Greek System Offers Influence

Modern culture projects certain stereotypes and images of the Greek system. Movies like “Animal House” and “House Bunny” have instilled the images of alcohol use and low academic success but for some recent alumni these images couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Alumnus Kennedy Gilbert, member of Lambda Chi Alpha (ΛΧΑ) at Washington State University, said he became interested in joining a fraternity because he knew many others who would also be joining.

“What peaked my interest in fraternities was my friends. I knew a lot of Puyallup alumni who had joined and it seemed like an experience I would enjoy,” Gilbert said.

Emily Pierson, 2017 graduate, joined Kappa Kappa Gamma at Washington State University as a freshman. Pierson says she joined so she could have people that cared for her away from home. Similar to Gilbert, Pierson knows people that joined at the university she attends.

“I decided to join the Greek system because I wanted to be a part of a social organization at college and knew the importance of having a group of friends and a support system away from home. I also knew several people in the Greek system and heard how much they enjoyed it,” Pierson said.

Pierson attributes her involvement in the Greek system to her family.

“My dad was in the Greek system in the ‘80s and I had a chance to learn early on of the advantages of being involved with something larger than yourself. I also believe that each house is an institution unto itself and has similarities to a possible job setting in the future,” Pierson said. “Each member has their areas of responsibilities and are accountable for not only their responsibilities but for themselves by upholding the values of their house. These are great attributes to take with you when you leave college.”

Also becoming interested early on about joining the Greek system from a family member, Sierra Barrow, 2017 graduate attending University of San Francisco, learned what it was like to be a part of a sorority from her sister telling her stories.

“Growing up, my older sister joined Delta Gamma at the University of Idaho. I would love to hear her stories of being away at school and living in her sorority house. It was always something I had looked forward to as she always talked about how amazing it was. I knew it would be a great way to find meaningful friendships and a community while away from home in San Francisco,” Barrow said.

For those interested in joining a fraternity, Gilbert shares what a typical day is like.

“We house 55 live-in members so there’s always someone to hang out with. We find a good balance between work and play especially on the weekends,” Gilbert said.

Barrow tells what her sorority is like from her position as a more involved member, as well as a member that holds a position.

“Sororities are what you make of it. Each organization has different levels of involvement from its members. Some girls are on the Executive Board and work within the sorority each day and some girls are general members who show up to chapter on Mondays and go to the events throughout the semester,” Barrow said.  “I happen to be one of the more involved members. Each morning I check my email for my position, answer any messages and work on the current tasks that I have. I always make time to see my sisters and hangout.”

Pierson says she loves being in a sorority because she loves having her friends with her through difficult situations.

“What I love the most about being in a sorority is that whenever I need someone to lift me up, they are there for me. Each day in college life is different and has its challenges. Some days those challenges seem to be more than you can tolerate. Knowing that you need to work through it, my friends within the sorority allow me to feel confident, as they are having the same experiences,” Pierson said.

The Greek system has been a part of many colleges for years. With the years comes different traditions that will be passed onto the younger generations.

“One of my favorite traditions is serenades. Serenades are at the end of Homecoming Week and every fraternity dresses up in full formal attire and goes to every sorority and serenades them at 3 a.m. in hopes they will choose us for next year’s partners,” Gilbert said.

With traditions come fond memories. Pierson shares her favorite memory as the time she received her little sisters.

“A memory that I love is big/little. This is the day I received my two little sisters. Most people only have one but I have twins. These are girls in the pledge class below me and for the rest of my life I will be their counselor and coach. My duty is to be there for them to work through their experiences. There are many special relationships you create when in a sorority but your duty to your little sisters is everlasting,” Pierson said.

Similar to Pierson, Barrow’s favorite memory is big/little but instead of receiving a little, Barrow was the little.

“My favorite memory has been getting my big [sister]. She’s like a mentor to me and her guidance and friendship has been amazing to have so far in college. She’s really helped me grow into a better, more successful woman and I’m so grateful for that,” Barrow said.

According to Gilbert, the Greek system has its misconceptions but they are not true.

“Some misconceptions about the Greek system is that all we do is party. This could not be more wrong. Every house on Greek row does some sort of philanthropy event that raises money for different charities. Ours is Watermelon Bust, which is a food drive for Feeding America. We also do lots of community service and mainly focus on school,” Gilbert said.

Although there are people who have their own beliefs about the Greek system, Barrow believes that everyone should keep an open mind about joining.

“I would tell them to keep an open mind. To not choose an organization just because they think it will make them popular. To know they aren’t going to be liked by everyone in their sorority and also to make sure they are prepared for a huge monetary and time commitment,” Barrow said.

Pierson believes that if anyone is interested in joining the Greek system, they should try it out because everyone belongs.

“I would tell anyone that is going to college where there is a Greek system to try it out. There are so many benefits to it and I truly believe that there is a chapter for everyone,” Pierson said.