Greek Life contributes to UWO community

Alex Nemec

Members of Greek Life organizations on UWO’s campus work on homework and study together outside of Polk Library.
[/media-credit] Members of Greek Life organizations on UWO’s campus work on homework and study together outside of Polk Library.
UW Oshkosh students involved in Greek Life get pied in the face by fellow students to raise money for charity.
[/media-credit] UW Oshkosh students involved in Greek Life get pied in the face by fellow students to raise money for charity.

As stereotypes and stigmas continue to grow about Greek Life on college campuses, UW Oshkosh students are trying to change the way society sees fraternities and sororities.
Austin Karraker, president of the Interfraternity council at UWO, said Greek Life stereotypes are overplayed in the world, especially in Hollywood.
“When you go and you watch ‘Neighbors’ or ‘Animal House’, it’s a very small niche that people really seem to overemphasize,” Karraker said.
President of the Panhellenic Conference, which is the umbrella organization that looks over 26 sororities nationwide, Kerry McCarthy said they are aware of stereotypes, but they are also always wearing their chapter letters on their sleeves.
“I don’t think we ignore the stereotypes, we try to disprove them in wearing our letters and going out in the community being leaders and doing service projects and stuff like that as well,” McCarthy said.
UWO student Aaron Jarosh said he recognizes the stereotypes Greek Life, especially fraternities, have faced.
“I feel that there’s been a big hole that’s been dug, and will continue to stay there from portrayals within the media and what actually does get picked up,” Jarosh said. “It’s easier to sell a story that’s about the failings of a group rather than their actual triumphs.”
Karraker said there is a social aspect to fraternities, but the way they are portrayed isn’t representative of who they are.
“I really enjoy that we play a football game against another fraternity, or we do a potluck dinner with Gamma Phi,” Karraker said. “So there’s a social aspect absolutely, but there’s so much more than just socializing.”
Karraker, who is also a founding father of the Delta Chi chapter on campus, said Delta Chi works with the Jimmy V Foundation, which is a charity founded by ESPN and Jimmy Valvano in 1993 to try and find a cure for cancer.
“Any money we raise we try to donate towards the Jimmy V Foundation,” Karraker said.
The UWO Greek Life office donates all of the money they get in their fundraisers towards the local Make-A-Wish office.
“Last semester we raised $2,000 to help make a kid’s wish come true in the area,” Karraker said. “So that’s something we’re again working on this semester to hopefully double that or do something to get more money just to help a local area kid, it’s a little bit more personal for everyone.”
Karraker said when someone isn’t totally sold on joining Greek Life, it’s important to let them know everything that Greek Life does.
“People don’t always understand that we have study hours that are due every single week based off your GPA,” Karraker said. “We have philanthropy hours, you have to do service hours, you have to maintain a minimum GPA, you have to have a code of ethics that you constantly hold up. So I think that when people start realizing there is so much depth to it, then they’re more willing to kind of start to consider it.”
McCarthy said they’re very open and honest with people who are on the fence about joining.
“We’re very open about what our expectations are, what being a part of Greek Life actually means,” McCarthy said. “We like sitting down with people and just having that open conversation. If they don’t end up going Greek, that’s ok, you know it’s not for everyone, but we like having that conversation so that they know a little more about us.”
McCarthy said Greek Life tries to get the local area community around UWO involved as well because they realize they are part of the Oshkosh community as a whole, even though they have their own philanthropy.
“We did a pie in the face event,” McCarthy said. “So, me and [Karraker] and the rest of the community leaders and faculty and staff got up on Albee patio, and people could pay to pie us in the face.”
Karraker said he got started in Greek Life when he was referred to it by his friends.
“I was kind of thinking about one organization, but then I got a phone call from Delta Chi when they were expanding,” Karraker said. “They said I had been referred to them by a couple people and wanted to sit down and talk to me. After about a 15 minute sit down with them I knew I really want[ed] to commit to it.”
McCarthy said she came to college knowing she wanted to be a part of Greek Life and did her research before she arrived.
“I kind of knew beforehand where I was leaning towards, but then I went through recruitment and got to meet all of them and that really sold me,” McCarthy said.
Karraker said the importance of keeping an open mind about Greek Life is the message they are trying to get across.
“Usually there’s people that come to campus and they’re either thinking, ‘100 percent. I’m going to join.’ And then there’s the opposite end of the spectrum [who] are 100 percent, they won’t join,” Karraker said. “We’re really looking for everyone. I think that once you actually get to know the chapters on a personal basis, and you don’t just know them as some fraternity and some sorority…it really opens it up and you realize that these are just guys like you.”
Amy Scott, a student on campus, said if she was an incoming freshman she would think it would be a good idea to join Greek Life.
“It helps orientate different aspects of cultures, where people come from, different ways of life,” Scott said. “It’s a better way to create friends.”
McCarthy said fraternities and sororities get excited when people are interested in talking with them and learning more about them.
“We really like getting the message of Greek Life out there,” McCarthy said. “…It’s so much fun to share what we do and get people involved in that too, because we want people to have the experiences we’ve had.”