Joining a fraternity or sorority in college is a life-changing decision, one of the first “adulting” choices for a college student.
For Jewish college students, there are a variety of fraternities and sororities founded on and committed to Jewish values such as loving thy neighbor, honoring and respecting others, being truthful and finding your piece of the world to make better.
Given the efforts to make college campuses more inclusive, these organizations are critical components to a quality collegiate and fraternal experience. So as you, a Jewish college student, consider whether or not to “Go Greek,” consider some of these Greek experiences and how they connect to your life experiences up until now.
Confronting anti-Semitism and other forms of hate
There’s a lot of tension on campus and in the world today. People with different backgrounds and values may push their beliefs at the expense of others. This happens too often, and being Greek provides an outlet and community for support if it unfortunately occurs on your campus. Learning how to speak up for others is a major piece of growing up and being part of something bigger than yourself.
Promoting intercultural awareness
Similar to the Jewish community’s efforts against hate and discrimination, being Greek opens your eyes to new ways of thinking and learning from a variety of people. You may hear “we’re all Greek together” in your recruitment process; that includes everyone across all fraternities and sororities. Sharing ideas, learning together and simply having fun as college students with people different from you makes you a more well-rounded person.
Exemplifying tzedakah and tikkun olam in programming
Nearly all Greek organizations have partners for which they fundraise and do community service. Greeks raise millions of dollars every year for worthwhile causes, so you can find the ones which best connect with you as part of your recruitment process. Service is also critical — Greeks give back to their college communities and those who may be less fortunate or in need of particular assistance. You can find your way to make the world a better place by being in a Greek organization.
Cultivating healthy relationships and combating sexual violence
Most, if not all, college campuses are making extra efforts to combat sexual assault and dating abuse. Being Greek, you’re held to a higher standard for your behavior, and there are plenty of resources to make you a more informed and responsible young adult. Taking a stand in this area directly connects to the value of loving thy neighbor and supporting those in need.
Life skill development like leadership, financial management and event planning
Greek students have more opportunities for real-world experience than non-Greeks. You learn how to work with a wide range of people, plan events, run meetings and prioritize time. No matter which organization you join, you have the chance to expand your high school youth group experience, challenge yourself and be better prepared for life after college.
Alumni networking and career readiness
College students are always asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and rarely have a solid answer to that question. Being in a Greek organization, you are connected to thousands of alumni around the world in different career paths. These people can come talk at a meeting, be a mentor, write a recommendation, help you find an internship or job and do so much more. Your network grows the more you get involved.
Continued development of brotherhood/sisterhood from high school experiences
Perhaps the simplest reason to join a Greek organization: You create a new sense of family. Many students come to college and have to adapt to making new friends. Similar to a first year at summer camp, you have to find common experiences and interests in order to develop friendships. Anyone who was involved in community activities growing up and had their core group of friends will appreciate the speed with which you can make new friends and connections by joining a fraternity or sorority. It truly establishes a brotherhood/sisterhood experience you cannot get from any other club or group on campus.
There are plenty of ways to be involved when you get to college, but none of them provide the experience you get from joining a fraternity or sorority. Being Greek allows you to meet new people, learn about yourself, articulate your personal values and have an opportunity to grow into a better person. It is truly an experience unlike any other.