Opinion: Fraternities provide a support system

    By Elena Taylor and Javier Jurado Velez, The News-Letter

    Neither of us really ever imagined ourselves joining a fraternity or sorority in college. However, when we noticed those in Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) who are incredibly involved on campus, we realized, as many do, that going through recruitment might be a worthwhile experience.

    Members of FSL at Hopkins like ourselves often join their communities in order to become more involved at Hopkins, create close bonds with people, and find a place to call home. 

    Being a member of a fraternity or sorority teaches you life-long, marketable skills, and gives you a head start in finding future jobs or internships. Most chapters have a host of leadership opportunities with an executive board and upwards of 20 appointed positions. These positions teach members how to listen, become effective communicators and facilitate their own personal growth.

    Even those without an official title step up and take on important projects. For example, any member may head a decorations committee for a philanthropy event or contact alumni about upcoming engagement opportunities.

    These opportunities also encourage learning other crucial skills such as public speaking, time management and event organization. Moreover, chapter leaders attain many skills from working both internally to improve their chapter and externally with Hopkins and the community at large. 

    On top of that, being a member of a fraternity or sorority gives you unimaginable alumni connections. Alumni are more than willing to assist current undergraduates when they find their “Greek” community. When Kamala Harris was running for president, her campaign manager (a former Alpha Phi), spoke to the Hopkins chapter about how Alpha Phi prepared her for her career. She also offered her assistance to members pursuing politics.

    The Hopkins alumni network, of course, boasts its own wonderful connections. But the alumni network of a 100,000-large group of individuals belonging to the same chapter across the country both expands and strengthens those connections. It’s no wonder that 18 US presidents and 85 percent of executives of Fortune 500 companies have been former fraternity or sorority members. 

    Although “Greek Life” is often seen as separate from academic life at universities, it is undeniably connected. Members of FSL at Hopkins and beyond enjoy academic support exceeding that which is offered to other undergraduates. This is noted, as FSL members typically have a higher GPA compared to non-members.

    Given the large number of students in each chapter, there are almost always numerous members of your organization who have taken your classes before. They are more than willing to help if you are struggling, give insider tips, and supply you with notes or study guides that they created. Moreover, fraternity and sorority members continue to excel in academics as teaching assistants, PILOT leaders, and prominent researchers. 

    According to research done by the National Panhellenic Council, women in sororities show an 11 percent higher retention rate between their first and second year of college compared to non-members. Similar research also shows that men in fraternities are 20 percent more likely to graduate than non-members.

    FSL keeps members motivated to pursue  degrees by offering academic and personal support from fellow members and the national chapter. Finally, there are a slew of scholarships available to members of FSL organizations that can offset the cost of tuition. For example, the Phi Delta Theta Foundation awarded over $200,000 nationally in scholarships to its fraternity’s members that excel in their academics.

    Most important, joining a fraternity or sorority immediately offers you a community of strong and supportive people during your time at Hopkins and for the rest of your life. Chapters at Hopkins highlight the diversity and inclusivity of the larger FSL community. 

    Members at Hopkins come from a range of different backgrounds, races and identities. This  promotes a healthy space for members to express themselves, and to have confidence in their own beliefs and identities. Joining a chapter provides students at a rigorous top-tier institution like Hopkins the support network of friends to help individuals reach their full potential.

    Stress among first year students often stems from a feeling of loneliness. Joining  a fraternity or sorority is a great way to relieve this first year stress, and to find your place in college.

    Additionally, chapters at Hopkins share their own successes and confidence with the greater community and across the nation. On average, the national fraternity community raises over $20 million annually to support philanthropic causes, and its members volunteer more than 3.8 million hours of service a year.

    Even better, chapters aim to raise funds through fun activities that bring people together. Each semester is filled with fun philanthropy events for the community, such as Kappa Alpha Theta’s Rock the CASA and Phi Gamma Delta’s The Push. 

    Sadly, the FSL community has had its issues that we adamantly reject such as hazing, sexual misconduct, and discrimination. However, those actions do not represent what joining a chapter consists of.

    Offending chapters have been closed or revoked for their inappropriate conduct. In a place like Hopkins, where equality and diversity are celebrated, these values are reflected in the fraternities and sororities. 

    Both Hopkins and FSL take a strong stance against actions that do not represent our community. New members of FSL have to undergo interactive trainings consisting of anti-hazing and protecting against sexual misconduct before becoming full members. Individual chapters continue to reinforce that message. Additionally, individual chapters all have their own risk management protocols in order to take proactive measures to respond to and avoid dangerous scenarios. 

    Finding a chapter where you feel comfortable expressing your true self will grant you all the amazing tools and opportunities that you will carry for a lifetime. Joining a chapter does not only provide an everlasting connection to others, but also a profound addition to the Hopkins experience.

    Elena Taylor is a sophomore studying Neuroscience from Glen Mills, Pennsylvania. She is the VP of Member Education and Programming for Alpha Phi. Javier Jurado Vélez is a junior studying Medicine, Science, & the Humanities from Carolina, Puerto Rico. He is the Vice President for Phi Delta Theta.