What it Means to be Greek

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Sarah Swindell
       Opinions Editor

Movies have created a certain vision of what it means to be in greek organizations. Fraternities and sororities are compiled of attractive and affluent types who spend copious amounts of time on their looks and socializing. They live in extravagant homes and have even more extravagant parties.

While this is a somewhat accurate depiction for some organizations at some universities across the nation, for many of us in greek organizations this is far from the case. In particular, being greek-affiliated at UNC Greensboro is nothing like that cinematic depiction of what it means to be part of a brotherhood or sisterhood such as these.

In truth, our members come in all shapes and sizes. This statement is becoming even truer as the many greek organizations begin to officially including trans individuals on a national level. As the gender binary and heteronormativity begins to fall by the wayside, different greek organizations become more prismatically various in their collective image.

We originated from different backgrounds and have differing opinions on every issue. There are certain commonalities of course, but the diversity is extensive from chapter to chapter. Members find their existence as a greek stressful at times, but we all know that we would not have it any other way. From initiation onward, for better or for worse, these members of our organization are family.

It is a relationship most akin to true siblinghood. As someone who grew up with just a sister, being in a greek female organization seems just an extension of that relationship. There is laughter, concern, stress, annoyance, honesty, and love. The greatest of these however always is love because loving another as you love those in their fraternity and sorority encompasses all other emotions.

On top of all of this, it seems the prototypical fraternity might be the only greeks that come to mind. However, there are so many more. Historically black fraternities and sororities, like the iconic Divine Nine, professional music fraternities like Sigma Alpha Iota, Phi Mu Alpha, and Mu Phi Epsilon, and academic or honors fraternities exist with their beloved greek letters and the secrets concealed beneath binding them eternally.

Those secrets which will never be disclosed beyond the walls of meetings and member-only conversations allow strangers to become friends almost instantly. My greek letters have taken me across the states, meeting those who have an instant connection over the organization we share. It bonds us with some invisible tether that is hard to explain outside to a non-greek. It seems only equal to unconditional love.

That unconditional love which pulls us together also draws us to work for a common cause. It inspires us to work for our philanthropies. Creating fundraisers, chapters work together to find creative solutions to raising money to those causes we hold dear.

On top of that, we work to improve our community and student body, partnering with local organizations to contribute to our chapter’s hometown. Whether it is working with the local parks system or hosting a food drive for the university’s food bank, every active member will work to contribute to that common cause.

Our dedication is rooted in our organizations that we have earned our privilege to be a part of.  Now, this means different things for different organizations. Every fraternity and sorority has their own traditions as part of the pledging and initiation process, but by no means is the artificial and vapid process shown in mass media.

Training at its core is an education process on the organization that individual has pledged to dedicate themselves to. Testing, interviews, and overall knowledge brings to light the importance of what it means to be a part of the sorority or fraternity in question. Without those weeks of study, the bond that binds every member would not be as strong and fervent as it is.

Without, you would not those instant colleagues that support you in every step of the way of your personal and professional life, which is what these groups are very much intended to be for their members. Fraternities and sororities are meant to be sources of true support for the individuals amongst them.

Connections from all over come together, and it is from those aforementioned bonds between every member that surpasses all understanding of the onlookers. It is how you can travel across the nation and find a place to stay. It is how you can wear your raised letters and have a knowing look, not just from your chapter, but anyone who has ever had the experience of being a member in a greek organization.

Truly I tell you, it is a community beyond the shallow image that is portrayed in film and television. The bonds, vitality, and community importance run so much deeper than ever seen. Bits and pieces are true. Houses do exist. Members can be obsessed with their looks. Organizations host socials and mixers, but the reality of what it means to be greek-affiliated is so much better than that.

To any non-greeks reading this, I hope it makes you reconsider looking for a fraternity or sorority to call home. It will make your life this much sweeter, and benefit you as an individual in the long run.


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