By Olivia Fleming
There is no doubt that college can oftentimes be overwhelming and the pressure to make friends and find your niche can be challenging. It may be difficult to fit in in a new environment, especially if you aren’t familiar with the people. By joining Greek life, you will be able to have the college experience you wish for.
The University of Tampa offers seven chapters within the College Panhellenic Association. Alpha Chi Omega, Delta Phi Epsilon, Delta Gamma, Delta Zeta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Sigma Kappa, and Sigma Delta Tau are the sororities on campus that students can join.
“I have met such amazing people and my closest friends through this sorority,” said Mackenzie Byrne, sister of Sigma Delta Tau. “I have been provided so many opportunities and experiences within the sorority and my college experience would be so different had I chosen to not join.”
The fraternity and sorority life is on the smaller side with only 21 percent of the undergraduate student population being involved at UT. Becoming a part of the Greek community can offer students hands-on experience in leadership roles, an academic support system, managing budgets, and alumni engagement while forming close bonds of friendship and a support system like no other.
Sisterhood is a major factor in sororities providing sisters with a feeling of purpose and belonging. Finding your home away from home is something that everyone hopes for. Having a group of women by your side to pick you up when you fall is so important.
“I have gone through some really hard times in college and every time it was the women in this chapter that picked me up, dusted me off, and kept me going,” said Emily Muller, President of Alpha Chi Omega. “They truly make me a better person every day and for that, I want to be the most committed person and reciprocate all the support and love they have given me.”
Each sorority elects a sister whose primary role is to make sure sisters are keeping up their grades. If sisters are falling behind in class it is the elected sister’s job to provide resources for academic help.
“I joined Sigma Kappa because I felt a sense of community and true sisterhood when I went through recruitment,” said Abrianna Lang, sister of Sigma Kappa.“Compared to the rest of the chapters, Sigma Kappa is where I felt at home. I also really resonated with our philanthropies.”
Community service in sorority life is crucial. Each chapter requires sisters to have a minimum number of community service hours each semester if they want to attend formal and be active members of the sorority. Improving the community and volunteering teaches women about compassion and understanding. Each sorority supports different philanthropic causes and devotes hours of its time to raising money for these organizations.
“Our philanthropy is Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention and as someone with a personal connection to the philanthropy I loved the idea of being a part of a community that helps make a change and positively impacts other lives affected by DV,” said Muller.
Holding a leadership position not only benefits sisters while in college but allows girls to develop skills that will help them after they graduate. Members learn how to communicate effectively while working in a team setting, plan events, connect with the community, and manage their time wisely.
“We offer leadership positions through various areas such as finances, academics, philanthropy, sisterhood, social events, membership, and Panhellenic. There is a main executive board, then there are chair positions, and there are also opportunities to be assistants to many sisters,” said Lang.
The Panhellenic community at UT is amazing since all the chapters are supportive of each other. Each chapter hosts a signature event every semester in support of their philanthropy and members of all the Greek organizations on campus are welcome to attend.
‘Panhel Love’ is important to the Greek community at UT. While other schools may offer bigger more exclusive sororities, the chapters at UT are smaller sized and provide a supportive community no matter what chapter you are in.
“Speaking from experience, the best way to make friends in your chapter is by going to everything you can,” said Ally Stanfa, sister of Sigma Delta Tau. “If I did not sign up for a million random things as a freshman I wouldn’t be as close with half the girls.”
Joining a sorority is a great way to develop yourself as an individual. The best way to make the most of your time is to participate in as many activities as you can. The benefits of sororities are endless; you get what you put into them.
I joined Sigma Delta Tau in the fall of my freshman year and I’m truly so happy that I did. I set a goal for myself to get some type of leadership position after I was initiated. Since then I have held two positions on the chair board. Once I finally worked up the guts to make a speech at Sunday’s chapter that is. If you want to get the most out of the experience, my advice would be to push yourself. It’s not easy always putting yourself out there but it is so rewarding knowing you got your foot in the door and gave it your all.
“Joining Alpha Chi Omega is probably the best decision I’ve made in my years at college,” said Christina Brann, sister of Alpha Chi Omega. “Since joining a sorority I finally feel like I can be myself. It allowed me to get out of my shell and meet girls I now consider family.”
Some believe sorority life isn’t for them. I still recommend going through the recruitment process. Having the opportunity to talk to girls whom you’ve never met before can be overwhelming and frightening at first, but it builds confidence for when you need to go on real job interviews. Everyone is in the same boat and going through the process together and while everyone’s experience is different it truly is such a great one.
Formal recruitment takes place at the beginning of the fall semester and some sororities offer COB (continuous open bidding) in the spring.
“You will end up exactly where you belong, there is a sorority for everyone. You have to be yourself and branch out,” said Byrne.