As I finish my third year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I can confidently say I’ve grown tremendously as a person. I attribute this largely to the people I’ve met and spent my time with.
I’m fortunate to have come from a town that prepared me for the challenges college has to offer, especially academically. However, as for the diversity in my small southwestern Connecticut hometown, it’s extremely lacking.
Choosing a large university that would bring me beyond this bubble was a driving factor in my college decision, and I love UMass Amherst in every aspect of its student body -- I’m a strong believer that the variety of people we meet everyday enhances our own understanding of the world we live in. One way in which I quickly was exposed to a more diverse campus was through my decision to join Greek life.
Most of my family attended private, Jesuit universities where going Greek wasn’t even an option. So, if we’re being entirely honest, I didn’t expect to join Greek life in my collegiate career, mostly because it was just never discussed in my household growing up. Ironically, I know many people in fraternities/sororities in the same position. That being said, joining has been one of the best decisions of my life, simply due to the volume of kind people I’ve met.
Campus involvement and helping others is what drives Greek organizations at UMass, and I’m proud to be a part of something that focuses so heavily on improving the area we live in. Whether it’s on campus, for a local charity, or for a national philanthropy, Greek organizations are constantly advocating to help, while meeting new people in the process.
Every social Greek chapter has at least one national philanthropy that they donate money to through fundraisers on campus or via social media. The charities differ depending on the chapter, which is all explained on the welcoming days of recruitment in the fall. Money can also be raised for each chapter’s national organization and local charities. Being able to go to fundraisers, volunteer work, and social events are all among the perks of going Greek.
Rightfully so, people join Greek life to meet new people. As each chapter ranges from 70-100 people, meeting new friends is inevitable. Something in particular I’ve noticed is that whether it’s my walk to class or a quick trip to a dining hall, I’m bound to run into someone I know, either in my chapter or who I’ve through Greek life. On such a large campus, this helps to make it feel a bit more like home.
Considering that I’m definitely a much more shy person, especially at first, I never thought I’d know as many people as I do in college. Meeting 100 girls almost all at once can definitely be intimidating, but I quickly learned how genuine the girls are -- something I hope I’ve adopted in my time in Greek life. Not only do they welcome you with open arms, but it’s out of genuine excitement to meet you. Above anything, I appreciate the friendships going Greek has brought me.
In answering the question of whether or not somebody should “go Greek,” I strongly dispute the notion that it takes a certain person to join Greek life -- simply due to the fact I never saw myself joining, either. The time commitment is what you make of it (there are certain required events), but you are encouraged to immerse yourself into your organization. This is easy because once you join any organization, Greek or not, you’re going to want to invest your time into it. Outside of classes, studying, working and the other pressures college can hold, it’s important to have an outlet that makes you happy -- Greek life, for me, has been this outlet.
From my experience, going Greek has done nothing but enhance my social life, largely due to the amount of people I’ve met through it. But it’s just that -- my sorority, similar to the hundreds of other organizations on campus, introduced me to people.
Therefore, I think it is safe to say that UMass is not a school where your affiliation to Greek life will dictate anything. With 30,000 students attending UMass, there really is something here for everyone. If that something for you is Greek life, hundreds of other members will welcome you with open arms during fall recruitment.
However, your interests may steer in a completely different direction. Or maybe it's both -- exploring all of your passions at UMass is encouraged and expected.