Sarah Saad wrote a column, titled “How BU policy encourages unregulated Greek life,” in which she argued that the policies restricting first-semester freshmen and Binghamton Advantage Program (BAP) students from joining Greek life promote the growth of unrecognized Greek organizations. While it may be easy to draw this connection, I don’t believe campus policy and unrecognized organizations are related. These policies are put in place to uphold the Greek life community’s values and ultimately benefit its new members.
The Greek life community is a great place for new students to socialize and make lifelong friends, but it is about so much more than just that. The aim of the Greek community is to promote strong values among its members, shown through its five pillars: scholarship, service, unity, respect and leadership. The policy that restricts first-semester freshmen and BAP students is in place so that these students can take the time to focus on what is truly important — academics.
All new students need an adjustment period, during which they can get comfortable with the academic rigor here at Binghamton University. Joining a Greek organization is a commitment that is unlike any other on campus. New members of Greek life attend weekly chapter meetings, learn the history and values of their chapters, participate in philanthropy events and engage with the Greek community as a whole. If recruitment were open to first-semester freshmen and BAP students, they would become so involved with Greek life that they would not have the opportunity to adjust to school, and their grades may suffer as a result.
These pillars and values are what separate recognized organizations from those that are unrecognized. Those new members that share the community’s values will see the validity and purpose of these rules. Those who don’t see the value, and are more interested in finding a group to socialize with, will seek out unrecognized organizations. Unfortunately, there is not much the on-campus community can do to stop these individuals from joining unrecognized organizations. The only thing that can be done is to continually improve the recognized chapters and make decisions that are in line with the Greek community’s values. If this is done, increased membership will follow.
In short, if on-campus chapters are losing new members to unrecognized organizations, that says more about what the community has to offer than about its policies.
On-campus chapters should make their focus offering their members more opportunities in leadership, scholarship and service, as opposed to being focused on competing with off-campus organizations. On-campus Greek life is not competing with unrecognized organizations for members because they have higher standards for membership. In order to recruit more quality members, the Greek community needs to stick to its values and attract new members through commitment to academics, philanthropy and strong leadership.
Patricia Cholakis is a senior studying integrative neuroscience and the former president of the Binghamton Panhellenic Council.