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NEWS

November 16, 2012

Greek Life Flourishes on RSU's Campus

Rogers State University's Greek life has provided an opportunity for students to come together and grow, as well as contribute to the campus and community.

Greek life has been present at RSU since 2004 and today includes four chapters. The chapters include the Alpha Sigma Alpha and Alpha Sigma Tau sororities and the Kappa Sigma and Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternities.

The Greek system encourages involvement in activities on and off campus. The membership benefits include community service, friendship, social activities, leadership skills, scholarship opportunities, as well as the opportunity for students to learn more about themselves and who they can be.

Fraternities and sororities place a high value on academic success, as evidenced by grade point average. Members within the Greek system hold higher GPA's compared to non-Greeks. RSU's most recent all-Greek GPA is 3.13, almost three-tenths higher than the overall campus average. Each chapter emphasizes minimum academic requirements, as well as study hours in order to achieve academic excellence. Chapters also provide members with an opportunity for scholarship.

Leadership is commonly demonstrated among RSU Greeks, and many agree it is one of the key skills they have developed while being a part of these organizations. One Greek member, Kayla Conkling, philanthropic chair for Alpha Sigma Tau, had the initiative to start a prep group for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) to help all pre-medical students, not just those involved in Greek life. These leadership skills help set up a future for success.

"All the leadership skills and opportunities that I have gained within ASA have helped me get an internship as well as potential jobs for when I graduate," said Amy Lee, Alpha Sigma Alpha president.

Many Greek members hold positions in other organizations on campus. They are involved in Presidents Leadership Class, Student Government Association, Campus Activities Team, the Honors Program, Student Organization for Disability Awareness and more. The Greek community also pairs with other student organizations for fundraising and awareness.

A major focus of Greek life is philanthropy. Each of the four chapters has their own philanthropic causes, including connections with the Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, St. Jude's Children's Hospital, The Alzheimer's Research Foundation, the Fisher House Foundation for the Military Heroes Campaign, Relay for Life and others. Many members stay active in community service after graduation and some have gone on to work for non-profit organizations.

Greek members say their chapters create a group of peers that are like family. Many of the students in these organizations have explained how they have personally benefitted.

"The social aspect of the organization is important but is not what Greek life is all about," said Chris Tull, Tau Kappa Epsilon president. "I have gained an amazing support system."

Joining a fraternity was something that Tull never foresaw. He came to RSU as a non-traditional freshman looking to get a degree and was approached about joining a fraternity.

"I was intimidated coming to RSU as a 23-year-old. I had no interest in joining any organizations or being involved on campus," Tull said. "After learning more about the fraternity, joining helped me feel more accepted, encouraged me out of my comfort zone and into a sweet spot to learn."

Stories like this are common. Phillip Bright, a freshman and new member of Kappa Sigma, mentioned that he wasn't interested in joining at first either.

"I started hanging out with the guys more and decided it was something I wanted to be a part of," Bright said.

The presence of Greek life has benefitted not only the students, but the campus as well.

Candice Apt, coordinator of student activities, was an active Greek at RSU.

"Being a part of the Greek system helps to develop leadership skills, gets students involved on campus in ways other than class and provides a service like no other student organization on campus can," Apt said. "Having a Greek system on campus has created more vibrant student life and has increased the amount of students that participate in campus events."

Cathy Coomer, assistant professor in the communications department and general manager of RSU Radio, is a Greek alumna from Pittsburg State University. She recalls what RSU was like before Greek life was present.

"RSU was more of a commuter school with a lot of non-traditional students, so Friday's were dead. There was no reason to stay," she said. "With the addition of the Greek system, there are more events and activities. The attendance of activities has risen for campus events."

The benefits gained from being a part of a Greek organization continue well after graduation. A group of about eight women, who Coomer refers to as her "sisters," still get together every year even though they live far away.

"You build great relationships and friendships that last for life," Coomer said.

Phylicia Freytag, president of Alpha Sigma Tau, mentioned that she had a pact between friends in high school about not joining a sorority.

"A lot of people think Greek life isn't for them," she said. "Greek life is for everyone. You just have to find where you belong."

Greek life at RSU is a diverse experience that encompasses friendship, academic success, involvement on campus and within the community and opportunities for future success.

"There is no doubt that going Greek was the best decision that I have ever made. It has helped me become a strong leader, a confident public speaker and I have made friendships that I know will last forever," Lee said.

By Lindsay Bolt, RSU PR Intern