Story and photos by TAYLOR SCOTT
Many people have it engrained in their mind that Greek life creates a distraction from academics. However, the Greek system at the University of Utah provides an opportunity for students to become more involved in academics and the community. Since 1909, students involved in Greek life have proven to achieve better grades and earn positions as leaders among campus organizations and clubs.
The first Greek chapter was created shortly after the University of Utah was founded in 1909. Since then, there have been 11 fraternity chapters and seven sorority chapters established on campus. Throughout past years, some people have viewed Greek life as a way for students to become distracted from academics.
While this may be the case for some students, the U’s Greek chapters have proven otherwise.
The Greek system is one of the smaller Greek organizations in the country holding 1,600 active members. With that being said, students are able to join an immediate community of students in the early stages of their college career.
Ryan Miller, assistant director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, said, “While Utah has around 30,000 students, you are joining an organization of approximately 1600 – so it brings the large campus to a more intimate space.”
Students are able to connect with the sorority and fraternity chapters to choose their top house. All the chapters on campus have their own common areas of study for students to build relationships with scholars of the same interest.
Statistics have proven that students are more successful when they are a part of such groups. “You have a more direct group watching over you, similar to athletics. Instead of having a coach watch over you, you now have your peers watching you and guiding you through the proper steps,” said Walker Nasser, president of the Interfraternity Council at the U.
Enrolling into a Division 1 university with around 25,000 students can be overwhelming for students coming directly out of high school. Students are able to build relationships both academically and socially by enrolling in Greek life. Ronnie Kaye, from Sigma Phi Epsilon, said, “Joining a house is the best thing I could have ever done. I was able to meet a ton of students who share the same interests in academics and outside of school.”
With the help of your fraternity/sorority, students are able to sync up with friends of the same major and share resources with one another. “Grades do typically go up; the average Greek GPA is 3.7 which is just above the campus average,” Nasser said.
The Greek system on campus provides many different outlets for students to become involved with the community. According to Miller, “Most of the time the Associated Students of the University of Utah president and vice president are Greek as well as student alumni boards, the Mighty Utah Student Section, and Latter-day Saint Student Association.”
Each of the 18 groups at the U have their own nonprofit organization they support every year. Students work together as a community to raise funds for their chapter’s philanthropy.
“I would look at everyone’s philanthropy as great. Beta, for example, does a lot of work with the Rape Recovery Center,” Nasser said. “Phi Delt does a lot of work with Alzheimer’s and all of their projects, Sig Chi is the leading chapter for the Huntsman Cancer Institute.”
Each chapter is able to make students aware of issues in the community and allow students from all over campus to help make a change.
Greek students are given many resources guiding them to potential job opportunities throughout the world. Students currently enrolled at the U have access to a plethora of different scholarship opportunities and connections for those eager to enter the business world. “A lot of the alums stay around the Salt Lake Valley, so if you are looking for jobs most likely there will be some connection to the fraternity and sorority community,” Miller said.
Not only does the U provide current Greek students with these benefits, there are also many alumni associations that can extend your connections worldwide after college. The creation of clubs and academic resources throughout the Fraternity and Sorority chapters has allowed students to become involved within the university and gain the resources to be successful. The relationships that are built with your brothers and sisters will continue on after college allowing you access to an endless amount of connections.