Brothers and sisters came together last week to participate in sporting events and night showcases while celebrating Greek life.
Keene State College junior and president of Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity Austen Leone said that Greek Week encourages the different Greek life organizations to step outside their individual groups. “The main purpose is to bring us all together as a whole community,” Leone said. “Greek week is a great way to get to know people from other organizations.”
Leone continued to explain that, for as close as they are, Greek life members don’t usually form relationships beyond friendships. “A lot of people actually recommend not dating within Greek life because it’s such a tight knit community; a lot of people think it’s best just to date outside [of the organization],” he explained.
Leone said that these friendships do last, and one way of showing appreciation is through giving a decorated paddle from one member to another. He said that they can be given either from a ‘big’ (a Greek life member who is a mentor) to a ‘little’ (a new member) or vice versa.
KSC sophomore and Delta Phi Epsilon member Meghan Robb said that the paddles can represent different milestones or celebrations in a member’s life.
“Like for your…birthday; they’re used as gifts,” she said.
Robb continued, “They’re very customized. Your little really makes it to fit your personality.”
Another member, KSC junior Elizabeth Truesdell, said that giving these paddles has been an exciting tradition. “On the front of it, you write your big sister’s name [and] you can decorate it any way,” she said. Truesdell explained that it’s a sentimental way for a ‘little’ to show their appreciation since their ‘big’ is a mentor forever.
In regard to how a ‘big’ and a ‘little’ are matched up, Truesdell said it’s really a matter between each individual sorority and fraternity.
“I guess it’s just chosen by who has a connection,” she said.
Truesdell explained that no one gets left out. Every new member always gets a big and “they’re definitely kept forever,” she said.
KSC sophomore and non-Greek-life member Maxine Gray said that she can understand why a person would want to join a fraternity or sorority.
“I know a lot of people may have more trouble making friends on their own, so they want to be part of a group,” she said.
Gray said for her personally, it’s not something she wants to partake in. “It looks super time consuming,” she explained.
She also said she was hesitant to joining a group she associated with “drinking and partying.” However, Gray said that she thinks that might not be necessarily true of all KSC Greek life.
“Here I think it’s different than most schools,” she said. “I know a lot of sororities and frats [from other schools] do volunteer work; they don’t seem as intense as other schools.” Truesdell said she sees KSC Greek life members actively promoting goodwill on campus with different tables showing charities they are actively involved with.
Coordinator of Fraternity/Sorority Life and Student Leadership Brandon Mathieu said that KSC’s Greek life organizations do over 400 hours of volunteer work and are academically motivated.
“The all-Greek GPA on campus is higher than the all-men, the all-woman and the all-campus GPA,” Mathieu said.
He continued, “I think these…are really great things to boast about, and I think that sometimes the negative stereotypes overshadowed [these things].”
Mathieu said that this conversation should be made time and time again in order to dispel these negative stereotypes such as hazing and drinking.
“I think that unfortunately students that are in the Greek letter organizations generally face negative stereotypes…It’s just because of generalization,” he explained.
Mathieu said that, in most cases, the outcomes are more positive than negative.
He explained that Greek life organizations can help a student find “leadership development opportunities, networking [and] connections for life after college.”
In addition, Mathieu said that being involved in Greek life helps students have security within the school.
“As with any student organization and establishment [within] the institution, I think it creates a better opportunity for a student to stay at the institution versus transferring out,” Mathieu said.
Mathieu said that another factor that makes Greek life special is the impact of philanthropy the organizations and Greek life alumni are involved with. “Research has shown that Greek alumni typically are the highest donors back to their institution,” he said.
Mathieu explained that this was because of the experience Greek life provided and how they show their appreciation.
“They try to get involved and create scholarships,” he said.
Mathieu said that Greek Week is all about celebrating these different accomplishments. He explained, “It’s really just to kind of highlight all the successes that each organization and each individual student had over the course of the year.”
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org