Student Activities seeks student opinion on offering Greek organizations
January 30, 2017
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The Office of Student Activities offered an online student survey from Jan. 9-13 to gauge the student body’s interest in having sororities at Columbia College.
“We wanted to make sure that we got students’ input as soon as possible so that we can take the input to the Board for them to review,” Emily Fox, director of student activities, said.
The OSA will send a report of the student and staff responses to the Board of Trustees. Fox expects to hear word from the Board soon.
Fox noted that the survey had thoughtful responses from students. She advises students to consider the pros and cons of joining a Greek organization.
Relationships that outlive college
According to Serria Thomas of USA Today, students who pledge a sorority not only make friends within their organization but also connect with the organization as a whole.
“There are students who want to feel a sense of belonging, especially women of color,” Imani Wiley-English, senior music performance major, said. “If we have those sororities here, then we don’t have to depend on other schools. I think that’s really important.”
Sense of belonging
Kenyatta Gilchrist, a senior speech language pathology major, recalls speaking with students as a C’ster and student admissions counselor.
“A lot of students asked about sororities on campus just because it’s a part of the college life and a part of the college experience,” Gilchrist said. “Some students leave Columbia College because they’re looking for maybe not just sororities in general, but just a better campus life.”
Values and accountability
Each Greek organization has a mission statement, and often the mission statements reveal values that the sorority upholds. Often sororities are involved in community service and hold events for their surrounding communities.
Individuals who are members of sororities and fraternities “have leadership potential and goals,” Wiley-English said. “They have a lot of integrity and a lot of pride in their African-American heritage.”
Taneiya Dawkins, junior special education major, did not have family who were members of a Greek organization. However, she recalls performing at a Martin Luther King Jr. event with her step team during high school. She saw sororities and fraternities putting their values into action.
For Dawkins, it was, “Seeing people who look like me give back to the community.”
The camaraderie amongst fraternities and sororities serving their community became what Dawkins aspired to do.
“I have never seen a person in a sorority who doesn’t want to see people do better, or doesn’t strive for greatness or strive for success,” Wiley-English said.
Most sororities have a set GPA for members, and it’s often higher than the institutions’ average, according to Thomas.
There are also negatives to consider for both the college and student body before offering Greek organizations.
Offering sororities on campus costs money for educational institutions and students alike, according to Thomas of USA Today. National dues, t-shirt fees and funds for events are among the costs for students to consider.
Sororities are a time commitment, according to Thomas. Students who join would have to decide how much time to devote to classwork and socializing outside of their organization.
Stereotypes of Greek organizations are prevalent in popular culture and media, according to Thomas. A preconceived idea of a person can be formed by seeing the letters of a sorority.
Students interested should be aware of how Greek organizations are perceived, but also seek to look past them if they are interested in joining, according to Dawkins.
Regardless of one’s stance on Greek organizations, Dawkins and Gilchrist offered advice:
- Do your research. Look into the values about the formation of sororities before dismissing organizations as invaluable to student life. Each sorority has a mission statement on its website. “It’s not something for everybody, but if you do your research and read the mission statements you will know the reason behind sororities and fraternities even existing,” Dawkins said.
- Think about sororities from the perspective of the campus as a whole, according to Gilchrist. “We can see what’s the good and what’s the bad. It may not be for you, but the girl who’s sitting across the cafeteria who really is looking for something to make her stay on this campus, it may be for her. It may not be for you; it may be for someone else. Just think more than just yourself,” Gilchrist said.