Senior year provides new perspectives on Greek life

Martina Pansze

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Within a few weeks of arriving to campus, first-years are faced with the decision of whether or not they want to go Greek. For many upperclassmen involved with men’s and women’s fraternities, however, the scene is much different than what they anticipated.

Senior Zachary Gordy, a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE), agrees that the notion of Greek life changes over time.

“When you get inside sophomore or junior year when you’re allowed to live in, the whole perception of the dynamic changes in a very fundamental way,” he said.

Senior Maria Ptucha believes that her Greek life experience has changed as well.

“When I rushed, I did it on a whim and landed in [Kappa Alpha Theta]. I was excited but unsure if I would stick with it. Now, as a senior, my excitement for Theta is more palpable,” said Ptucha in an email.

For Gordy, it was the leadership opportunities within the fraternity that sparked the change in perception. Positions in Greek groups come with a lot of responsibility, and Gordy has been kitchen assistant since his sophomore year.

“Learning to cook for 100 people every week taught me life skills and taught me how to be a good leader without being overbearing or ruling through punishment,” he said.

Gordy found that the experience has made him grow as a person and has made him want to stay and give back to TKE to help make it a positive environment for all the people involved.

He understands that stereotypes perpetuated by popular media plague perceptions of the Greek scene, and it can be hard to undo people’s biases.

“There’s a certain stigma surrounding frats and a lot of it has to do with parties, but what most people don’t see is the day-to-day interactions,” said Gordy.

Ptucha adds that as a senior, she feels most positively towards her Greek group because her time is limited.

“I think with senior year comes the heightened reality of pre-nostalgia,” she said. “Now rather than feeling like I have to go to chapter, I am actively and consciously choosing to do so, and choosing to spend my time with Theta.”

Gordy also thinks that a lot of the changes within TKE have to do with the senior class each year, and that it’s the most important factor in setting the tone in the house.

“From year to year, having a different senior class –– some have been stronger, some have been weaker –– has fundamentally changed the character and mood of the house overall,” he said. “Having a really strong senior class that wants to hang out with people gets everyone more excited.”

Ptucha sees those changes within her own Greek group. She suggested that most of the women running the chapter are juniors and therefore other people are taking care of the big picture.

“The seniors in Theta have more time to invest in things like senior class bonding, stepping in as matriarchs within our Theta families and helping out the current leaders in smaller leadership roles,” she said.

For some who deactivate from a Greek group, the bonds of Greek life last even after the process. The relationships between the individual and the group stay intact, and the deactivated members can continue to benefit from the positive aspects of Greek life.

When senior Samuel Adler decided to deactivate from his fraternity, he found that his social life didn’t change significantly. Adler found it easier to meet new people after deactivating. He attributes the lack of dramatic social change to the fact that he still visits the Phi Delta Theta house.

“Deactivating has not really changed my social life since I am still good friends with the Phi house,” he said.

Adler said that even through deactivation his feelings toward Greek life haven’t changed at all.

“I still think it is a good way to meet people and offers a different kind of community,” he said.

Gordy agrees that going Greek doesn’t rule his social scene, but it is definitely a large influence.

“You grow really close to this group of 50 to 100 guys, and sometimes you feel like you don’t even need to go out because your whole social life is happening inside the house,” said Gordy.

Although he said it can be good to spend time with people through other avenues, being a member of TKE obligates him to be social within that group.

He explained, however, that he’s met many people through extracurriculars and clubs on campus.

“There’s always been other activities to participate in that have allowed me to branch out,” he said.
Through deactivation or heightened enthusiasm, Gordy, Ptucha and Adler agree that they’ve made lasting connections with other members of their respective Greek groups and have learned about themselves through their involvement.

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