Coming to UF as a freshman and seeing all the amazing opportunities that are offered can be somewhat overwhelming. Some students look to make their campus experience more intimate by joining different organizations, including Greek Life. Students join Greek organizations for so many diverse reasons, but everyone stays because they find a way to belong. “I wanted to join a sorority so I could be a part of something great,” says sophomore Becca Kiriazes, a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. “I have become so close to so many amazing girls, and I know that I will always have someone I trust to talk to.”
Claire Boutwell agrees, noting “my favorite things are the girls I’ve met not only within my own sorority but within the Pan[Hellenic] community. I have had so many amazing experiences with my sorority and with being Greek.” The Greek community works to foster strong relationships among the chapters as well as within each chapter, with a positive hope for everyone to succeed.
Not everyone goes through formal recruitment into a Greek organization, though. This year, a new sorority came to the University of Florida and began the colony process. To form a new chapter of a sorority or a fraternity at a new school, the organization’s National Headquarters sends in a leadership team that recruits new members and helps them organize themselves and understand the importance of the organization.
This semester, Mary Sullivan joined the colony of Gamma Phi Beta here at UF. “My family and friends are all in sororities,” she commented, “but I never really wanted to take the time away from my summer break to go through regular sorority recruitment. When I learned that Gamma Phi Beta was colonizing UF, I knew it would be a wonderful opportunity. I joined to meet new girls and surround myself with an amazing group of unique individuals. Even though we have not known each other long, I have already formed lasting friendships and I cannot wait to see what the next three years have to offer.”
Another important aspect of being a part of the Greek community is philanthropy. Each sorority and fraternity has their own specific causes they support, but the entire Greek community comes together to support other causes important to the entire university as well. One such cause is Dance Marathon. Every year, Dance Marathon is a huge event at UF, with hundreds of students standing for 26.2 hours to raise money for the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals. Like all large organizations on campus, Greek chapters form a team of dancers and encourage all their members to support their dancers or contribute to the success of Dance Marathon in any way they are able.
“Dance Marathon had such an amazing atmosphere last year. I did not dance, but I went to support my sisters and friends who did, and it was amazing to see all the planning and hard work that went into the event. During the closing ceremony when they announced the total amount of money we raised, I definitely got goosebumps, and some people around me were even crying,” remembers Becca Kiriazes.
Being in a Greek organization creates a strong sense of belonging that is very attractive to its members. “My favorite things about my fraternity are the clichéd brotherhood aspect and the strong academics as a whole,” says Brandon Barnett, a sophomore in Beta Theta Pi fraternity.
Some skeptics of the Greek system may question the ability to maintain strong academics while being in a fraternity or a sorority, but this is an unnecessary concern. According to the university’s website for student involvement, the all Greek GPA for the spring 2014 semester was higher than the average GPA of the entire university. The differences become even more noticeable when broken down by Greek council and by chapter.
“I know that I will always have someone to study with,” remarks Becca Kiriazes. “I love having older sisters who have taken the classes I am in now so they can tutor me and give me advice on my schedule and classes.”
Along with academic help, having a network of older students who care about your success on campus has other advantages. “My favorite things about being in a fraternity are always having someone to talk to at any time about anything and the networking opportunities,” says Chi Phi fraternity member Nick Natural.
Older sisters or brothers are an invaluable resources, as are mentors in basically any organization or field in life. Within the Greek community, all the support is invaluable and a great reason to want to join a Greek organization. “Even though I only joined my chapter this semester, I could not imagine my life without it,” finishes Mary Sullivan. “I have grown as a person by being able to help others through our community service, and my sisters inspire me to become a better person every day.”