Greeks work to redefine stereotypes at QU

Jimmy Stewart paced outside of the Commons courtyard on a Monday morning, discussing important business deals on his cell phone. He wore a white TKE sweatshirt, his hair was spiked, and he was wearing dark sunglasses. He dressed like a typical frat guy.

However, James Stewart was far from a stereotypical fraternity member. He was sincere, stressing that what he valued most about his Greek life experiences weren’t the crazy frat parties, the joy in hazing pledges, or the ability to “buy his friends”. Rather, he will always remember the opportunities he had to volunteer and truly get involved in the community. He had the opportunity to meet a wide variety of people that shared the same common interests and establish a unique sense of brotherhood that sets Greek life at Quinnipiac apart from any other organization.

On the whole, Quinnipiac Greeks are quite possibly one of the most involved groups of students on campus. Their lettered sweatshirts can be seen proudly adorned all across campus and they have raised more money for charities than any other university organization, yet these 200 some odd students remain to be the most commonly misunderstood group of individuals on campus, as they continue to be branded by anti-sorority and fraternity stereotypes.

Ever since Greek organizations were introduced onto the Quinnipiac campus in 1952, negative stereotypes arose that have given Greeks a bad name. Today, the organizations focus on the betterment of the individual, camaraderie, and community service with very little stress placed on drinking.

“People think all Greek is life is the same; that it’s just about partying, and that scares people away from the idea of joining a fraternity or sorority, but that does not apply at Quinnipiac,” Tara Tashjian, the former Vice President of Finance for Alpha Chi Omega, said.

“Sororities are stereotyped as people that can’t get friends,” one student replied.

“I don’t know why fraternities are formed in the first place,” Stephanie Gagnon, a freshman at Bentley College in Massachusetts, said.

“I’ve always just thought it was a group of people who survived hazing and felt a common bond with people,” Sean Carrera, a freshman vying for Sigma Phi Epsilon, said. “When I first thought ‘fraternity,’ I thought of the movie ‘Animal House.'”

Despite the gamut of stigmas, participants of Greek life at Quinnipiac know that these preconceived notions are false and inaccurately represent their organizations.

Ashley Thomson, a senior and the former President of Alpha Chi Omega, had to overcome the negative opinions of her friends and family in her decision to pledge.

“Two of my roommates didn’t seem to mind that I was pledging,” Thomson said. “But others made fun of me, saying I was paying for my friends and whatnot, but I knew they didn’t have any idea what they were talking about.”

“As Greeks, though, our lives are under a microscope; people always look for us to mess up, but they never see the great things that we do,” Thomson added.

Greek life at Quinnipiac has existed for over 40 years. The first two local chapters, Kappa Delta Mu and Phi Gamma Epsilon, were established in 1952. By the late 1990’s, Greek life was struggling to uphold the values it once stood for. Issues of hazing, binge drinking and poor recruitment led to a decline in Greek life. After Alpha Chi Omega emerged on campus, Greek Life began to thrive once again. Today Quinnipiac is host to four nationally-recognized Greek organizations: the sororities Alpha Chi Omega and Phi Sigma Sigma, and the fraternities Sigma Phi Epsilon and Tau Kappa Epsilon.

Andrew Turczak, President and Founding Father of Sigma Phi Epsilon said that despite what the media portrays, Greek life is not what it’s made out to be.

“People who aren’t involved with Greek life assume what they see on the news or in the movies is what really happens,” Turczak said. “They aren’t giving Quinnipiac Greek life a chance. The moral standards and values that the various chapters stand for are what is emphasized and stressed, not the partying and hazing. We focus on the betterment of the individual.”

Philip Sievering, an active member in the Tau Kappa Epsilon chapter at Quinnipiac, said that, “the most common misconception about fraternities is that we are lazy, drunk, dumb [guys].”

He feels strongly that these stereotypes are inaccurate. “Both fraternities have a higher overall GPA than the rest of the school. We are highly active around the school and hold many leadership positions around campus,” Sievering said.

Jimmy Stewart, for example, raised his GPA from a 2.3 to a 3.8 in one semester after pledging to Tau Kappa Epsilon.

“I don’t think Greek life at Quinnipiac is anywhere near the same as Greek life at other schools, Natalie Morrissey, a member of Phi Sigma Sigma, said. “The Greek organizations here are focused on service and academics”

Quinnipiac Greeks have the highest organizational GPA on campus and have statistically higher graduation rates than non-Greeks

“Greek Life has brought people closer together, It reflects the culture of the school,” Cara Jenkins, the Assistant Director of the Student Center and Leadership Development who also advises the Greek community, said.

She explained that each chapter is involved in activities on campus to support a specific philanthropy, or charitable institution.

Alpha Chi Omega sponsors its annual “Frisbee Fest,” candlelight vigil, and walk which. This year, they raised over $15,000 for the Greater New Haven Domestic Violence Shelter. The sisters of Phi Sigma Sigma participated in the “Rock-a-thon,” which raised nearly $5,000 for the National Kidney Foundation. Tau Kappa Epsilon held a blood drive in conjunction with CAP and the Alzheimer’s walk up Sleeping Giant, which raised over $4,000 to support the Nancy and Ronald Reagan Alzheimer’s Foundation. Sigma Phi Epsilon held the first annual “Hall Wars” competition where freshman dorms competed allowing the fraternity to raise over $3,000 for the American Cancer Society.

Many members of Greek life stress that companionship is what drives them to participate in their organizations.

“Joining a sorority really made me feel like I was a part of something so amazing,” Thomson said. “I have met a lot more new people due to being a member of Alpha Chi, and have been able to make a difference in something.”

Sievering expressed similar sentiments. “It has given me so much though on how to become a man, and has prepared me for the future while having the best time of my life.”