Campus Life | March 8th, 2022

At HBCUs, Students Go Greek Or Go Home

By: Marissa Wells
At HBCUs, Students Go Greek Or Go Home

Imagine it’s Set Friday. Students can be seen dressed in their flyest outfits all heading to the site of loud music and clothing vendors. DJ Loosekid starts playing C-Murder’s “Down for My N’s” and the students start to part like the red sea. Almost as if they magically appeared, all the Greek organizations start strolling to the music. Each fraternity and sorority have a unique stroll that they execute so perfectly it appears to be effortless. 

Florida A&M University’s active NPHC community is omnipresent yet still a taboo topic to discuss openly. Many students come to FAMU with no knowledge about how to join, when is the best time to do it or what they should know before they do.

FAMU students are eligible to pursue membership in a Greek organization once they have the minimum credit hours required. However, this may vary as each organization has baseline requirements as far as GPA, community service hours and campus involvement.

Former Vice President of the Beta Alpha Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Chanelle Brown says there is no specific time to pursue membership. 

“One of the benefits for students who join organizations early on is that they get to enjoy their Greek undergraduate experience life longer,” Brown said. “However, sometimes there can be benefits to waiting to apply for membership. It gives you more time to strengthen your application.”

Most Greek organizations receive hundreds of applications when they are accepting new members. When completing an application students should consider the competitiveness of applying and find a way to stand out from other applicants.

Many students apply to be members of Greek fraternities or sororities with tangible goals they can help the organization fulfill. To make their application stand out more, students should highlight what they can contribute to the organization. If they are a strong event planner or a public relations specialist, they should find a way to insert that into the application. 

Greek life contributor Eddie Francis wrote in an article on HBCULifestyle that students can find information about their prospective fraternity or sorority on the organization’s official website. Students should also research the latest news and social media posts about the organization they are interested in. 

“The best advice I can give is doing your research to see which values of the organization align with your values,” Brown said. “That’s the best way [students can find] the one that’s for them.”

Being Greek is more than what can be seen on Set Fridays. College experiences, the media portrayal and the opinions of family members can lead students to develop misconceptions about Greek life and culture.

FAMU Fraternity and Sorority Life Coordinator Edward Kincheon Jr., says students typically have a preconceived notion about what Greek fraternities and sororities are.

“A lot of our students think that Greek life is going to be like what they see in movies or on tv and they set their expectations accordingly,” Kincheon said. “They set their expectations to that perception they have.”

As students begin to research any Greek organization, they should keep an open mind. What they learn about the organization may not match their original perception, but it might still align with their personality. However, if it doesn’t, find another organization that does. Finding an organization that fits students’ personalities is key, but Kincheon warned against “changing your personality to fit the organization.”

Typically, there are financial obligations associated with joining a Greek fraternity or sorority. According to Oswego State College of New York, students can expect to pay for initiation costs and yearly membership dues for the local and national chapters. Altogether the cost of going Greek can total more than $2,000 depending on the organization students choose. In addition to these costs, students can expect to pay more if they buy any Greek paraphernalia. 

One of the advantages of Black Greek life, in particular, is that it is a lifelong commitment. If the financial obligation of the undergraduate chapter is too much, the current GPA isn’t eligible or the academic major is too time-consuming, students can consider joining a Greek organization’s graduate chapter. Joining grad chapter organizations means the opportunity to go Greek doesn’t just end on FAMU’s campus. 

Lauren Clark, current member of the North Manhattan Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. shares some benefits of graduate chapter organizations.

“I think the difference for me personally because I joined the organization through an undergraduate chapter is that you’re in the chapter a shorter period,” Clark said. “Whereas when you join an alumni chapter you’re there for a longer time.”

NPHC Greek organizations have grad chapters, and the best part is membership in an undergraduate chapter is not a requirement to join. All grad chapter members have at least a baccalaureate degree requirement and most of them are established in their career which means their chapters focus more on business, professionalism and mentorship. 

Although there are a plethora of advantages to students joining Greek organizations, there are still great experiences to be had outside of Greek fraternity and sorority life. There are so many other organizations on campus that students can join where they can find a friends, networking opportunities and an experience that cultivates their time in college.