Information for Families
Dear Mothers, Fathers, Step-parents, older siblings, mature cousins, aunts, uncles, role models, teachers, and other adults involved in the life of a Whitman College student pursuing fraternity or sorority membership-
You believe in your student. We do too. Fraternal organizations are exponentially more than the average campus club. Belonging fuels the fire for life’s zest and can make us better versions of ourselves, and thus, better human beings. As a member, your student can gain skills and experience to be a world-changing leader, not only in the future, but now as well. Sororities and fraternities educate the heart by developing relationships, impacting the community, and providing the tools to become more holistic individuals, with a stronger sense of purpose and connection. Greek groups are a powerful force for personal excellence and social change.
This preparation, meaning-making, and empowerment are potent. Sororities and fraternities are some of the most well-educated, well-funded, and well-organized groups in the world. Considering our fraternal virtues, membership entwines with leading a life of honor; a journey taken with forever-friends at our sides. Some of life’s most worthwhile moments might come late at night, philosophically debating how principles in the ritual apply to daily modern life. The sorority/fraternity experience is more important today than it ever has been.
We all want to matter. Greek Life provides the chance to matter in ways that no other experience can compete with. If your student is a leader, creator, artist, thinker, maker, or doer, I sincerely hope he/she finds a home with one of Whitman College’s Greek-lettered organizations. When facing stress or life’s difficulties, time and again, sorority members rely on the ears and the shoulders of their sisters; fraternity members find motivation in the tight bonds of brotherhood; alumni and advisors role model wisdom and strength.
The Sorority & Fraternity Life Office provides training for personal development and leadership resources. I meet regularly with the student leaders of each fraternal chapter, each governing umbrella organization, and all project committees, both challenging and supporting them, as they strive to both continually improve and always do the right thing. This is especially important in light of the dragons (alcohol, drugs, hazing, sexual misconduct, mental health, death) that have faced not only sorority/fraternity members, but college students across the country. Whitman’s student-driven initiatives and organizational prevention/education programs collaborate to champion the purity of our fraternal purposes. Greek Whitties are making our world better every single day. Service opportunities abound in our sphere, and we have a leadership opportunity available for literally every student who wants one.
The social sororities and fraternities on our campus have rich histories and chapters all across the country, which means that our affiliated students are siblings with people of every generation from all across the country. Right now, a new generation of members are taking action, so wherever Greek Whitties go in the future, they will be met with the opportunity to tap the deep roots of their brotherhood or sisterhood, connecting to a network already helping them flourish, whatever their endeavor. Membership lasts a lifetime; it stretches far beyond the physical grounds of the Whitman campus and the years of the collegiate experience. Our history is long. Our future is longer.
As is to be expected, these innumerable perks come with some responsibilities including attendance at weekly meetings and periodic mandatory events. Two to five hours per week is average, not including elective activities like holding an office, attending social events, or helping out with projects. Hello, time management skills. Many sorority/fraternity members have (one or more!) jobs. As with many things in life, the more one puts into Greek life, the more they get out of it. Financial obligations vary widely by chapter, but most required dues are at least a couple hundred dollars per semester, which include things like leadership and educational programming, cost of community service, some social events, insurance coverage for the organization, and council dues, for example. First semester fees or initiation fees can also include the badge or pin, which is a symbolic and commemorative piece of jewelry. Additional optional expenses could include gifts, paraphernalia, t-shirts, bags, stickers, etc. After graduation, paying alumni (or “alumnae” for women) chapter dues, making contributions to charitable foundations, and donating back to the College will be encouraged.
As members of prominent Greek-lettered organizations, we hold ourselves to higher standards. Sorority and fraternity members’ GPAs are consistently at or above the all-men’s and all-women’s GPA averages. Older members of the group mentor younger members maybe with the same major and can offer suggestions for a class they may have taken before. Usually, each individual chapter has an elected official who is responsible for keeping track of members and their academic performance. The groups positively incentivize academic success, campus involvement, charitable contributions of time volunteering in the community, and coordination of philanthropic efforts raising money for deserving causes. Our groups’ footprints are positively felt both in Walla Walla and nationwide.
For me, as an only child, the idea of finally having sisters was a huge draw when I made the decision to pursue sorority membership as an undergraduate. It was the best decision I ever made. If you are not a member yourself, you don’t know what secret core principles the Greek letters on our t-shirts stand for, but please know this: they have the profound potential to be a bulwark of stability and guidance for appropriate conduct, sweetened with tradition, support, friendships, fun, and life-enhancing opportunities.
If you’re still thinking “this is all Greek to me,” or if for any reason your affiliated student’s experience is not like what’s described above, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly. I’m happy to respond to your questions, comments, thoughts or observations.
Associate Director of Student Activities: Sorority & Fraternity Life and Student Leadership