During the time that I spent training and serving as a Ram Welcome Leader for the incoming first-year students, I had the opportunity to connect with and work alongside students who are members of various Colorado State organizations. Among those were many students affiliated with Fraternity and Sorority Life (previously known as Greek Life), which is an aspect of the University that I have had limited interaction with up until Ram Welcome week.
I previously had mostly negative opinions of the fraternity and sorority scene based on stories I had heard and because of one or two experiences with individuals or small groups who poorly represented their chapter. The wonderful thing about opinions though, is that they can be changed.
Are sororities and fraternities really as terrible as many students tend to believe, or are the current views and stereotypes surrounding them rooted in issues of the past and premature generalizations?
A lot of students find that that joining a sorority or a fraternity is a perfect fit for them and they stand to gain a lot from the experience. For others, it is not a good match for a variety of reasons. We all have different socializing strengths and weaknesses, and some prefer the constant sense of togetherness while others find comfort in their independence.
It is easy to feel more respect for the University’s Panhellenic chapters after spending four long days of Ram Welcome with some of the amazing individuals who represent them, but I used to be skeptical of the idea that I could get along with a sorority girl, or my roommate’s boyfriend and his frat brothers. I was wrong, and like many other students, I had let ill-informed judgments and unconfirmed rumors overrule the possibility of having anything in common with members of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
My Ram Welcome partner Elle Holbrook is affiliated with a sorority, and we worked together really effectively and successfully built upon each other’s ideas and energy. I had the chance to shift my opinions of Fraternity and Sorority Life after making wonderful connections with fellow students from various chapters.
Holbrook says that “People tend to hold on to things that have happened in the past, and that prevents them from seeing what our community is like today. That can be a real detriment to Fraternity and Sorority Life … Being involved in our organizations is about so much more than those isolated incidents.”
It is true that there have been instances of inappropriate behavior among those who are part of the CSU Greek culture, and that kind of news travels fast. That being said, new generations of pledges and members should not be punished for the past. People tend to focus on the negatives, but the “live and let live” rule has no exclusions. Instead, incoming members of a sorority or fraternity should be encouraged to improve the image and to find confidence and camaraderie in a fresh start.
College is about finding your place and creating fulfilling experiences with those around you, and for many students that place exists within Fraternity and Sorority Life. Colorado State boasts more that 500 student organizations and involvement opportunities, which goes to show that our differences might just be what makes our University such a welcoming and open-minded institution.
When we, as students, say that we are proud to be CSU Rams, it means we take pride in every aspect of our school and everyone who contributes to the diversity of interests and personal identities. We do not solely believe in the athletics or the academics; we do not degrade organizations just because they may not be personally relevant. We have to believe in the CSU community as a whole, and all of the unique groups and individuals that foster its growth.
Collegian Columnist Haleigh McGill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @HaleighMcGill.