Your son or daughter has joined or is considering joining a Fraternity or Sorority at WSU, now what? Many parents have the same questions and we've worked hard at finding the answers. Below are some of the most frequently asked questions by parents along with responses from current parents of Greek members, Greek chapter advisors and our WSU Greek Advisor. If you can't find your question on the list, give us a shout and we'll be happy to help! firstname.lastname@example.org or 316.978.3022
1. My son/daughter has decided to go Greek, now what?
This is an exciting time in your child’s life – attending college with new surroundings, perhaps living away from home for the first time – and now your child announces that he/she wants to go Greek. Greek?! Isn’t that what the movie Animal House was all about?
Greek life can be a wonderful experience for your child. Sororities and fraternities offer friendship, networking, community, and, for lack of a better word, fun. While most movies, press, etc. focus on the sometimes out of control socialization aspect, the truth is that students who go Greek tend to have higher GPA’s than the university average and are more apt to stay in college and finish their degrees. This is true at Wichita State University. Because of the focus on philanthropies, students also learn about teamwork, leadership, and the fulfillment of helping others as part of their Greek experience, which can help shape their adult lives in terms of community service, perhaps even solidifying a career direction.
Sororities and fraternities do have high standards for their new members. This includes having a good GPA and being involved in activities in high school. Not everyone who wants to go Greek has those qualifications, which is important for students who are contemplating going through the recruitment process. It is also important to understand the time commitment involved in joining a Greek organization; not only are members expected to be involved in the organization and on campus, they are also expected to do well in their studies. Finally, it is also important to look at the financial aspect of joining a sorority or fraternity. Each chapter is different, so it is important to have that discussion with your child before she/he goes through the recruitment process.
The benefits of going Greek are endless and can last for a lifetime. If your child has made the decision to go Greek, congratulations! Sandy Sipes, Greek Alumna and Faculty/Staff Advisor for Beta Theta Pi
2. Does my son/daughter have to live in a Greek chapter house?
The short answer is, for the most part, no, however there are some circumstances where they are required to live in.
Four of the five Panhellenic chapters, two of the Interfraternity Council Chapters and all of the Multicultural Greek Council chapters do not have live in housing available to their members. Most of those listed do not even have a chapter house and members meet on campus. For those who do offer housing, specific officers are required to live-in as part of their officer position. Some Fraternities require Sophomores to live-in and others have no requirements whatsoever. It is important for your son/daughter to ask what the expectations are prior to joining an organization. Gina Stewart, Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life
3. What opportunities are there for involvement for me? Will I be required to do anything?
"As a parent, there are several ways you can be involved in your son's or daughter's Greek experience, all of which are voluntary. Almost all the chapters have parents' clubs. The activity levels of these clubs vary from chapter to chapter, but some activities might include the group hosting a dinner for the Hippodrome participants or helping with the chapter's philanthropy event. Another way you can be involved is by attending the chapter's Mom's Day or Dad's Day. At these events, you will get to do a fun activity with your child while getting to know other parents. My recommendation would be to attend any event your child invites you to. You'll gain an understanding of the organization your child joined and have lots of fun to boot!" Cathy Durano, Greek Alumna and Parent to a Delta Gamma daughter and a Phi Delta Theta son
4. Will my son/daughter really get anything out of it?
"YES! It is understandable to be skeptical about the value of Greek life, especially due to the stories you may hear about in the media, or as it may be portrayed on TV or in film, or based on your own college experience. As an active alumna who has been fighting the Greek stereotype for 21 years, I can assure you Greek life has the ability to change lives in a positive way. I just spent a week with the Gamma Phi Beta chapter in preparing for formal recruitment and I continue to be impressed at the positive impact our WSU Greek community is making on campus, in the Wichita area and nationally. For many students, their Greek chapter is literally their home away from home. Some new students feel alone and are unsure of what the next four (or more) years will be like. And they are overwhelmed. A Greek chapter provides a level of encouragement and support students don’t find anywhere else. For other students, they needed something to do to feel like they are contributing to their campus, and many Greek members have found that their chapter has provided a level of involvement, and more importantly opportunity unlike any other organization. Last week, I heard personal story after story about how grateful our members were that they could go somewhere to be themselves (not what their parents or others wanted them to be), where their friends would support them (whether studying for a test, crying over a partner, or connecting them to a potential job), and where they could depend on others to challenge them to reach their potential. So, yeah. If you ask me, your student will get much more out of their Greek chapter than what they put in. It has certainly been worth it for me for the last 21 years." Kim Sandlin, Greek Alumna and Chapter Advisor for Gamma Phi Beta
