Since the beginning of the academic year, Eastern Kentucky University’s campus has been busy with students dressed in Greek attire. EKU’s four Greek councils recently experienced “rush” and invited a number of students to join their respective sorority or fraternity.
Jill Verna, EKU’s program director for Fraternity and Sorority Life, agrees that being a member of Greek life is an experience many students enjoy and provides them with a number of benefits.
“I think that any student would feel welcome at a lot of our groups. I think that depending on your experience and what your values are and what you want to accomplish that there is a group there that can help foster that,” said Verna.
Greek life at EKU consists of four councils: Interfraternity (IFC), National Panhellenic (NPHC), Panhellenic (PHC) and Multicultural Greek Council (MGC). These four councils reside over 29 sorority and fraternity chapters at EKU. According to Verna, 9% of EKU’s students are involved in some form of Greek organization.
Each of these organizations have some form of “ritual” or tradition to celebrate their membership, such as being “pinned” and Founders’ Day celebrations.
Verna said, “All chapters have some form of ritual and traditions that cause their brotherhood or sisterhood to continue to leave a legacy.”
Each of the four councils is designed to appeal to four different types of students, depending on gender, ethnicity and other demographics. The Interfraternity Council contains men-affiliated groups that are social-lettered fraternities.
Trent Dolter, a sophomore psychology major from Crystal Lakes, Illinois is a member of Phi Kappa Tau, a fraternity belonging to the IFC. Dolter agrees that being a member of Greek life has a number of social and academic benefits. He was encouraged by current Phi Kappa Tau president, Kendrew Scott, to join the organization.
“I joined because I really saw something different in just regular friends and different in Greek life in general—I saw more opportunities to grow really, really close and do something good while you’re doing it,” said Dolter.
National Panhellenic, also called the Divine Nine, was created after primarily white schools continued to deny African Americans places in their fraternities and sororities.
“The purpose originally of the Divine Nine … came about when African Americans were denied access to a social fraternity or sorority for the men and women who were on predominantly white campuses,” said Verna.
Along with the IFC and NPHC, EKU is also home to seven sorority chapters belonging to the Panhellenic Council. The PHC is on both a local and national level, and consists of only Greek-lettered women.
The fourth and final Greek council at EKU is the Multicultural Greek Council. This council, founded in 2019, is based upon other schools in which students had a desire to “go Greek” but did not fit within the other councils. Currently, EKU’s MGC consists of two service-based organizations: Sigma Lambda Beta International Fraternity and Pi Lambda Chi Latina Sorority. Both of these organizations consist of primarily minority membership.
Verna said, “(MGC was designed) to have an inclusive environment for students of all backgrounds to promote diversity on campus.”
EKU’s Greek life also differs largely from other SEC schools. Unlike these schools, EKU does not have a collective set of dorms or houses set aside for sorority and fraternity members to occupy. However, like many other on-campus RSOs, North Hall is home to “clusters” of sorority members who are able to reserve a floor for members.
Due to its smaller size, EKU’s Greek life also provides students with a closer, more manageable community without sacrificing benefits. According to Dolter, this is especially true for Phi Kappa Tau.
“I feel like Greek life at EKU, especially in my fraternity, is that it is more closely knit,” said Dolter.
Alpha Omicron Pi, one of the seven Panhellenic Council chapters on EKU’s campus, is largely based on serving the campus and the community of Richmond. AOΠ’s four values include a commitment to character, dignity, scholarship and college loyalty. Much like Dolter, students agree that being a member of Greek life carries benefits beyond measure.
Sydney Shepard, a senior biomedical science major from northern Kentucky, is a member of AOΠ and has been actively involved in the organization since her freshman year.
“I knew it was something I wanted to try out. I really wanted to get involved and be a part of something bigger than myself,” said Shepard.
Shepard sees the organization as having provided her with numerous opportunities and resources. Shepard said, “I think that it not only instilled confidence and showed me what support is and looks like from a group of women. I also think that I’ve learned so many amazing skills … I was given such an amazing support system—a home away from home.”
Fellow member Hope Whitaker, a senior occupational studies major from Knoxville, Tennessee, accounts her desire to be a part of Greek life from her family life at home.
“Growing up, it was me, my mom, my grandma and my sister so I always had a lot of sisterhood and like girl power in my life and I knew that was something I wanted to carry over,” Whitaker said.
AOΠ President Jade Williams, a senior elementary education major from London, Kentucky, agrees that the benefits of being a sorority member are numerous.
Williams said, “The number one benefit would be the connections made. I never would have met the amount of people I have, not just within AOΠ but within all of Greek life.”
Shepard, Whitaker and Williams all agree that the hardest part of being a member of Greek life and AOΠ is eventually having to leave the organization behind after graduation.