To the Bloomington Community,
It's us, IU’s fraternities and sororities, and we’ve been meaning to talk. It is almost that time of year again where students from all over the United States descend on Bloomington.
Let us say in advance, we’re sorry about the inevitable annual chaos. We look forward to watching trailers and U-Hauls try to fit under the all-too-low bridges right alongside you. On a more serious note, the fraternity and sorority community is incredibly excited to start what we hope will be our first “normal” school year in quite some time.
We, Ethan Golde, president of the Interfraternity Council (IFC), and Caitlyn Myers, president of the Panhellenic Association (PHA), wanted to reach out to the local community to express our excitement to start all these events hand in hand with the Bloomington community. You’re probably familiar with our members as you may have seen them lining up outside of Kilroy's on a Friday night or proudly repping their Greek letters on every article of clothing during Little 500 week. What you may not be familiar with is everything else our members are doing.
IU fraternities and sororities have prioritized community involvement, an engaging college experience, and positive mental health. In addition, all our work is supported by 10 to 15 full-time IU professionals in the Division of Student Affairs. When it comes to grades, Indiana University’s own data show the average GPA of fraternity men exceeds or meets the average GPA of all male undergrads at IU almost every single semester measured. The average GPA of sorority women does the same, often beating the female-wide GPA by an entire half a percentage point.
It is clear that living, studying, and socializing with peers who also value academics is pushing us all to achieve higher grades and the results speak for themselves. Membership in a Greek-lettered organization also can be a direct pipeline to leadership in other campus clubs, for example nearly half of fraternity members serve in other campus leadership roles. This is hardly surprising given almost one in four IU students belongs to a fraternity or sorority.
Our members are not just participating in other campus clubs but are leading our campus community towards positive change. Another core value of our organizations is community service and philanthropy. The data also indicate our emphasis on the concept is moving the needle. Greek students have shown interest and support of the local community at very high levels. Twenty-four percent of Greek students vs. 8% of non-Greeks state they were “extremely active” in extracurricular activities and organizations. In addition, these incredibly involved fraternity and sorority members scored statistically higher when asked if they “often spend time volunteering, mentoring, or doing other types of service work.”
We are not trying to portray our community as perfect or error free. We know that in some cases, the institutions of Greek life have perpetuated racism, homophobia, and misogyny. We also know that we’re not always the easiest neighbors to have in Bloomington. Despite all the changes we have made and will continue to make, we have a long way to go. But we promise that one day, we will get there.
What we are asking is that you, as our fellow members of the IU and Bloomington community, be a part of the positive change. This year each fraternity and sorority will be selecting a local organization to support through fundraising and volunteering. We’re serious about putting our money and actions where our mouth is and all we ask is that you join us either in spirit or in action. Join us in conversations, at events, and as partners walking towards change. Most importantly, hold us accountable. Call us out when we slip up, remind us to do better, but never forget that each one of us is just a student trying to do their best every single day.
We make up about a quarter of the university and want to continue improving and celebrating this special place we all call home. We want to do all of this as your neighbors, your partners, and of course your friends. And yes, we’ll turn the music down a little too.
Ethan Golde is president of the Interfraternity Council and Caitlyn Myers is president of the Panhellenic Association at Indiana University.
This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: IU Greek life leaders hope for positive relations with community