Ortiz: Why I am still Greek

By Sterling Ortiz | April 2, 2023

Northwestern University logo.

March 17 marked four years since I first joined my fraternity, Omega Delta Phi. That day, I capped off the end of the rigorous educational process with my new brothers and feasted on the best-tasting fast food I’ve ever had. This year, my anniversary celebration consisted of me using time on my flight home to reflect on what these past four years have meant to me.

My four years in Omega Delta Phi have been a pattern of ups and downs for the prospect of Northwestern Greek life at large. When I joined my Latino-founded, multicultural fraternity at the end of Winter Quarter in 2019, we had just reached the peak of pre-pandemic membership numbers across all of our councils. But, due to COVID-19 and a push to abolish Greek life, the summer and fall of 2020 saw a precipitous fall in the number of active members and chapters still functioning at NU.

However, Greek life has made a significant comeback this year and last. Part of the turnaround can be attributed to Greeks who have, like me, kept their affiliation even when general Northwestern culture made it feel as if most of our allies and neutral parties turned against us.
My existence begs the question: Why am I still Greek?

One of my main reasons for staying is that I want to build something greater than myself. When applying to schools as a first-generation college student, I viewed college as a 40-year investment rather than a four-year decision. I knew I had the chance to do many great things at a Top 10 university like NU where my accomplishments would form a foundation that would last a lifetime. When I began at NU, I joined many other organizations where I initially felt I could create this legacy. But, I ended up finding all of them inadequate.

During the first half of 2021, when students writ large were allowed back on campus amid COVID-19, I developed two initiatives that ensured my legacy. As Omega Delta Phi’s Events Chair at the time, I worked with my chapter to create engaging events that accounted for various COVID-19 restrictions. Our work ensured that my fraternity stayed active and could transition well to post-COVID life, even as other Latine student groups at NU were on life support.

Later, as the third president of the modern republic of the Multicultural Greek Council, I was blessed to work with a wonderful group of comrades from all chapters. Together, we kept our realm alive as we worked ourselves to the bone to ensure our future Greeks had a Council to join. I recall a time we once frantically placed flyers on every open wall we could find on campus to advertise joint events with Northwestern Career Advancement to give our members resumé advice. While President of MGC, I was also a Public Affairs Residential College/North Mid-Quads resident. As a freshman, I had eagerly applied to join the residential college and naively thought I would live there throughout my entire time at Northwestern. I was also president of PARC/NMQ for a time, though I chose to resign when I took medical leave starting Thanksgiving 2019.