By Arianna LaMarca | Staff Writer
In the past few years, university Greek life has come under fire across the country. Greek life conduct incidents have become so prevalent that Bloomberg Business even compiled a list of 2015's mishaps, citing 133 chapter incidents in the spring of 2015 alone. Fraternities and sororities make easy targets--the stereotype of booze-soaked, chaos-causing undergraduates invoked by classics like "Animal House" is tough to shake.
However, the sense of community and spirit invoked by such organizations is hard to deny. It's easy to write off sororities as an amalgamation of catty, superficial party girls, yet for most, the Greek community provides an incredible support system of like-minded individuals. This shared value system and supportive community often acts as a life raft through rough college waters.
Madison Melo, a junior and year-long member of Beta Lambda at UoR, describes her experience as beyond positive. "You get a pretty bad rep, being in Greek life. People think you join just to party or whatever," she says. "But for me, I think I used to turn to partying a lot to solve a lot of my issues, and now I have this supportive group of women around me. . . and I'm a lot happier as a person, I think I've grown a lot as a person."
In regards to the Greek community as a whole, Melo has found Redlands unique, citing group events like their biannual Lipsync as evidence of a ". . .supportive, dynamic group that works really well together."
Her sentiments are echoed by junior Nelson Jones, a semester-long member of Chi Sigma Chi. He also cites the supportive community as an enormous benefit. "No matter what you’re going through, someone has been through it and can help you. And if no one has, they’re there to help you through."
Beyond a support group, Greek life fortifies the college student for post-grad life. Both interviewees have gained useful networking and social skills in their interactions with one another and with their alumni. In addition, they both mention alumni as a resource that they can utilize long after graduation.
Some may scoff at the notion, given that the University of Redlands Greek life system is merely local and thus does not have resources outside of Redlands. In some ways, however, this makes the alumni connection all the more potent. Greek life community members have a more specific shared experience--not only that of the fraternity or sorority, but also that of the University.
Madison Melo already claims confidence in her alumni base, stating that she "has been helped on personal levels by a few, especially regarding [her] honors research." Greek organizations also make sizable contributions outside of campus life, bringing in large donations for events like the annual Relay for Life and contributing countless volunteer hours within the community.
Again, it's far too simple to write off Greek life as a useless college tradition. Looking beyond the stereotypes, be they personal or media, is an important lesson of the college experience. The Greek system brings the community together, fostering within it meaningful, long-term relationships--another important facet of adult life. Even beyond the relationships, its positive effects ripple outwards to benefit the campus and the outside community. Next rush season, take a closer look--you might just find a like-minded community out there waiting for you.