The Non-Greek Greeks
To wear your letters is an act of pride toward any Greek organization. With years of movies and social ideas, there is a ‘coolness’ factor that is connected to the stereotyped Greek life. But what about the Greek organizations that are not focused on simply the camaraderie, but unite individuals on another factor? Although they do not have their own houses in Arroyo Vista or throw their own parties, these types of non-Greek Greek organizations can act as yet another experience that is open to UCI students, allowing the formation of connections in a whole new way. There are the fraternities for individuals who are primarily interested in networking with other students of the same professional goals, honors status or community service interest, a bit different from the ‘Greek’ stereotype.
With so many choices, however, all of the opportunities can be a bit overwhelming, as is evident from a simple walk down Ring Road. While the main difference between these types of groups can be the primary focus, there are pros and cons to joining a professional or honors focused Greek organization that results in a distinctive experience.
The appeal of any Greek organization, whether it is Kappa Kappa Gamma or Phi Delta Epsilon, is the opportunity for social ties and camaraderie. Ask Greek members and many will tell you that one of their primary reasons for joining was to meet more people. Both types of organizations also have shown similarities in their focus on making connections. Although the history and networks may not be as extensive as Pan-Hellenic, Inter-fraternal Council, African-American, Asian-American or Latino Greek fraternities and sororities, these ‘non-Greek’ fraternities also have their own share of traditions and chapters. This was the case for Pamela Pascua, a fourth-year biological sciences major in Alpha Phi Omega, who joined because ‘My dad was in it when he was in college, so I’ve known about [APO] since I was little.’
Another perk to joining a Greek society of any kind is the resources to other clubs and academic programs on campus. Stanley Lin, a third-year student who is part of Pi Kappa Alpha and Alpha Epsilon Delta, joined the Greek organizations to keep in touch with friends and also to ‘play competitive sports.’ With a close association to UCI, Greek members can also enjoy active participation in events like Shocktoberfest and Wayzgoose.
Although you can form friends in either organization, the types of friendships and connections that are made through each type of Greek society is different. With the intent of creating a society of brothers or sisters, Pan-Hellenic sororities and IFC fraternities allow people to become extremely close, partially due to an exclusive membership that allows each member to know each other. Fourth-year math major in Kappa Kappa Gamma Melissa White said, ‘I have made connections I never would have made in another organization and I have made lifelong friends.’
In other societies whose primary purpose is networking, professional relationships can be built very early in your college career. That is not to say that you cannot make any professional relationships in the Pan-Hellenic, IFC, Asian-American, African-American and Latino fraternities or sororities. But these relationships are more likely in an environment where you already share a common interest with other members, or where previous members have become successful in your particular area of interest. Nicholas Kontogiannis, president of the pre-law fraternity Phi Alpha Delta, says that their organization ‘provides its members with resources such as guest speakers and a social network that allows any student who is confused about law to seek help.’
Members are also able to relate to each another on a new level as they undergo the same rigors toward a certain field. For Ken Miyazato, a biological sciences major in Alpha Epsilon Delta, joining ‘was an easy way to meet other pre-health students, learn about the application process, and get involved with medically related volunteer work.’
While social relationships can also form, Pascua said that, due to the sheer size of organizations with open membership, it’s ‘hard to get to know everyone as much as you want to.’
As with any social commitment, participation in any organization can cause less free or study time and sometimes diminish friendships with any non-members. This is especially true of the Greek life, which includes a rush process that categorizes new members as ‘pledges’ and usually is associated with a new set of obligations. The appearance of new duties can cause any college student to spend less time on other hobbies. The degree of obligation in the pledging process can differ depending on which organization you join, even within the Panhellenic, IFC, Asian-American, African-American and Latino fraternities and sororities.
But most members of the ‘non-Greek’ Greek organizations will tell you that the pledging process is not as demanding. The pledge requirements for Alpha Epsilon Delta are four hours of community service, the accumulation of pledge points, and CPR certification, which may not be as tough on a full-time student’s schedule. Another plus to this lightened pledge load is that some of these new requirements, such as the CPR certification of AED, can be stepping stones to shared career goals.
Whether it is through parties, service events or formals, the Greek life is one distinctive part of the college lifestyle for many students, both members and non-members. In addition to the numerous academic opportunities offered here at UCI, any type of Greek organization can help develop both your social and professional connections depending on the priority of each organization.
‘PIKE takes priority toward social events and sports, while AED is more focused on community service and getting into different graduate schools,’ said Lin, who is a member of several Greek organizations. ‘These organizations are helping me enjoy my college experience and helping me develop to become a more balanced person.’
Any aspect of your life can be enhanced by participation in one Greek society, allowing you to truly make the most of your college education.