Going Greek at Utah State
Whether they are aware of it or not, every new student at Utah State University makes a very important decision. That decision is whether or not to join a fraternity or sorority, collectively known as the Greek system.
Joining the Greek system can be one of the most important decisions in a student's life, although many students don't realize that they're making a decision that will last that long. According to Tiffany Evans, USU Greek advisor, many students don't know what the system has to offer, and don't give it a chance.
Randy King, former president of the Inter-fraternal council (IFC) and member of Delta Sigma Phi fraternity, believes that is because of myths students have about fraternities and sororities.
"Most people don't want to join because of the stereotypes, and don't want to be one of those people who buys their friends," King said.
According to King, there are many advantages to being part of the Greek System.
"The leadership opportunities and social skills gained are the biggest advantages, being put into a position of leadership can be really good for someone," King said.
One of the greatest leadership opportunities offered by the Greek System is the Undergraduate Interfraternity Institute (UIFI), a national program offered through the National Interfraternity Conference (NIC). It is offered in 12 one-week sessions every summer. Most students who attend UIFI are given scholarships by their national organizations and universities.
According to the NIC's webpage, found at www.nicindy.org, the program has had almost 4,500 participants from 290 universities across the country.
USU is one of those universities that has helped fraternity and sorority members attend the program, awarding around five scholarships each year to members of the campus's Greek System.
"I am so amazed that people from all over the country and all different affiliations could pull together the way that we did. Not only was this an amazing Greek leadership institute, it was a place for self-discovery and self-evaluation," said Danielle Gardner, a member of the Kappa Delta sorority at USU.
Two years ago, Gardner helped bring a compacted version of UIFI called IMPACT to USU's campus.
Another often-overlooked strength in USU's Greek System is service.
According to Courtney Michaels, president of Panhellenic Council (the governing body of the campus' sororities), philanthropy and service opportunities are prevalent in the Greek System.
"Every fraternity and sorority on campus requires members to be involved in another organization, like the service center, plus each chapter has its own philanthropy," Michaels said.
Fraternities and sororities are responsible for many large-scale fundraisers for different charitable organizations each year. Among the most recent are Kappa Delta's Star Search, which raised about $4,000 for Prevent Child Abuse America; Chi Omega's Chi-O Fest, which raised almost $1,000 for the local Make-a-Wish foundation; and Delta Sigma Phi's Comedy Night, which raised several hundred dollars for the March Of Dimes.
There are a total of nine chapters in the Greek system at USU, five fraternities--Delta Sigma Phi, Pi Kappa Alpha, Sigma Chi, Sigma Nu, and Psi Sigma Phi, and four sororities--Alpha Chi Omega, Chi Omega, Kappa Delta and Theta Nu Xi.
According to Evans, the Greek system at USU is one of the smallest in the country, claiming only 2 percent of the student body. The only other universities with a membership of 2 percent or less are in Utah and Idaho. USU also has one of the lowest number of chapters on their campus.
Those numbers also reflect each individual chapters ratio of members from Utah versus out-of-state members.
Approximately 80 percent of Delta Sigma Phi's members in the past five years have been from outside of Utah. Other chapters show similar trends. The largest percentage of in-state members is Kappa Delta, whose membership is closer to half.
One of the most common misconceptions that many people have about fraternities and sororities is the party image, promoted by popular movies, such as Animal House.
Contrary to the alcohol-abusing stereotype, many national fraternities and sororities now have alcohol-free housing rules. Two USU fraternities have such national policies, Delta Sigma Phi and Sigma Nu.
According to Sigma Nu's website, alcohol is not allowed on chapter property if the chapter's grade-point average falls below that of the all-fraternity average. Delta Sigma Phi's policy is the same, except that the GPA requirements are to be at or above the all-campus average.
Individual universities also have rules about alcohol use for their own Greek Systems. Fraternities and sororities are official university clubs, and they must abide by certain rules to keep their charter with Utah State.
Fraternities have strict rules regarding alcohol and parties. They are not allowed to have any alcohol in common areas of their houses; they can only have it in private bedrooms, which are not allowed to have more than four people and no females when alcohol is present. They are also not allowed to have any alcohol at any parties that are open to the campus. Each fraternity is allowed to have one social event per semester where the members who are 21 or older can have alcohol, but those events must be "by invitation only."
Sororities are not allowed to have any alcohol in their houses at any time, and are not allowed to have parties in their houses.
These rules help USU's Greek houses conform to the conservative image of the university, and to make themselves more attractive to students from Utah.