By Leah Mellett ’18
In popular culture, “Greek life” is often depicted as being nothing more than loud parties, polo shirts, and excessive alcohol consumption. Sorority members are frequently portrayed as “basic” mean girls, while fraternity brothers are depicted as athletic and self-centered.
We reached out to the presidents of each Greek organization on campus and asked them to discuss the reality of what it means to be part of Greek life at Beloit. Their answers suggest that in many ways, Greek life here is unconventional and contrary to the images displayed in the media.
Approximately 25% of campus is involved in Greek life, but Greek life does not dominate student life at Beloit like it does on some universities’ campuses. Plus, not all members of certain fraternities or sororities identify as men or women.
“We are everywhere on campus, and people don’t realize it because most of us do not fit the [description of a] ‘stereotypical Greek person.’”
“You don’t necessarily know who is and who isn’t a part of Greek life at Beloit. People didn’t even know I was a part of Greek Life until I wore my letters to class one day, and they were surprised that ‘a girl like me’ would be a member of a sorority, whatever that meant.”
Even so, the mere presence of Greek life at Beloit can lead some to mistakenly believe that those who don letters are sucked into a “bubble.” While each Greek organization on campus does reside in their own house on College Street, this doesn’t mean that members isolate themselves from the rest of campus or the surrounding community.
“They think that [Greek Life] is separate from the rest of campus.”
“They think that we’re cliquey and that we only hang out with one another. Sure, I have some of my closest friends in my sorority, but I also have other close friends who aren’t part of my chapter, or Greek Life at all.”
Greek members are like just any other typical Beloit student and are involved with many different extracurricular activities.
We are “TAs, tutors, researchers, sustained dialogue members/moderators” as well as “activists, work-study students, and athletes” who are “involved in other organizations such as SPIEL, Anthropology Club, [and] SAGA….”
Despite active campus involvement, Beloit Greek members can be typecast as heavy partyers. However, due to national rules and regulations, not all Greek houses are authorized to throw parties, and drinking at parties is not allowed.
Most Greek organizations actually require members to be involved in community service, and chapters will annually support nationally affiliated causes.
“[We have] some of the best connections in order to do community service, and I don’t think [most of] campus realizes that!”
“We do our yearly St. Baldrick’s event where we raise money (our first year we raised over 7000 dollars) to support cancer research. We also volunteer with the Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin, where we put up posters for events and go to the shelter and volunteer our time there (some of us weekly).”
“We have a few members involved in SARP, others who volunteer in their own communities at home, and many who work with Todd Elementary as well.”
Unfortunately, sometimes the negative connotations of Greek life can result in under-publicized, under-attended, or under-funded philanthropic events.
“Every spring we have Shamrock Week…full of fun events to help fundraise for Prevent Child Abuse America. Campus isn’t as hyped up about it as we’d like…and I think it’s because once people hear that it’s associated with our sorority, they inflict their own biases on our fundraiser, even if it’s for a good cause. It can be extremely disappointing.”
Hopefully, this piece has helped you to reexamine your own opinions about Greek life, and luckily, there are several events this upcoming Saturday in which you can support your fellow Beloiters as they raise money and awareness for local causes:
“The Humane Society Dog Walk, Saturday, October 7th, in Riverside Park at 9 a.m.”
“Mr. Beloit, a fun mock pageant to raise money for the Fatherhood Initiative, a program dedicated to helping adjudicated fathers find jobs and develop parenting skills. It’s in Wilson Theater at 7 p.m. on October 7th. There is a $1 entrance fee, and you can purchase raffle tickets to win some great prizes while you’re there!”