By Katheryn Bourne, Staff Writer–
As the fall semester begins, students file onto campus with bright eyes and hopeful expectations of what the new year will bring. Clubs and organizations scramble to get their mission statements out as the hundreds of possibilities disguised as students flood into the courtyards. One such organization is not like the others, in image or enthusiasm.
Greek life on the UTC campus is once again thriving this year, but it might not be quite what meets the eye. When greeting the smiling faces of sorority and fraternity members on the front lines during Welcome Week, these patient students wait at tables covered with banners or flowers, excitedly greeting everyone who walks by.
Events and meetings continue throughout the beginning of the semester, beckoning curious students to learn more. While membership to these organizations is not small, skepticism about Greek organizations and hesitancy to pledge means many students don’t know much about them.
Graduate Assistant for Fraternity and Sorority Life Office of Student and Family Engagement Lynn Tran was one such student. She recalls not knowing much about Greek organizations at UTC and how she came to be involved with them.
“I [had] always been super involved during high school…so I wanted to be as involved again once I came to [my college] campus. I did not think I was “sorority material” so I did not bother with signing up for recruitment,” Tran said. “One day, I noticed that a group of women wearing pink were handing out free Popsicles (I am a sucker for free things), so I went over to have a chat and the rest is history!”
Tran also commented on what she perceives might be the reason that some students may have conflicting views of Greek organizations. She encourages those who are curious about sorority and fraternity life to do research and discover for themselves what these organizations offer.
“I think the media portrays Greek Life different from what we see on a day to day basis. There is a lot more to these students than an Instagram post; these students are driven and passionate,” she said.
Involvements outside of the bubble of UTC is also evident in the activities of these groups. According to Fraternity and Sorority Reports and Statistics, UTC’s Greek chapters have completed a total of 33,038 hours of community service and donated $243,878 to national and community organizations between 2018 and 2019. Some of the community outreach partners include the Ronald McDonald House, the National Lupus Foundation, and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
Despite the pride Greek groups have regarding their philanthropy and charity, the stereotype of secret codes and hidden hallways associated with fraternities and sororities may persist in the minds of some students. When discussing the assumption of secrecy within Greek groups, the topic of bid night is one that is discussed often. Tran wants to dispel any skepticism.
“Bid Day is such an exciting day. There is not anything secretive that happens. It is as simple as men and women opening their bids and running home to their new brothers and sisters,” she said.
Life can be full of busy schedules and desks covered with career plans, homework, job applications, social media, and many other looming responsibilities. Greek life, according to Tran, offers a way to feel accepted and better oneself with others.
“I find these groups important because it provides a home away from home for a lot of our students. Change can be hard, and we all need a friend to experience new things with,” she said. “The opportunities in Greek Life are endless. Students can hold leadership positions, attend national conferences, and learn a lot of valuable life lessons.”
Information about joining a Greek organization can be found online at Fraternity and Sorority Life on UTC.edu or by visiting the Office of the Dean of Students.