more than just a group of people banded together with a set of letters on our chest: We are like family. I consider my fraternity part of my family and I would do anything for them. Senior sister of Tau Sigma Gamma, Emily van Mulbregt, feels the same sentiments as I do.

“My sisters are my family at Ursinus,” said van Mulbregt. “We may fight or get mad at each other, but at the end of the day they are my best friends and we know that we can always count on each other for anything.”

With that being said, specifically my fraternity holds itself to a high standard. To start, we do not haze. At Ursinus there is no tolerance for any acts that are considered to be hazing. Each organization must follow strict guidelines from both the school as well as the state during their new member education process to ensure there is no hazing.

If a new member feels they are being hazed, we encourage student reach to out to an administrator or a peer advocate. On campus we try to make the new member process as pleasant as possible.

On another positive note, Ursinus states that Greek GPAs on average are higher than the general student population.

My fraternity also sets high academic standards. If we fail to meet them we are then required to do study hours with our academic chair.

However, we also make it a point to promote community events as well as academic excellence. My fraternity participates in Airband, which raises money for a different charity each year and we hold a 24-hour bike ride, known as Bike-A-Thon, in order to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society.

Of course, there will always be objections to Greek life. To those people I say that they should examine how Greek life works at institutions like Ursinus. We make lifelong friendships and provide opportunities for community involvement. Going Greek was one of the best things I have done in my college career, and I would not have changed that experience for the world. For the Greek nay-sayers I ask you to reconsider.  And for those interested in Greek life, I suggest you go for it.

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