The Greek Dilemma

Luke Chandler

There are currently over 9 million active and inactive members of Greek life organizations in the US, according to recent statistics. With this number at a historic high and currently rising, some former fraternity and sorority members are reflecting on their experiences in college.

Duane Sprull, an Alpha Phi Alpha brother and DHS Administrator, found a fraternity that shared similar values to his own. APA was the first African American fraternity, founded in 1906. One of their core beliefs is that academics are essential in their quest to become better men. Sprull shared this belief.

“I felt like it was the fraternity that shared the same vision as I did in relation to service to the community and brotherhood while still being academically focused,” he said.

Despite many cinematic depictions, fraternities are about more than just parties and many focus on both academics and community service. According to Sprull, a key facet of the Greek life is philanthropy. Sprull recalls several service projects, such as tutoring at a local elementary school and campus cleanup activities.

While Sprull acknowledges that hazing took place in minor forms, he also said a recent change to the structure of the fraternity intends to prevent hazing and bullying in all forms. He does not believe it affected him or any of his brothers negatively. He cited his relationships as the biggest benefit of pledging to a fraternity.

“It has been extremely rewarding for me to participate in Alpha Phi Alpha,” he said. “The relationships that I developed have grown since the spring of 1995, when I became a member.”

To this day, Sprull is still friends with some of his “brothers” and still keeps in touch with most of them.

About 10 years later, Jessica Mayer, a DHS teacher, decided to pledge to Alpha Chi Omega at Georgia Tech for similar reasons.

Mayer enjoys how close many of her sorrority sisters and her were and currently still are in some cases. “I keep up with a solid few friends,” Mayer said “but just like any other friends, we aren’t all at the same place in our lives anymore and have less in common.” During her time in AXO, Mayer met lifelong friends that currently live in places such as Chicago, Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.

“The girls in my sorority were driven to succeed at Georgia Tech and be leaders on campus,” she said. “We were known as the overachievers.”

Mayer doesn’t think that being in a sorority got in the way of her education.

“I’m sure there were times I chose to hang out with my sisters rather than study,” she said. “However, I don’t feel like it negatively overall affected my grade or the quality of education I received. Being young and immature probably affected my grades and education more than just being in a sorority.”

ACO is more than just a sorority, it is also a charitable organization. While Mayer was at Georgia Tech, she helped plan a 5k to raise money for local women’s shelters.

In retrospect, she believes that her college experience would be very different had she not pledged

“I think my friend group would be much smaller,” she said. “I also would not have gotten some of the jobs I had out of college without having my foot in the door of being Greek.”

Ryan Walsh is currently the Vice President of Inter-Fraternity Council at Emory, and is currently a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity. Walsh chose SAE because its members diverse personalities and experiences.

He values the bond between fraternity brothers.

“I have met all my closest friends through my fraternity,” Walsh said. “And I will leave Emory with the best friends I will ever have in my life.”

Similar to Sprull and Mayer, Walsh’s fraternity doesn’t condone hurtful hazing, but rather promotes a tight-knit relationship between members.

“I have neither seen nor experienced any hazing in my fraternity,” he said. “SAE explicitly dissolved the pledging program.”

He feels confident that his experiences in SAE will stay with him forever.

“Joining a fraternity has provided me with friendships and connections that I will undoubtedly cherish for the rest of my life,” Walsh said.

The most recent charitable event Kappa Kappa Gamma participated in was GIRLS Academy where sorority members lead a retreat at an underprivileged middle school in Gwinnett County to teach the female students leadership skills.

Also at Emory, Taylor Randleman, DHS class of 2014, joined the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority as a freshman.

Randleman argues that being in a sorority has been beneficial to her academics.

“[Being in a sorority] even makes school easier in some regards because we get study groups together and there, it allows someone willing to help work through a problem or concept if you don’t understand,” Randleman said. “We will get big study groups together which makes spending hours in the library during finals more bearable.”

Randleman is also the Philanthropy chair for Kappa Kappa Gamma. One of her duties is to organize 4-10 large-scale philanthropy events per semester. She enjoys these service activities, saying that they are one of her favorite parts of being in a sorority. 

She also finds being in Kappa Kappa Gamma to be a rewarding experience.

“I’ve met some of my best friends in college because of Kappa Kappa Gamma,” Randleman said.

According to Sprull, Mayer, Walsh and Randleman, the Greek lifestyle was an overall beneficial experience and is something to consider.