With core values that focus on brotherhood, sisterhood, growth and service learning, Greek life plays an important role for many students on college campuses across the country. At Olivet College, 171 students make up the 11 Greek houses, which include the oldest all-female literary society in the nation and the first coeducational literary/social society in the nation. All of the Greek societies are local organizations founded at Olivet, ensure its success in the community, and some are over 100 years old.
Greek life fosters a sense of family for many students, encouraging strong relationships with not only their Greek family, but with the College itself. Students that join Greek life have a higher tendency to return to campus for social and sporting events and have a higher likelihood of investing in the College, ensuring the continued growth and betterment of the institution for years to come.
Junior Katie Murphy, president of Sigma Beta sorority, shared that her passion for Greek life stems from the sense of sisterhood and family.
“Being part of my sorority means being part of a family — it’s a bunch of girls going through the ups and downs of college together,” Murphy said. “I have a family to lean on and people that will be there for me for life. The bonds we create with our brothers and sisters are so incredible and powerful.”
Yet, for some students, the sisterhood or brotherhood is just one appealing aspect of Greek life, and instead, they find themselves drawn to the service aspect that is instilled in every sorority and fraternity. Their desire to join Greek life is fueled by their drive to give back to the community.
Murphy has led Sigma Beta in many community service activities, such as a teddy bear drive for children in Child Protective Services and a tea fundraiser at the SIREN/Eaton Shelter. For Fall Service Day, Sigma Beta partnered with Soronian to clean the Conservatory parking lot, and at Homecoming, they sold bracelets for breast cancer awareness. Thee sorority also participates in the annual Charlotte CROP Walk.
The Charlotte CROP Walk is a fundraiser dedicated to ending hunger both locally and internationally. As a collective, members of Greek life at Olivet contribute their time and talents to this cause by raising funds, helping the organizers with day-of event details, cheering on walkers and participating in the walk themselves. For over 10 years, Greek life students have continued to work the Charlotte CROP Walk, helping ensure its success in the community.
In addition to the Charlotte CROP Walk, students participate in an annual Greek service trip to Port Austin. All students pledging to one of the 11 Greek houses attend this trip with a few active members from each house. While on the service trip, students work on a variety of projects, such as helping individuals in their homes or volunteering at historical centers and libraries.
Being a part of something bigger than oneself was a huge driving force in encouraging Donyale “Don” Griffin to join Greek life. Griffin now serves as president of Alpha Xi Omega, also known as “ELITE.”
“ELITE focuses on creating a better understanding among all students at Olivet in the areas of diversity and multicultural awareness,” Griffin said. “I was passionate about joining a group that holds itself to a different standard to maintain that status of ELITE. My passion for Greek life is the result of belonging to a community of selfless individuals within organizations who are focused on the development of themselves.” Being a member of Greek life, for Griffin, is a continuous balance of holding oneself to a higher standard while having fun at the same time.
Jason Meadows ’03, associate dean of student engagement, is proud of the progress Greek life has made at Olivet. He believes their focus on philanthropy and fostering deeper relationships with members is helping to create a stronger connection to the College. “I encourage students considering Greek life to attend informational sessions and engage with current members in order to ‘find the right fit.’”
According to Murphy, joining her sorority was the best decision she’s ever made. “I’m passionate about Greek life because it is my everything,” Murphy said. “It has made me grow in so many ways I never thought I could. It’s a true blessing. It’s a strong, loving community no matter which house you’re a part of. We are all Greeks and we all have each other. It’s just love, pride and family.”
Greek life at Olivet College is more than an extracurricular activity; it’s an opportunity to join something collective, focused on the betterment of its members and the community as a whole. It’s an opportunity to engage with community members and give back. Being a part of Greek life means joining a family that will be yours for life.