New members of the Greek community will learn more about what it truly means to be Greek with the Greek Emergency Membership (GEM) Academy.
The GEM Academy is a membership development program for new members of the Greek community. The organization was founded this semester and began this month.
“We are kind of a self-governing, self-promoting body that really put this together on our own, by students for students,” said Ann Arbor senior Lindsey Wagner, the vice president of New Member Development for the National Panhellenic Council.
Before the GEM Academy, there was Greek Alpha and Greek 101, two other Greek new member membership programs.
“We found it would be beneficial to combine the ideas and the curriculum and the standards we were trying to meet to combine them to make one bigger program that could better meet the needs of more new members in our Greek community,” Wagner said.
Wagner and five other undergraduate students work on the planning committee for the GEM Academy and help plan sessions for the new members who take part in the program.
“We have a huge passion for this organization and how it’s really positively affected our lives,” Wagner said. “All we want to do is show that light to other people, maybe outside people who don’t really understand Greek letter organizations yet. We want to pass it down to other people so they can get the same experience we’ve had.”
The sessions range around a variety of topics from Greek letter organization mission statements to preventing hazing in the Greek community and improving leadership skills. The different sessions usually have an audience of 20 to 30 new members ran by two to three facilitators.
“I hope to give them a broader perspective of it and realize they didn’t just join their … sorority, they joined a bigger organization,” Romulus sophomore and GEM facilitator Morgan Earby said. “I really like the program. I think that a lot of our participants get a lot out of it.”
Earby said, as a facilitator, she was given a program including information they were going to talk about each session.
“So far, a lot of the kids like it,” Earby said. “They get excited about certain topics that spark interest in them.”
Plymouth sophomore Kerstin Johnson attended the different sessions because it was mandatory for her sorority, Sigma Sigma Sigma.
“I’m happy I did it,” Johnson said. “I met a ton of people here that I didn’t think I would. I would’ve never known them if I didn’t do it.”
Johnson, who recently turned Greek, enjoyed the program because she got to hear about when other fraternities and sororities were founded.
“I never would’ve thought I would’ve gone Greek, but it was the best decision of my life,” Johnson said. “Everyone says that, but no one can understand it unless you’re in it. It’s been an amazing experience, and I’ve only been in it for a few weeks.”
Wagner feels the most rewarding part of working at GEM Academy goes beyond bonding with strangers that can turn into life-long friends, but inspiring people to be leaders and active citizens.
“Working with all these people and being able to help create leaders or inspire leaders because hopefully one day these will be the future presidents of their chapters or the executive boards or their types of professionals in their future lives,” Wagner said. “Hopefully being a part of an organization like this will be something that will make them a better person.”
The GEM academy is part of the NPC and Interfraternity Council and is open to all members. There are 300 members in the program right now from a variety of sororities and fraternities.
“We’re all Greek together, and wearing our letters really makes us a community, and we should all be supportive of each other,” Wagner said.