Guest blogger Michelle Kemper Brownlow: Just in time for parents heading off for the annual college-move-in week, I wrote a post about the risks of pledging a Greek organization. Apparently my post came across as Greek-bashing, even though I prefaced my warnings with the positive experiences I'd had while pledging a sorority. So I thought I would now take off my "Cautious Mom" hat and put on my "Proud to be Greek" one. (This one is prettier anyway, and goes well with the letters on the sorority sweatshirt I still wear.)
Greek organizations have been around since 1825 and have a long history of service and philanthropy. There is no doubt that all members of these organizations participate in the hours of planning it takes to pull off one of their monstrous charity projects. Most fraternities and sororities have one charity that they support as an organization, but many pair up for numerous fundraising events throughout the school year.
Penn State's annual dance marathon is the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. Just last year, the Greek organizations involved in fundraising collected a mindblowing $7,838,054.36 for The Four Diamonds Fund, which supports the Hershey Medical Center's Childhood Cancer research efforts. Nationally, Greeks provide the largest network of volunteers in the United States and contribute 10 million hours of volunteer service each year.
The website of Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania says going Greek "provides a host of benefits, including the opportunity to develop and refine leadership skills, participate in local community service and national philanthropic projects and form lifelong friendships within an inter/national brotherhood or sisterhood. Members of the Greek system can boast of involvement in practically every facet of campus life and support many campus initiatives. The Greek system strives to provide for its members' growth-oriented opportunities and experiences that are consistent with the mission of the College."
Each sorority and fraternity has a governmental subculture within its organization. Students learn skills that will benefit them as they hold office, manage projects and climb the corporate ladder in the "real" world.
I would be remiss if I didn't toot the "lifelong friend" horn. I have to believe that when you work so closely in volunteer and service situations (as you do in Greek life), you create bonds that truly feel like family; hence the "brother" and "sister" titles. I can't imagine what college life would have been like if I hadn't had 100+ women my age to fall back on when no one else was around -- women who had the same goals and virtues I had, and whom I could trust with anything. Truth be told, being a member of a Greek organization was SO FREAKING FUN! The opportunity to do so many positive things and be a part of all the social aspects was the best of both worlds.
If your son or daughter is a responsible young adult, he or she will benefit immensely from the experience of going Greek!