5. How have you seen your son/daughter grow since they went Greek?
"Being Greek at WSU has given our daughter significant opportunities to expand leadership abilities, to increase responsibility for herself and her organization, and diversify an ever increasing community of friends. Opportunities not only within her specific chapter, but also in the Greek community and the student body. It has encouraged interaction with faculty and challenged her to be her best scholastically. Our son was a part of the Greek community on another campus and shared the same type of growth. We believe the Greek system is an important part of Wichita State University and is a benefit to the students." Denis and Shirley Dieker, Greek Alumi, Advisors and Parents to an Alpha Phi daughter and a Sigma Phi Epsilon son
6. I'm not Greek, I don't understand this, why would my son/daughter want to do this?
"I have two daughters that joined the WSU Greek life. I certainly did not understand the opportunity, provide much support, or understand why my kids wanted to join. I am glad that my children did join WSU sororities. I had the opportunity to meet and be part of a very special group of ladies that are more concerned about their involvement and helping others in the community than looking pretty or finding a boyfriend. As a parent I have also seen how these ladies help each other with their studies and support each other when needed. I have seen my two daughters create a large circle of friends that will last a lifetime. After all my involvement with the sororities I certainly approve of and support the WSU Greek system!" Paul Daemen, Parent to a Delta Delta Delta daughter and a Delta Gamma daughter
7. What are all the costs associated with Greek Life?
"This is a very important question to ask an organization prior to accepting an invitiation to membership. Each organization has an extensive dues structure and should be able to clearly articulate all of the costs and exactly what the money is used for. From paying fees to (Inter)National Headquarters, to maintaining chapter houses to providing dinner on a Monday night, all dues are accounted for and budgeted appropriately within the chapter. Organizations offer payment plans and scholarships to help assist members with their dues or for academic support. I actually earned more in scholarships and fellowships than I ever paid in chapter dues. I didn't just "pay for my friends," I paid for my education, a network and every job I've had since my sophomore year in college." Gina Stewart, Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life
8. My son/daughter just signed a bunch of papers and now they are a member of a Fraternity/Sorority...can they legally do that?
"Another important area to clearly understand before your son/daughter signs anything. Engage in a conversation about what they are signing, if they have read it and what do they understand it to mean. All new members will be required to sign a "bid card" accepting membership into an organization. This card also states the member will not participate in hazing activities, adhere to the bylaws and constitution of their organization and serves as a grade release for scholastic programming purposes. Many chapters also have documents which must be completed for membership intake purposes for their headquarters. These documents are binding agreements and hold your son/daughter to membership obligations within the organization. If your son/daughter or you ever have any questions about what they are signing, ask to speak to a chapter advisor about the documents or give Student Involvement a call (316.978.3022) so we can make sure you are fully comfortable while still acknowledging that, if 18 or over, your son/daughter is an adult and will start to be in more of these situations in the future." Gina Stewart, Coordinator of Fraternity and Sorority Life
9. Will my son/daughter be hazed, forced to drink alcohol or forced to participate in something they don't feel comfortable doing?
"Wichita State has a strict non-hazing policy. Hazing not only includes physical tribulations, but also mental. Being forced to consume alcohol or being placed in an uncomfortable situation is considered hazing. If your son/daughter experiences anything even close to these situations, I hope that the student will report the incident. As a chapter counselor, I have conversations with the undergraduates I work with to make sure that activities cannot be construed as hazing." Jason Carlson, Greek Alumni and Chapter Counselor for Beta Theta Pi
10. What questions should I be asking to help my son/daughter make the best decision for himself/herself?
When your son/or daughter is considering membership in a Greek-Letter organization, start by asking what has peaked their interest in membership. Students consider membership for many reasons, but those reasons should be well-vetted.
Joining a sorority or fraternity can be a life-long commitment. It is important for your son or daughter students to understand what the benefits of membership are as well as some of the costs, financial and otherwise.
Participants in the WSU Greek system are highly engaged on campus and develop leadership skills via their co-curricular activities. Balancing involvement, academic obligations and family responsibilities is a charge placed on every Greek member. Discuss the ability to balance these roles and duties and how to make healthy and responsible choices as a member of a well-respected sub-group of the WSU student body.
Finally, talk to your son or daughter about what they plan to contribute to their selected organization. Greek life, like many other opportunities, is only as great as you make it. Joining is much more about philanthropy, community service, personal and professional development, and leadership than it is about parties. Being Greek is about working to make oneself and their community better. The t-shirt and colors are just the souvenir of the experience.
Kaye Monk-Morgan, Greek Alumna and Faculty/ Staff Advisor for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.