Indiana State University Newsroom



Fraternities and sororities celebrate a banner year

May 28, 2014

When senior Megan Kaczmarski arrived on the Indiana State University campus as a freshman, she had sports and an education on her mind.

"I was a four-sport athlete from Valparaiso," she said. "All I wanted to do was play basketball."

Shortly after classes began, Kaczmarski started seeing materials advertising sorority recruitment. She didn't think it was a good fit.

"I didn't wear makeup. I didn't wear dresses and I didn't own a pair of heels," she said.

It wasn't until the women shattered that stereotype - describing the leadership and athletic opportunities, community service and sense of family that she reconsidered. She ended up joining Alpha Omicron Pi sorority later that fall.

"My whole perception of sorority life changed," she said. "I was an only child, so having 65 sisters sounded crazy. We're all individuals that make up one big family."

Kaczmarski thrived - playing on a team that won the intramural basketball championship two years in a row, making a difference in the community and serving as president of Indiana State's Panhellenic Council.

"I don't know who I would be without fraternity and sorority life," she concluded.

Kaczmarski was part of a banner year for fraternity and sorority life at Indiana State - from membership, service and academics to facilities. Recent efforts earned them regional and national recognition such as the 2012-13 National Panhellenic Conference Excellence Award and two individual awards from the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values Central Conference.

In just three years, the number of students affiliated with fraternities or sororities jumped from 883 to 1207, a 37 percent increase. The number of chapters on campus also increased - with Phi Gamma Delta, Kappa Alpha Psi, Omega Psi Phi, Theta Chi and Lambda Chi Alpha receiving charters.

According to Bo Mantooth, director of fraternity and sorority life, the growth is "the result of a lot of hard work by the students, alumni, our office, and campus partners to share our story and what we are doing to enhance the student's out-of-the-classroom experience."

Mantooth said the number of chapters will increase even more in the next couple of years as the historically Black chapters of the National Pan-Hellenic Council come back to campus and Delta Sigma Phi joins the Interfraternity Council in spring 2015.

"Our goal is to see a population around 20 percent (of total students) in three years," he said. "At the same time, we want to continue to develop our students into leaders, so they can make their organizations stronger."

Indiana State’s effort comes as a new Gallup survey finds that college graduates who were members of fraternities or sororities are more likely to be “thriving” in their well-being and engaged at work. Gallup partnered with the National Panhellenic Conference and the North-American Interfraternity Conference to conduct the study of 30,000 college graduates across the U.S.

Josh Cox, a member of Phi Gamma Delta and executive vice president of Interfraternity Council, said being part of a large community has made a difference in his college experience.

"I became Greek as a sophomore," Cox said. "I wasn't involved in anything my freshman year. My college experience since then has been incredible. I've met tons of new people and have become involved in many activities."

James Gardner, a member of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, said becoming a member was a lifeline to campus."I was the only one from my high school at Indiana State," he said. "I got involved in campus activities as much as I could. It's the only reason I stayed here."

Connecting students with each other and campus is one thing, creating a sense of community through housing is an area of constant improvement. Housing has evolved in recent years, with Sigma Alpha Epsilon building a new house and sorority housing making a move.

Eight sororities currently in Lincoln Quad will be housed in Reeve Hall, which will open this fall, providing a centralized location for most of Indiana State's sorority women to live, conduct chapter meetings, recruitment activities and events.

"Having 360 women together will create a living-learning community for members and will help them succeed academically," Mantooth said.

The close-knit family dynamic provides motivation to succeed academically. And a little competition within and among chapters doesn't hurt.

Nick Spencer, a member of Kappa Alpha and vice president of recruitment for Interfraternity Council, said chapter members form academic teams and compete against each other.

"The team with the highest GPA gets served dinner," he said.

Gardner said his chapter requires members with GPAs above 3.0 to tutor a set number of hours a week. Members with a GPA of below 3.0 are required to do study hours.

"We try to get the whole chapter involved," Gardner said.

Kaczmarski said success in the classroom is ingrained in the Panhellenic philosophy.

"We encourage our sisters to do well academically," she said. "One of our values is scholarship."

The commitment to academic success translates into higher graduation and retention rates, according Division of Student Affairs research.

For students who started school in 2009, 60.5 percent of fraternity/sorority members graduated, or continued their studies, versus 41.5 percent for students who were not members of fraternities and sororities.

"The emotional connection of being in a fraternity or sorority is one of the most powerful things. It's like being part of a family," said Nolan Davis, associate vice president for student affairs.

For Spencer, that connection meant everything.

"I planned to transfer the second semester of my freshman year," he said. "Then I joined Kappa Alpha and found true best friends. I can't imagine leaving here now."

In addition to finding success in the classroom, fraternity and sorority members are becoming engaged citizens, a hallmark of Indiana State.

"Community service drew me to Greek life," said Emily Sturgess, a member of Chi Omega.

In addition to performing service, members fundraise for 38 nonprofit organizations.

Some activities, like Pi Kappa Alpha's annual Change for Change fundraiser, raise awareness about a local issue in addition to raising money.

"Members take turns sleeping in boxes for three nights," said Logan Seger, a past president. "The money we collect during this event goes to Bethany House to purchase toys for kids at Christmas."

"In 2009, our chapters raised $41,000 for their philanthropies," Mantooth said. "In 2012, chapters raised more than $60,000."

But there's more to it than fundraising, said Emile Gottsche, a member of Alpha Sigma Alpha sorority. "It's the interaction we have with the people we're raising money for," she said.

Brandon Pounds, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, agrees.

"We go over to Ryves Hall and play with the kids and help them with their homework," Pound said. "For some of those kids, we're their role models, big brothers and part of the family. That's a great feeling."

A sense of camaraderie and collaboration can be found among Indiana State's fraternities and sororities. "Chapters here don't hate each other," Cox said. "I have friends in other chapters that I can ask for help and receive it."

Pounds said the collegial atmosphere goes beyond color.

"There's never been competition between black and white Greek organizations. There is no disrespect," he said. "That isn't the case everywhere."

"This community is on the right track," Gardner said. "We have a bright future on campus."

 

By the Numbers:

$60,000+ -- Amount raised by fraternities and sororities for philanthropic organizations.

22,079 - Number of community service hours logged by Indiana State fraternities and sororities in 2012-13.

1207 - Number of students who are members of a fraternity or sorority.

137 - Number of officers in student organizations who are members of fraternities or sororities.

30 - Number of national leadership and excellence awards earned by Indiana State fraternities and sororities.

25 - Number of chapters on campus.

14 - Percentage of the Indiana State student population who are members of fraternities and sororities.

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications and Marketing, 812-237-3783 or paula.meyer@indstate.edu  

 

Story Highlights

Recent efforts earned Indiana State regional and national recognition such as the 2012-13 National Panhellenic Conference Excellence Award and two individual awards from the Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values Central Conference.

See Also:

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