Henry: The greek community deserves a little more respect


Photo: Emily Harmon/Iowa State Daily

Members of the greek community perform Friday, March 30, at Stephens Auditorium during the Lip Sync finals. The night also included the three karaoke finalists.

Katie Henry

How much do you know about the greek community? Do you refer to it as the greek system or sorority girls and frat guys? Maybe you don’t know a lot about Iowa State’s greek community or simply don’t care. Maybe, for some reason, you think that Iowa State’s greek community isn’t worth any attention. What’s most frustrating is when people make judgments about the greek community without taking the time to know what we’re all about.

After spending almost four years in the greek community, I’ve heard all the stereotypes. I know all the stigmas that surround sororities and fraternities. We’re accused of not caring about academics, being superficial, being partiers, et cetera. I’m proud to say that in all of my time in my sorority, I’ve never felt this way about my chapter, nor any other chapter in Iowa State’s greek community.

There are more than fifty greek chapters at Iowa State. Each chapter has different values and history that makes each organization unique. Although these organizations all have unique qualities, the core values and missions of each chapter are the same: creating opportunities to build strong leaders with the support of your brothers and sisters in your organization. These values are centered around the four pillars of the greek community: friendship, philanthropy, academics, and leadership.

Each greek chapter is supported by a national organization which supports all other chapters of that same organization across the country. Nationally, over 85 percent of student leaders on college campuses are members of a fraternity and sorority at their school.

First and foremost, academics is the main reason why we’re in college. Academics are a priority for each greek organization. Most chapters have benchmark GPAs that members must have in order to join as well as maintain good standing within the chapter. In addition to those standards that each chapter sets, they have academic excellence programs to keep members accountable for grades and to offer resources such as study groups, tutoring, et cetera.

Some argue that membership in a greek organization builds barriers between the greek community and the rest of campus. However, being a part of campus organizations, as the greek community promotes, encourages students to network with students all over campus. Greek students are involved in organizations such as Dub H, VEISHEA Committees, Iowa State publications, musical ensembles, as well as many others.

Iowa State’s fraternities and sororities are governed by the Interfraternity Council, the Collegiate Panhellenic Council, the Multicultural Greek Council, and the National Panhellenic Council. These councils are run by student leaders and advised by staff in the Greek Affairs office. These councils offer greek students to pursue leadership positions outside of their own chapters.

Each February, these four councils have traveled to the Association of Fraternal Leadership and Values conference to network with greek leaders across the Midwest and bring programming ideas back to Iowa State’s greek community. Iowa State’s greek councils have also received the Jellison and Sutherland awards at this conference, which recognize excellence in greek community leaders.

As far as alcohol is concerned, this is college. There’s going to be drinking in all campus groups. As far as pressuring our brothers and sisters to take part, that’s not what we’re about. College is about making your own choices, and whether that’s something you choose to engage in, you won’t find pressure from anybody in your chapter. If you’re going to associate the entire greek community with engaging in partying behavior, you need put the rest of campus underneath that umbrella as well.

Greek students devote time to philanthropies connected to their own organizations, as well as on the Iowa State campus. Each chapter has a philanthropy that they support through events they put on each semester. Students are also highly involved with philanthropies on campus, especially Dance Marathon. Out of the 17 executive committee members for Dance Marathon 2013, 11 were members of the greek community.

The best social opportunities come from getting to know other sororities and fraternities in the greek community. Whether it’s an intense game of dodgeball or participating in Homecoming and Greek Week activities, there are so many opportunities to be able to make friends outside of your chapter. We don’t compete to be better than anybody else (except for a little friendly competition during Greek Olympics) because we know that each chapter is fantastic for its own reasons.

This isn’t about pressuring anybody into going greek. Being greek may not be for everyone, but for the people who do choose to join a fraternity or sorority, it’s one of the many ways we can choose to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Recognize the hard work that goes into philanthropies, academics, and maintaining relationships with our brothers, sisters, and other greek friends. Don’t rely on stereotypes and stigmas before you know the real deal.


Katie Henry is a senior in journalism and political science from Pella, Iowa.