September 14, 2012 by Stephen Bennett
As the craziness of fraternity and sorority rush continues, many of our fellow Tribe members are unsure about Greek life, and what is so great about it. Well, what are the benefits of Greek life? Some people think Greek life is only a group wanting a “To-ga! To-ga! To-ga!” party, as Mr. John Belushi so eloquently stated in Animal House, but in reality Greek life offers a great opportunity to push oneself to articulate his or her values and work together with others while living together. I started noticing these benefits at the College, but it truly became apparent during my summer internship.
This summer I interned with a nonprofit in Ecuador with students from all over the country working on market-based development. We lived and worked together for two months. It was a wonderful experience, but we did have our fair share of issues and disagreements between us. We would discuss, argue, and become stressed while we worked on campaigns, community consulting, and other projects. My Greek experience was evident during those dialogues and prepared me for this type of close quarters and personal work with others, especially those with strong personalities and perspectives. I had the experience of arguing, discussing, and debating my views, values, and opinions and knew that I could do this with my fellow interns without hindering my relationship with any of them.
Yes, William and Mary has enhanced my capacity to articulate myself to others and has expanded my thought process; however, the unique experience that Greek life offers of living with others while being accountable to both a larger organization and to my brothers challenges me and any fraternity man to express his values to his brothers (in my case 70 brothers) and debate those values, but still being able to walk away afterward knowing that his brother is still his brother. Together my brothers and I continue to strengthen my fraternity and strive for personal development and chapter improvement, even though we occasionally disagree. This is essential to understand as someone progresses through college and prepares for entering the scary world after graduation. Each person needs to know his or her values and how to express those to others in a powerful and substantive way without damaging personal relationships. Greek life allows each brother or sister the opportunity to be a part of a larger entity and improve that entity together while incorporating the chaos of classes, extracurriculars, and just living daily life together.
However, in the unique internship environment there is a different kind of chaos while working. The other interns were great and many have become good friends, but during the challenges and stressed-filled moments I appreciated and understood the value of my Greek experience that made me the person I am today. It has made me look beyond myself and realize how to have great relationships with others while working together towards a mutual goal. Greek life proves that someone can work hard, play hard, and improve oneself while being a part of a brotherhood or sisterhood.
Yes, Greek life has some great social aspects that many members enjoy from formals, late night hangouts, and more. But the skills, experience, and growth that I have acquired from my fraternity and I am sure that others have received from their brotherhood or sisterhood is sometimes unrealized until stepping back and noticing the profound change that William and Mary begins and Greek life strengthens over four years. This is just one way Greek life is great at William and Mary to demonstrate that togas are more than just fun.
Go Greek (more than To-ga!),