Greek Awards 2008: The Drama Behind Shiny Trophies

We spend weeks slaving over them, not to mention countless hours huddling over a computer screen in the wee hours of the night, when we should really be studying. Meticulous revision of notes, anxious contemplation over formatting and debates over bolding-versus-italicizing become increasingly greater concerns as the deadline nears. Writing workshops are hosted, department officers are stalked and the nerve-wracking occasion of finally surrendering a completed packet to the Dean of Students simultaneously creates feelings of elation and panic. This is the potential payoff of a year’s worth of work and a process of being subjected to critique from community peers. This is Greek Awards.
Greek Awards inspire an obsession, unlike any other event in the Greek community. Taken with the seriousness of the Oscars, the Order of Omega sponsors the event and oversees the award-application process. Those chapter members who take on the task of writing the award submissions bear the heavy burden of deciphering the formatting rules and paying careful attention to the preferred diction in order to provide sufficient illustration of their chapter’s merits.
It all comes down to a few bullet-points, so you better make them good. Attempting to encapsulate an entire event or program in a few concise sentences induces the kind of stress reserved for biomedical engineering finals. Doing this for each of the 20 awards often results in flared tempers and mini-meltdowns, but in the name of possibly receiving chapter recognition, these things can be forgiven. Since I have been in this position three years in a row for my chapter (Greek Awards Committee, to be specific), I have witnessed everything from the sun rising as we frantically put the final touches on our awards to the drop-kicking of my inkless printer across the room. And for what? Those shiny, damn trophies presented to their respective winners in front of the entire Greek community.
The strut of victory one makes up the stage in front of his or her peers means everything, even if we say it doesn’t. The exhilaration of seeing your entire chapter in pandemonium upon hearing its own name, and the smug satisfaction of pointing out one’s winnings during recruitment are the shallow, but (let’s face it) authentic reasons for willingly spending weeks revising award applications.
While Greek Awards have been a long-standing tradition in the community, they are met with mixed feelings. Touted as an opportunity to recognize the hard work and efforts of the Greek community at large, the Order of Omega makes a great attempt to paint a positive image of Greeks by inviting UC Irvine faculty to the event. In addition, members of all chapters are invited to participate in the selection committee. “With Greek Awards, Order of Omega is trying to unite the Greek community through our shared efforts to improve ourselves,” said Frannie Resch, a third-year double-major in political science and drama and a member of Order of Omega, Alpha Phi. “The awards are a way of highlighting the high standards we want to encourage of all chapters, and offer a model that we hope each sorority and fraternity will attempt to emulate as they grow,” she added.
Conversely, some members of the Greek Community feel that Greek Awards are unfairly executed. “It’s interesting to me that the chapters of each executive member in Order of Omega routinely sweep all the awards,” says a fourth-year who wishes to remain anonymous. “By looking at the patterns each year, it just seems so obvious. For the few award recipients that are inarguable, they clearly can’t manipulate those, but for the awards that are too close to call, it would be very easy to simply default to their own chapters.”
Whether or not Greek Awards are biased is debatable, but what is commendable is the creation of an opportunity for the Greek community to come together and celebrate its collective accomplishments in the face of a negative public perception. Perhaps Greek Awards guest speaker and political science professor Mark Petracca, summed it up most effectively when he mentioned the unique experiences and professional training we Greeks will have throughout their college career, which is what makes it stand apart from others.
Without further adieu, the winners can be found at http://dos.uci.edu/greeklife.