Who actually comes into college these days with the plan to join a fraternity or sorority? Odds are they’re the people that enjoy excessive binge drinking, elephant walks and naked pillow fights, right? This has been the Greek stereotype for decades, and it remains the skewed image many people have today. The truth is that fraternities and sororities provide numerous services to members of the university that are often overlooked.

Greek organizations are asked many times what they give back to the community. There are several regular philanthropic events that fraternities and sororities organize each year. Many groups hold largely publicized events on this campus each year such as Anchor Splash (Delta Gamma), Alpha-Traz (Alpha Phi, Alpha Delta Phi, Alpha Phi Omega) and Derby Days (Sigma Chi) where, in some cases, thousands of dollars are raised for charities. Aside from these large-scale events, Greeks often volunteer off-campus with non-profit organizations such as Ronald McDonald House, Sojourner House and Foodlink.

The student population, however, gains the most from the existence of Greek organizations on campus. Where our university and city provides limited opportunities to be social – being a native Rochesterian, I feel safe making this bold claim – the fraternities on campus provide a convenient and safe environment for students to come together and socialize.

A social outlet is essential at a school such as UR, a very academically demanding institution. But more than anything, it gives students a reason to leave their rooms. There have been problems in the past where students stay in their rooms and drink irresponsibly to a dangerous extent which sometimes results in an ambulance ride to Strong Hospital. Fraternity members, however, are socially trained and know how to handle potentially dangerous situations involving alcohol. They are also trained to help to avoid these instances before they occur. Having fraternities present on campus also reduces the risk that people will be drinking and driving to and from bars.

The benefits of Greek organizations are not limited to the community, the university and the students but also to the members of fraternities and sororities. Fraternities and sororities encourage the development of leadership skills as well as foster a strong sense of personal responsibility by giving members the opportunity to hold offices which are important to chapter operations. Many national fraternities and sororities also sponsor leadership building events during summer months to further strengthen their members. They help students become more well-rounded individuals that are better able to work with people and establish connections with other members across our country and internationally.

Terradas can be reached at tteradas@campustimes.org.

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