There are a lot of negative perceptions out there about Greek Life. Where do they come from? Well, there are TV shows that portray Greek students as the party animals. The ABC Family show “Greek” was entertaining, but those students did more partying in one ten episode season than most students do in four years. There are movies. I don’t really need to say much more here than “Animal House”. Sometimes the negative perceptions can come from a student’s family. Their parents might not have gone to college so they rely on these images in the media. Or worse, a parent might have had a terrible experience from their days in college when there were many more unregulated local Greek organizations.
What does this mean? Many students come to college with a pretty firm decision on if they are going to go Greek or not. As a Student Activities or Greek Coordinator (or whatever your institution may call your role that involves working with fraternities and sororities) it means we have to work harder if we want students to join for the right reasons.
Before I was a member of a Greek organization, I always spoke positively about what Greek students did on my campus during my time as a tour guide. Was I lying? No. I honestly didn’t hear many bad things about the Greek organizations. Sure, sometimes a person would make a joke about one, but it was clear that they were jokes. Even during my tours, we’d routinely see brothers or sisters running a philanthropy event in the middle of campus. Little did I know how much service work these organizations do.
Many organizations have one or two large philanthropic events per year and that is what the public sees. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but there is a TON of time dedicated “behind the scenes” to planning that one event. I wound up being the person in charge of one of our major events (we did three) and I honestly spent a year planning it (and about a month recovering). In addition to the three major events we ran, we participated in other chapter’s service events and off campus events that weren’t associated with any Greek organization. Also, sometimes sisters would bring smaller service projects in. I remember helping clean a local playground one fall. A pledge sister asked us to participate in a walk that was a fundraiser for research for a disease a relative had. Nearly the entire chapter showed up – even though it was the morning after formal! The year after my grandmother was moved into a nursing home, I asked the sisters to make cards for the residents. Another sister and I delivered them over the winter break.
As a Greek Advisor (or insert title here), you should be proud of your students accomplishments. Post them on your webpage, Facebook, Twitter, blog, whatever you have. For larger events, submit releases to the local paper or TV station. Advertise events in the school paper or radio. When I was running our major event, a sister contacted the local news and they came! Last year my students raised DOUBLE the amount they normally did during one event. I posted it all over my Facebook and twitter and so did my students, but we could have and SHOULD HAVE done more. This year, I’m make a separate section of our Greek Life website be dedicated to “Good News”.
How do you boast about your students’ accomplishments? How do students, staff, and faculty on your campus perceive Greek Life?