By Stephanie Doorack ’10
Home to four sororities and two fraternities, one might think William Woods University is a party school, such as portrayed in the movie, “Animal House.” However, while Greek students have fun, they say they definitely have their priorities straight.
“Greek life here at The Woods is not stereotypical,” said Tara Boehl, a senior from Washington, Ill. “We are more like a family, promoting strong values, character and community service.”
Greek students at WWU consistently earn higher grades than independents (non-Greeks) and are actively involved in student organizations, such as Student Alumni Council (SAC) and President’s Twenty, as well as academic honoraries. They also organize and participate in philanthropies to benefit non-profit organizations.
“Greek Life has given me the opportunity to become a leader, not only on this campus but also in the community,” said Clayton Thompson, a senior from Vandalia Mo. “My success in academics has a direct relationship to the amount of support and direction my brothers were able to give me.”
Since 2000, Greek organizations nationwide have worked to create a more wholesome image of fraternities and sororities for students entering college three decades after the release of the “Animal House” movie.
Following a national trend, WWU this year had one of its largest Greek recruitments to date, with nearly 100 women and 30 men joining a sorority or fraternity. Currently, Greeks make up nearly 40 percent of the student population at WWU.
These high numbers are attributed to the size of the incoming class and the positive impact of Greek life at WWU. With hazing and “Animal House” scenarios a thing of the past, Greek chapters at WWU are promoting their core values: scholarship, leadership, service and friendship.
“There are many advantages to a healthy Greek system,” Dr. Jahnae H. Barnett, WWU president, said. “Sororities and fraternities foster committed, supportive students. Sororities and fraternities add structure to the lives of their members and help them to become stronger members of the university community.”
She added, “Statistics indicate that Greeks maintain a stronger bond to their university after graduation and that they are more likely to become involved citizens. The community service and leadership roles that they learn in college stay with them their entire lives, and our communities are better places as a result.”
Sororities were introduced to the WWU campus in 1965 and now consist of Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Phi, Chi Omega and Delta Gamma. Chapters of Phi Gamma Delta and Pi Kappa Alpha fraternities were organized in 2001.
WWU Greek chapters actively work to raise money for charity, supporting both their own philanthropy and the philanthropies of their fellow Greeks. These include the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Jimmy V. Foundation, Women Against Domestic Violence, Alpha Phi Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation and Sight Conservation and Aid to the Blind.
“Philanthropies are definitely a big part of Greek life here at William Woods,” Boehl said. “We all work together for the betterment of our community and to help to make a difference. It’s important to us.”
“Being Greek has definitely changed my life for the better,” said Kathryn Golden, a senior from Crystal Lake, Ill. “It has given me the structure that can sometimes be lacking in a college lifestyle but has also allowed me the freedom to make mistakes and learn from them. Being Greek isn’t about fitting into a mold, it is about being accepted for who you are now and nurtured into the person you can be.”
Due to the importance Greeks place on academics, they have programs to encourage scholastic achievement, such as study buddies, study rooms and grade point average (GPA) requirements.
“Greek life has given me the incentive to strive for a higher academic standard,” said Kendall Carter, a senior from New Florence, Mo. “Being a Greek at The Woods has encouraged me to be involved in the campus and has strengthened my communication skills.”
Boehl said, “Greek life at WWU has allowed me to flourish as a student. I am accountable not only to myself, but my sisterhood as well. By utilizing my chapter’s study hall, tutoring program and grade incentive programs, I’m proud of the student I’ve become.”
The all-Greek GPA is consistently higher than the independent GPA. For the Spring 2008 semester, the all-Greek GPA was 3.12, while the all-independent GPA was 3.00. The all-fraternity GPA was 3.12, while the independent male GPA was 2.89. The all-sorority GPA was 3.13, while the independent female population earned 3.05.
“What better way to jump-start your college career than to join a sorority or fraternity?” said Neil Stanglein, coordinator of Greek life and student involvement. “You have the benefit of a strong academic support system, members who are active in almost all clubs on campus, and access to ongoing philanthropic activities. The Greek community at WWU shall remain an asset to the school, community, and of course, its members, for years to come.”