As you walk through campus, look around: Greek letters are everywhere. Glued onto wooden signs, arching across the backs of t-shirts and short-shorts, or perched atop houses on Russell Boulevard. You might be able to decode a few of the letters, but you might still wonder, “What do they really mean?”
At UC Davis, “Greek Life“ doesn‘t always equate to Animal House style parties, or bikini clad car washes. With dozens of social, professional and ethnic-based sororities and fraternities on campus to choose from, there‘s an organization for nearly every interest and ambition. Whether or not you choose to “Go Greek,“ knowing your options is a great way to start networking and finding your way around campus.
Panhellenic and InterFraternity Council
If you are looking for the most “traditional“ Greek experience, joining a social sorority or fraternity is the way to go. With large houses (note: “house“ can mean number of members – not just that place with the huge backyard) and an extensive number of affiliated chapters across the U.S., there are 10 panhellenic sororities and 19 IFC fraternities currently recognized at UC Davis.
The process of applying to become part of one of these organizations is known as “rush:“ a standardized one-week period each year or quarter, depending on the organization, where potential new members become familiar with one or multiple houses to determine their best fit.
Hayley Sueoka, current panhellenic president, said the Davis Collegiate Panhellenic Association offers a fall formal recruitment process for women interested in becoming part of a panhellenic sorority.
Formal recruitment is held during orientation week with eight of the panhellenic sororities, and some houses also offer informal recruitment in spring, when women can choose to rush a single house instead of all of them. The recruitment process is four days long, and introduces potential members to each house‘s specific values, activities, and philanthropic associations.
“Participating in sorority recruitment was one of the best decisions I made in college,“ Sueoka said. “No matter what sorority you join, or even if you end up not joining one, you will meet new people, make great life-long friends and discover many opportunities to get involved on campus and within the Davis community.“
For men interested in joining a national fraternity, IFC offers rush during the first full week of school, during which time houses will host formal and informal recruitment events advertised on Facebook groups, chalkboards and flyers posted throughout campus.
“Recruitment week is an opportunity for students to learn more about different greek organizations. During recruitment periods, fraternities will have events at their house or other venues, which allow an opportunity for students to meet the brothers, learn about the particular organization and figure out which organization is right for them,“ reads their website.
To become part of IFC recruitment process, interested individuals need to inquire directly to the house of their choice for rush details.
Professional and Interest-Based
Professional and interest-based fraternities and sororities offer a more customized Greek experience, with typically smaller organizations and specific goals.
Although each individual organization varies greatly in size and structure, a common thread between all professional organizations is an emphasis on networking and attracting likeminded individuals dedicated to a specific interest. For career-minded individuals, joining a pre-business, law, or medical fraternity or sorority is an excellent way to find support and resources that could give an extra edge to a medical, law or graduate school application.
Sigmu Mu Delta, an all-male pre-medical fraternity on campus, is one of several pre-medical organizations that offer the opportunity for members to network with current professionals in their field, as well as prepare themselves for MCATS, medical school and the road ahead.
“Through its extensive network of alumni, Sigma Mu Delta provides its new members with opportunities to shadow doctors, obtain letters of recommendation, gain leadership experience, volunteering and research opportunities, discounted Kaplan Test Prep courses … items essential for a competitive medical school applicant“ said Juan Barboza, president of Sigma Mu Delta.
In addition to career-focused organizations, UC Davis offers several professional sororities and fraternities that unite members under a single goal: to better the world through community service. Although most Greek organizations have a philanthropic component to their membership, organizations such as Lambda Omicron Xi focus solely on bringing members together to engage in networking through community service.
“LOXi is a community service sorority, so the main goal is to connect the sisters with volunteer opportunities in the community“ said Hayley Baker, president of Lambda Omicron Xi. “However, we are still a sorority, so we hold events and do activities to build sisterhood among all of the girls.“
For more information about LOxi, go to davisloxi.com.
Ethnic and Cultural Connection
Like other Greek organizations, ethnic-based fraternities and sororities offer extensive alumni networks and valuable professional resources to help guide students both in college, and after graduation. Many organizations have a strong history in promoting minority education, and most have ties to both national and international philanthropic organizations.
In addition to multi-cultural Greek organizations, there are numerous Latino/a, Asian, and African American interest fraternities and sororities that offer specific networking opportunities to develop friendships and foster cultural ties with individuals of similar ethnic background on the UC Davis campus.
For more information about rushing and Greek organizations, go to Student Programs and Activities Center Greek page at spac.ucdavis.edu/programs/greek or daviswiki.org to search for individual websites and information about upcoming rush events. Also look for members tabling at the quad or the MU with rush information during the first couple weeks of school.
MICHELLE IMMEL can be reached at email@example.com.