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It’s usually quiet on Friday afternoons at the Zeta Mu chapter of Sigma Pi. The most that one can hear throughout the afternoon is the slow North Harrison traffic, and some of the brothers preparing for class. Last Friday was quite different — a good change for the house.
Since early in the week, my brothers had been making arrangements and decorations in preparation of our largest charity event of the year.
Friday was our annual Miss Greek pageant, and throughout the day everyone was rushing to clean, put last-minute touches on banners and arrange for transportation to downtown Lansing for the event.
The event meant a little more to some of my brothers this year as the proceeds went to the Lyme Disease Association, or LDA, a nonprofit organization devoted to awareness, prevention and treatment of this terrible disease — something no one would want to face.
We chose the organization because one of our brother’s siblings back home currently suffers from Lyme disease.
As everyone rushed about putting their efforts toward preparations, I thought about how everything we do often is looked at with intense scrutiny — from the parties we throw, to the way fraternal organizations are portrayed in the media and pop-culture.
If you were to base all your views of greek life from the parties you have attended or National Lampoon’s “Animal House,” you only have skimmed the surface.
I am a student at MSU strictly to prepare myself academically and professionally for the real world.
As a freshman, I was a non-greek and often spent much of my time studying or in the dorms with the group of friends I had made. It was comfortable. I didn’t realize how much I was missing out on.
Last semester I pledged Sigma Pi. I didn’t go there for the parties; I went there because my best friend had been on my case ever since he joined.
After contemplating everything he had been doing through the fraternity and how through his involvement he had grown and matured significantly, I was jealous of how differently he carried himself.
He had grown, and he had progressed. I had remained stagnant. It was something I saw in his maturation that drove my curiosity to Sigma Pi. It was something I wanted.
During the past fall semester, I have done more than I ever anticipated. My entire freshman year cannot even compare. I have grown socially and professionally and have been able to contribute to service projects and large scale philanthropic events like Miss Greek. I look forward to organizing this year’s Volleyball Tournament — an event that has consistently raised more than $1,000 for charity in the past.
All the while, my grades have not suffered. I have progressed through my brotherhood — something I am sure many of my fellow greeks can attest to.
After I joined, I fully understood the appeal of greek life, the unseen side that many — myself included — overlook.
Yes, greek life offers the largest parties on campus. But break the surface and there are unparalleled charity and leadership opportunities.
Our internal management and executive boards offer experience for almost any career path you can think of.
From public relations to philanthropy, there is something for everyone. The experience and responsibilities one can gain through greek life is similar to an internship.
Time management is crucial. But at the end of the day, we are all at MSU for the same reason: school.
Most houses on campus hold a minimum-GPA requirement — even an initiation GPA requirement. Grades are something we take very seriously. We take pride in national statistics that rate greek GPA’s higher than non-greek students, as well as a higher graduation rate by 21 percentage points.
Socially, greeks are forced out of their comfort zones. Inter-greek events bring the community together toward a greater goal of service.
The upcoming Greek Week brings all fraternities and sororities together in fun events that raise money for charitable causes and help improve campus.
Last year alone, the greek community came together and raised more than $240,000 for the American Cancer Society and donated more than 200 units of blood for the American Red Cross.
Through these events we come into contact with hundreds, even thousands, of students who all share a common cause. We have hundreds of opportunities to improve our social skills and professional demeanor while maintaining contact with each other and charitable organizations.
No matter what race, religion, major or interests, there is a house out there that has found common ground in order to support the greater good, all while having fun doing so.
We are not perfect; we are only human. But we ever strive to build relationships and improve the Spartan community and our home here in East Lansing.
Friday’s Miss Greek is in the past, and we consider it a great success for the LDA.
As we look forward to this week’s new member recruitment, my brothers in Sigma Pi will strive for an even larger and more successful Miss Greek next year.
We will strive to become the best brotherhood we can, and, above all, we will progress. Because as a Spartan community, that is all we ever can hope to do.
Nick Bruewer is a guest columnist at The State News and a media and information sophomore. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.