Student Organizations are an amazing part of college life. They’re a great way of getting to know new people, and there’s no denying that Greek organizations are some of the most recognizable student organizations for making new friends. Movies like Neighbors, Pitch Perfect, and the classic sorority movie, Legally Blonde, leave an impression on people about fraternity and sorority life as most of these movies concern the social lives of the members of these organizations. However, largely focusing on the social aspect of Greek life in these films and shows makes people forget about the academic and philanthropic purposes of sororities and fraternities, and because of this reputation driven by media the members of these organizations suffer blows to the number of students who join.
Middle Tennessee State University boasts a wide variety of Greek organizations led by the Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life, Leslie Merritt, who works with both Panhellenic and Non-panhellenic organizations on campus to dispel false generalizations or rumors about Greek life and encourages all students to take part the recruitment process during the spring and fall semesters if they want to make long-lasting friendships with people who are academically focused, value community service, and strive to be leaders on campus.
“People tend to think that you have to fit some type of cookie cutter mold to join,” Merritt said about Greek life stereotypes, “I am proud to say that our FSL community is incredibly diverse with regard to race, religion, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, interests, majors, and so much more!”
Currently, MTSU’s six panhellenic sororities are going through the process of recruiting new members for the spring semester. Recruitment during the spring is a casual affair, with each chapter showcasing the relationships they have with one another through game and movie nights, hot chocolate and ice cream socials, and any other event to get to know each other and potential new members better (PNMs). Even while doing important philanthropic work these sororities all showcase how diverse and unique their chapters can be, and Merritt promises that all it takes to meet your future besties in Greek Life is to be open to it and to bring a friend for extra comfort.
“I do want to remind anyone interested in joining FSL, that you must be willing to put yourself out there and attend events and talk to members. This could feel uncomfortable for some, but I can assure you it will pay off in the end.”
Meet MTSU’s Six Panhellenic Sororities
Each of MTSU’s Panhellenic sororities has a different philanthropy that they raise money for all year round, and all of them are amazing causes! All these chapters are located on Greek Row and, according to Merritt, “are incredibly welcoming and ready to accept new members!”
Alpha Chi Omega
Alpha Chi Omega was founded on October 15, 1885, and MTSU’s Iota Chi chapter resides on House 3 on Greek Row. Their colors are scarlet red and olive green and their symbols are the red carnation and the lyre.
Alpha Chi Omega’s philanthropy revolves Domestic Violence Awareness, Prevention and Education. They host local charity events towards this cause including their Carnation ball and Mr. Alpha Chi, as well as celebrating Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, hosting Domestic Violence Awareness panels and Healthy Relationships Week, which focuses on encouraging people to define what love really means to them and falls around Valentine’s Day.
Alpha Delta Pi
The Epsilon Tau chapter of Alpha Delta Pi lives in House 2, and their organization was founded on May 15, 1851 and was the first secret society exclusively for women and the first sorority on MTSU’s campus. Their symbols are the diamond and the woodland violet and their colors are azure blue and white.
Alpha Delta Pi serves the various Ronald McDonald House Charities, and they especially take part in giving to the Nashville location. Their local events consist of Operation Christmas Child, Give Love to Nashville General Hospital, and a five-day-long event they call “Diamond Days” consisting of a cornhole tournament and other events that raise thousands of dollars each year for families with children who are very ill or injured.
Alpha Omicron Pi
House 1 on the Row belongs to the Rho Omicron chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi, which was founded on January 2, 1897. Their symbol is the Infinity rose, their flower is the Jacqueminot rose, and their colors are rose and cardinal.
They work with the Arthritis Foundation in order to raise money, awareness and understanding for arthritis and also give locally to the Special Kids therapy and nursing center for children with special needs. They host local events like the Special Kids race and Run for the Roses, and their most popular events are All Sing, a Pitch Perfect-like singing and dancing competition that all Greek organizations are encouraged to participate in, and the Strike Out Arthritis BBQ, a partner event with MTSU’s Baseball team where a child affected by Juvenile Arthritis gets to throw the first pitch of the game and sticks around for some delicious BBQ.
Founded on April 5, 1895 and with their Zeta Theta chapter posted up in House 4 on Greek Row is Chi Omega, who holds the title of the largest women’s fraternal organization in the world. Their symbol is the skull and crossbones, their flower is the white carnation, and their colors are cardinal and straw.
Chi Omega allies themselves with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and they host events locally like Swishes for Wishes, Wish Week, and their on-campus music festival, ChiOChella, in order to raise money for children with difficult illnesses to grant wishes that will often give them and their families joy and help them through medical treatment and often improving that child’s physical health through happiness and hope. Chi Omega is acknowledged by Make-A-Wish as one of their most significant sponsors, as they’ve collectively raised more than 26 million dollars for the organization.
Kappa Delta’s Delta Pi chapter sits happily in House 6 on Greek Row, and their organization was founded on October 23, 1897. Their symbols are the Nautilus shell and the dagger, their flower is the white rose, and their colors are olive green and pearl white.
The philanthropies the Kappa Deltas serve is Prevent Child Abuse America, the Girls Scouts of America, the Orthopedic Research Awards, and the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. Their biggest local fundraising event is Wing Fling where they partner with local restaurants for all-you-can-eat chicken, games, raffles, and music open to the whole community. They also celebrate International Girl’s Day on November 14 and often host events with the local Girl Scout troops where the activities center around building confidence in themselves.
Zeta Tau Alpha
In House 7 near the end of Greek Row resides Zeta Tau Alpha’s Iota Chi chapter, whose national organization was founded on October 15, 1898. Their symbol is the five point crown, their flower is the white violet, and their colors are turquoise and steel gray.
Zeta Tau Alpha specializes in Breast Cancer Education and Awareness and partners with prestigious organizations for this cause including the American Cancer Society, nonprofit organization Bright Pink, and the National Football League. They invite the campus and the community to take place in their local events including the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk and Crucial Catch with the Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Wild Wings Give Back Night, the Pink Pancake breakfast, and an event where the participants make pinwheels for breast cancer education and awareness.
These chapters all have different causes, different characteristics and different stories but the value they share is giving to those in need alongside the people closest to you in the world. These organizations are made up of leaders, scholars, trend-setters, and most importantly: friends who will stand by one another through thick and thin. For those who aren’t sure where they could fit in or if they could ever do something that matters at MTSU, try going through spring recruitment or even formal recruitment next fall. Take a chance on finding the people who will help you become the person you were meant to be and keep the wise words of Merritt in mind.
“Our organizations provide a great deal of community service opportunities to those in need. However, I think the best part of our membership is the opportunity to find real and lasting friendships on campus. MTSU can feel like a really large university but joining one of our chapters can make it feel more like home.”
Author Kylie Wellington is a junior at MTSU majoring in Public Relations and minoring in Theatre and Mass Communication. The views and opinions expressed above are her own.