Students contribute through Greek life

By Amanda Highland, Illinois State University

The ISU Sigma Alpha Mu Chapter, via Instagram @sam_isu

Those who founded Illinois State University’s sorority and fraternity community more than 50 years ago would be proud of the 2,500 affiliated students today, as they find meaningful ways to live their organization’s values.

Assistant Dean Shawn Dowiak differentiates the experience of yesterday and today. “What is fulfilling about the sorority and fraternity experience is that it still provides a support network for students to be successful in their endeavors in college and beyond,” Dowiak said.

“What has changed is that the experience for many students today is one piece of their leadership identity, whereas historically for many students it would have been the main piece of their identity.”

The scope of leadership in the community is obvious to presidents of each of the four governing councils, who witness how Greek organizations are rising by lifting up others.

“I have seen the Panhellenic women more actively volunteering and giving to those in need,” said Ellie Cheline, College Panhellenic president. One example is the efforts of Grace Ruff, a nursing major and member of Zeta Tau Alpha. She raised more than $1,500 to send care packages to ICU nurses during the pandemic.

“ICU nurses naturally present with higher burnout rates and work-related stress due to caring for patients in extremely critical condition. Empathizing with nurses in this difficult position, along with my career goal to become an ICU nurse, led me to create ISeeYou,” Ruff said. “With some help, I was able to create my own website, Instagram, and Facebook pages to get the word out and was able to make an impact on more than 200 local ICU nurses.”

Interfraternity Council President Clark Purdy is equally proud of efforts by Auggie Margarida, philanthropy chair of Alpha Tau Omega. Margarida led a T-shirt fundraiser and motivated both students and alumni to raise money for the Frontline Responders Fund. Angelica Rodriquiz is president of the United Greek Council. It includes the Zeta Chapter of Sigma Lambda Gamma, which donated money to the Minnesota Freedom Fund to provide funding to promote racial equality.

Members of the Greek community also encourage each other, which has been the experience of Black Greek Council President Naudia Williams. “My sorority sisters have always been supportive of my poetry, pushing me to be myself more than anything,” Williams said.

“At a young age, I began to enter speech and poetry competitions. This year I am competing in America’s Best College Poet Competition, where I will be representing Illinois State University.”

While students could have been discouraged this year by challenges surrounding the coronavirus, those in the Greek community have remained positive and taken action. To continue learning about how Illinois State is helping sorority and fraternities meet the needs of others, follow the community on social media.

Follow the Dean of Students Office on Twitter or find them on Facebook.