To the nearly 1,400 men and women who joined the University’s Greek community this past weekend — first and foremost, we’d like to offer you our wholehearted congratulations. The decision to go Greek isn’t an easy one, but we believe it might be the best one you’ll make during your undergraduate years. As Panhel’s vice president of public relations and Interfraternity Council’s vice president of recruitment, we’ve had the most incredible journey in Greek Life and in our individual chapters, and we’re so excited to share that journey with you.

We want to encourage you to really make the most of being Greek. Much of your experience with Greek Life thus far — outside of the recruitment process — has probably been social. It’s certainly one of the most visible elements of Greek Life, with hundreds of tailgaters dancing outside a fraternity on a Football Saturday or thousands of guests “attending” an open party on Facebook. More than likely, you’ve spent the weekend getting to know your new brothers or sisters at social events like these — and that’s definitely not a bad thing. But while fraternities and sororities are social by nature, there’s a lot more to Greek Life than the social scene, and we think those aspects are what make the Greek experience truly excellent.

In the year ahead, you’ll be presented with opportunities to serve your chapter, and we strongly encourage you to take them. Whether it’s something small like attending a seminar, volunteering to help plan an upcoming philanthropy event,or a big commitment like representing your chapter in Junior Panhel or JIFC, giving back to your chapter makes you more invested in its success. Between the two of us, we’ve served fraternity and sorority life in practically every capacity — ranging from holding board positions in our chapters, attending seminars put on by the Office of Greek Life as freshmen to planning them with our councils as seniors. We’ve attended a combined total of 16 leadership conferences, as near as the Michigan League and as far away as Athens, Greece. We’ve even turned our passion for Greek Life into professional opportunities — Sarah will be interning with her sorority this summer, while Rick just got a full-time offer to be a traveling consultant for his fraternity. So are we a little extreme when it comes to Greek leadership? Maybe. But when we joined our chapters three years ago, we were clueless — we were just open to getting involved.

A focus on things like scholarship, athletics and philanthropy can enhance not only your experience in Greek Life, but your growth as a person as well. In addition to all the resources that are already available to you as a student, being Greek gives increased academic support — including access to new networks of study buddies in your class, advice from older brothers and sisters in your major and recognition through scholarship programs. Participation in intramural sports, which has leagues exclusively for fraternities and sororities, will teach you how to work with your brothers and sisters as a team and will be helpful both on and off the playing field. And when Greeks come together to help others, we can accomplish some astounding things — our combined fundraising efforts rival that of any campus service group, and our hands-on work in the community helps our neighbors directly and makes us better men and women.

But while we think it’s important to give back to Greek Life, we also suggest that you take advantage of all its benefits — the most obvious one being brotherhood and sisterhood. In the next few years, you’ll become closer to your pledge class than you could possibly imagine now, and they’ll stay with you for the rest of your life. They’ll be there for you in the good times — like when Rick took a road trip to St. Louis with his brothers — and in the bad times, like when Sarah’s mom was diagnosed with cancer last semester. These bonds are the true benefit of going Greek, and we urge you to develop them in every way possible during your time in college.

With that in mind, we’d like to offer you our congratulations once again and our best wishes for the new member term ahead of you. We sincerely hope that you’ll get as much out of your Greek experiences as we’ve gotten out of ours.

Sarah Smith is an LSA senior. She is the Panhellenic Association’s vice president of public relations. Rick Stepanovic is an LSA senior. He is the Interfraternity Council’s vice president of recruitment.

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