Being “Greek.” Alcohol, sex, and low grade point averages. We think of raging parties that are busted by the cops. The women are provocative and cruel, degrading anyone that they feel is below them. We hear of pledges drinking until they pass out, or forced to points of humiliation to become a brother or sister. These types of people, the social Greeks, have to pay for their friends. “Fat, drunk, and stupid” best describes them, as said in the 1978 film Animal House.
What about respect? There is the encouragement of unity, development of friendships, ethical principles, the pursuit of knowledge, and leadership. In all the social fraternities and sororities on campus, each has a mission statement that stresses at least one of these aspects.
Marist College fraternities and sororities want to prove that they are not only focused on a life of partying like it is believed to be by many students, and as it is represented by in the media. As a member of Greek Life, I recognize that Marist College Greek Life wants to prove that they are above the stereotypes and truly care about the community. Members of the fraternities and sororities on campus are trying to battle the stigma and preconceived notions.
Most Greeks on campus can describe their organizations as a solid group of people used as a support system, despite its small population of less than 1% of the student body. According to senior Christie Ciserano, a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, the members of her sorority can help with advice ranging from academics to the social aspects of one’s life. The fraternities and sororities encourage involvement in their organizations and the improvement of social skills and group working. Greek organizations also strongly encourage leadership opportunities with various positions within their chapter along with its national stage of the organization.
“People should know that being Greek hellps foster development of essential social skills along with motivation to do well academically,” said freshman Alex Williams, a member of Theta Delta Chi. The grade point average to be a member of a sorority or a fraternity is a minimum of 2.5.
Those who are members of Greek Life hold to the principles and morals of their fraternities and sororities, not just in college but throughout their entire lives. There are statistics that show this philosophy, such as 63% of the U.S. President’s Cabinet since 1900 have been in a fraternity or sorority. Out of the 50 largest corporations, 43 are headed by Greek members.
“People need to look past the cliche`,” said Ciserano. “You’re a member not only for four years, but for life.”
According to freshman Melanie Wohr, a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma, she had always wanted to join a sorority. Wohr said that the people she knew that were in it, even if they graduated, truly cared for their sororities.
“Being Greek means being a part of something that means a lot to you, it’s a special bond between the girls,” said Wohr. “My love for it will keep growing.”
In order to present a united front to the school, all of the social Greek organizations on campus, Alpha Phi Delta, Alpha Sigma Tau, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Kappa Lambda Psi, Theta Delta Chi, and Sigma Sigma Sigma, send delegates to a Greek Council. At Greek Council, the members discuss how Greek Life, as a whole, can promote unity and involvement on campus. According to the Greek Advisor, Director of Student Conduct Christine Nadeau-Pupek, Greek Life at Marist has the potential to promote school spirit. The fraternities and sororities offer a place for students to feel like they belong, grants them networking opportunities, and encourages involvement in campus and community affairs.
According to Nadeau-Pupek, the best thing for the Greek community at Marist is not necessarily found their own philanthropies on campus, but to instead support the already existing ones. All of the fraternities and sororities on campus are involved with Relay for Life, with the top three contributors for the event this year being Alpha Sigma Tau, Theta Delta Chi, and Sigma Sigma Sigma.
Alpha Phi Delta and Kappa Lambda Psi also host a Blood Drive together on campus every year. Sigma Sigma Sigma also participates in an adopt-a-highway program. Each organization also abides to their national philanthropy. Kappa Kappa Gamma’s national philanthropy is Reading is Fundamental and they have collected books to promote literacy. They have also read to local children in the past.
“Greeks on campus not only get involved in the Marist community, but also in the Dutchess County community,” said Nadeau-Pupek. “It’s not what can Greek life do for you, but what you can do for Greek life.”
Despite the attempts of the fraternities and sororities, many students still do not know much about Marist Greek Life.
“I don’t think people know the extend to which Greeks are involved,” said freshman Allie Loesch. “they need more publicity.”
Without a large Greek population, lingering stereotypes, and no represented sorority houses on campus (seven or more woman living in a house together is considered a brothel in the City of Poughkeepsie), the members of fraternities and sororities find it difficult to truly extend Greek life and their missions. According to Ciserano, she believes that Marist does not give Greek life a reputable presentation because of its small size and its poor reputation in the media. In recent years though, Greek life has grown slightly, but it is still small compared to most colleges.
Despite these fallbacks, Greeks are determined to represent their organizations. Every Wednesday, members of the fraternities and sororities wear their organizations’ letters to promote unification. They also encourage members to wear their Greek letters to school events and games. Ciserano said they try to do what they can, but that they are always looking for better ways to improve themselves and prove unity to the community.
“People at Marist need to be more lenient and look past the stereotypes,” said Ciserano.
In March, Brian Johnson from Campus Speaks gave a presentation titled The Reel Greek. All the Greek organizations were represented as Johnson displayed various clips from films displaying Greek Life, such as Old School and Animal House. Johnson then provoked discussion inorder to explore the Greek community’s image, reputation, and ability to recruit.
“It is up to us Greeks to squash the stereotype,” said Johnson.
According to Ciserano, the fraternities and sororities on campus try to work together to show Marist students and faculty that they are not about partying and hazing. They want to show a united front in Marist. One way they do so is with Greek Week, which occurs annually and always ends on Relay for Life. During Greek Week, the fraternities and sororities have friendly competitions in various events, such as a wings eating contest, volleyball, 3-legged race, and flag football. There is also a talent show during the middle of the week performed by each organization. The show usually displays forms of Greek unity and ties in the theme each year, this year being Super Greeks.
During the eek there are boards promoting Greek Week that are created by all the organizations. The boards hang in the Champagnat Breezeway. This is the first year that the boards were displayed Monday of the week, as opposed to Wednesday. They wanted to advertise Greek Week earlier this year to the student body at Marist.
“They can use Greek Week as a way to promote unity, but also as a form of recruitment to the students who are unaware about Greek Life here at Marist,” said Nadeau-Pupek.
Marist College fraternities and sororities hope that the students and faculty members can recognize how much they put into the community and how involved the try to be. Fraternities and sororities overall want o show that they are more than just a party scene, but instead that they are organizations filled with a support system and networking opportunities. Each offers their members opportunities of self-growth and development.
“You become a part of something bigger than yourself,” said Williams.