Across the country there is a bad stigma surrounding Greek life on college campuses. Members of sororities and fraternities are often seen as loud, drunk party animals who are only a nuisance to the town they reside in. Locals who permanently reside in Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, often referred to as “Townies” by Bloomsburg University students, testify that Greeks cause more harm than good in any college town. Many even go as far as persuading the town to take away Greek houses all together.
“While it is hard to imagine, Bloomsburg was once a quiet, safe town to live in. Now with the popularity of sororities and fraternities growing and college students taking over, it’s hard for townspeople like myself to even get to sleep at night let alone enjoy the town we once loved. It makes me sad to drive down Light Street and see the streets littered with beer cans and bottles,” says Brenda Stirling, a Bloomsburg, PA resident.
There is no hiding that members of the Greek community at any college partake in partying and drinking. This behavior often gets out of control which creates a bad reputation for Greeks. For example, every year Bloomsburg University students plan and organize an annual block party that brings in students from all over Pennsylvania. The students fill the streets with alcohol in hand causing the town to have to triple police enforcement on that specific weekend. In 2013, a party being hosted by a Greek organization, got extremely out of hand and police were required to utilize tear gas to break it up. Because the incident occurred at a Greek residence, all members of Bloomsburg University’s Greek community were represented in a negative light.
Video retrieved from YouTube “Dr. Jacob Eber Wright/BloomuToday”
The Side of Greeks You Don’t See
To many Non-Greek members of the community, it is easy to only see this side of Greeks. They do play loud music on the weekends, drink excessively, host parties that get out of control, and have beer cans and bottles littered across their lawns every weekend. However, what people don’t see is the hours of community service spend towards helping their community, the hours spent studying at the library, or the hours spent at leadership conferences to improve their chapter.
Photo Retrieved from Instagram “bloomuphisig”
“People outside of Greek life never take the opportunity to recognize that we do have events that don’t involve drinking because then that would break the stereotype. I have participated in tons of community service, fundraising and philanthropy events since I’ve joined Greek life and couldn’t be happier to give back to others. Greeks do give back and it’s something that people need to recognize,” says Gabrielle Guarrera, Bloomsburg University student and Greek life member.
At Bloomsburg University, every single Greek life member is required to participate in fifteen community service hours every semester, attend community cleanups after events such as Homecoming and Block Party, maintain a minimum GPA of a 2.5, have mandatory study hours for new members, and attend risk management seminars to educate themselves about alcohol awareness, drugs, sexual assault, hazing, etc. Also, individual chapters have unique programs in place for members of their organization who are struggling in school. Last year alone, the Bloomsburg University Greek community recorded over 10,000 hours of community service done by Greek life and almost 25,000 hours annually with many members averaging 30-35 hours completed each semester; 15-20 hours more than they are required to do.
Why Do Students Choose to Go Greek?
Students decide to join a Greek organizations for several reasons and that will differ from person to person. For some, it is just for the party. However, what they will come to realize is that with the partying comes fulfilling responsibilities to their chapter, campus, and community. For others, it may be a home away from home. Making bonds with the brothers and sisters surrounding them fills a void that may exist from being far from their families. For others, it can simply be a way to meet new people and make friends. And then there are those few who really do join Greek life to give back to their chapter, campus, and community.
It is not until someone joins a sorority or fraternity, that they will realize how much more Greek life is than just drinking and partying. They realize that memories are not made at the parties; they are made at the community service events, sober lock-ins, movie nights, haunted house trips, awareness events, and family dinners.
“We are more than just three letters across our chest and a solo cup in our hand. We’re a family and a community that cares for one another and about the people around us. We give back to those who need it and genuinely care about others. We’re each other’s support system and being a part of Greek life puts a smile on my face whenever I see a sister around campus,” says Kate Dillon, Bloomsburg University student and Greek life member.