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“Greek Life” changes to Fraternity, Sorority Life

Last fall, administrators of the Memorial Union at Emporia State began an effort to change the name of Greek Life to something a little less confusing for International students – Fraternity and Sorority Life.

“It’s my understanding that it was merely an effort to be more clear,” said Roger Heineken, administrative officer with the Memorial Union and co-advisor of the Inter-Fraternity Council. “I think when people hear ‘Greek’ they think of the country first and this probably (is) a way to just be more explicit.”

Since 1910 when ESU saw its first chapter on campus, the collective of fraternities and sororities have been known as Greek Life because of the Greek letters that create each of their names. But in the past few years, with an increase in the numbers of international students who are looking to join the fraternities and sororities on campus, Jason Bosch, senior director of Center for Student Involvement, has been contemplating the change of the group’s name.

“I was talking with some of the staff in OIE (Office of International Education), kind of asking, you know, is this name something that could be misinterpreted or misunderstood by students who are coming in,” Bosch said. “They thought that it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to go ahead and make that change. Just so that the name is more representative of what the office actually does.”

The change is not necessarily to discontinue confusion about what Fraternity and Sorority Life entails, but to assure students from foreign countries that they are welcome to be a part of this American tradition.

According to Tianna Todd, sophomore psychology major and President of Panhellenic Association, the sorority equivalent to the Inter-Fraternity Council, there are not currently any female international students involved in any sororities.

“I have not yet experienced any international students having interest in the Panhellenic community,” Todd said. “However, if they were interested, I would be more than willing to guide them through the formal or informal process of recruitment.”

Warrick Rodgers, freshman psychology major, is an international student from Harare, Zimbabwe, who recently accepted a bid from Phi Sigma Kappa.

“I think it’s just a way of getting involved on campus, a social aspect means we’re not going to be as isolated,” Rodgers said. “I enjoy getting to meet new people, getting to associate with other fraternities, sororities. It helps with social life, it helps get involved on campus. I think it makes us pretty unique to be an international student in a fraternity.”

Though Rodgers has not been initiated yet, he says that he’s known about the process of being in a fraternity because of the media.

“It’s a way of understanding American culture,” he says.

Some international students may be wary of what Fraternity and Sorority Life will entail, but the best thing that they can do for themselves is to just go hang out with some members on campus – create a friendship first to see if a fraternity or sorority is right for you.

“International students may be interested in sorority life because it offers an additional experience to college life,” Todd said. “Joining a sorority may give one a better sense of identity as she will be surrounding by women that share the same values as her and form a network of support for her as well.”

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