A place for family, philanthropy and friendship
Members speak on the true nature of Greek life
Central Michigan University is home to 10 social fraternities, 11 social sororities, five academic fraternities and sororities, and three multicultural Greek fraternities and sororities.
These organizations, according to the Fraternity and Sorority Life website, are here to help students challenge themselves academically, enrich their college experience, create strong leadership skills and give back to the local community here in Mount Pleasant.
However, many people are unaware of what Greek life truly means, thanks to some common stereotypes.
Central Michigan Life recently sat down with Lilly Lerner, a freshman studying nursing and a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, and Michael Wood, a freshman studying neuroscience and a member of Alpha Sigma Phi, to discuss what Greek life actually looks like, in light of what movies, T.V. and rumors produce. These interviews have been edited for clarity and style.
[ What does Greek life mean to you? ]
Lerner: Finding my people and a community of uplifting people that want to grow together, make connections, build relationships and raise money for charity. It feels nice to just be a part of something with other people and get to know everyone. I would see it as an outlet to find something to do because there is always something going on, especially because I love to stay busy. It means sisterhood, and overall it means family.
Wood: It’s a sense of community. It’s a bunch of people, at least in my fraternity, that all have similar values, goals and morals that help build each other up. (We’re) like a support system for each other.
[ What activities does your chapter do that you are passionate about? ]
Wood: We do a lot of work with charities. For example, we had our philanthropy week this year (in) which all of the donations that we raised at our fundraiser events went toward “Homes for Ours Troops,” ... an organization that builds veteran homes around the Michigan and the rest of the United States. I am very passionate about the patriotism aspect of (our chapter).
Lerner: I would definitely say our philanthropy is something I am passionate about. (Our philanthropic focus) is breast cancer education and awareness. One in eight women is affected by (breast cancer) so ... raising money to help as much as we can and educating people on it is something that I really enjoy.
In addition to that, I really enjoy getting to know everyone in the chapter. I hold a position called director of membership and enrichment, and (my job) is basically to bring everyone closer together. ... At chapter meetings we do uplifting activities like a smile jar, just to brighten everyone’s week.
[ How does Greek life compare to typical stereotypes from movies, TV, rumors, etc? ]
Lerner: Before I joined a sorority, I haven’t had any family that have. I had some friends (that have joined) but hadn’t really told me much. From movies and TikTok, you see girls screaming and jumping up and down and acting really insane and over the top. With my sorority it really isn’t like that; we’re all a bunch of weirdos that make jokes and are down to Earth. It is a lot more down to Earth (and) I would say a meaningful experience than what it looks like.
Wood: Typically I see the stereotypes that Greek life, at least the fraternity aspect, is full of stuck up dudes with god complexes (and) they think that they’re better than everyone else. After I got involved in Greek life, I realized that ... they are just normal people. There’s nothing that makes them less or more than anyone else.
[ What is your favorite part about your chapter? ]
Wood: My favorite part is my brothers. They’re very similar to me, and we all have very similar interests so it’s easy to talk to them; easy to get along with them and sit down and have fun with them.
Lerner: Honestly, I really like our house. ... Other than that, we really value sisterhoods and make those really fun. It’s just a way for everyone to connect and get to know each other. My family tree is definitely one of my favorite parts as well because they’re my best friends. They’ve done so much for me and I’m so grateful to have them.
[ What would you say to those who are looking to join? ]
Lerner: I would say that you only have one college experience, so definitely look into it and just go for it. It’s an amazing experience, a new opportunity. It’ll give you your family and show you so much about yourself and others that you never would have recognized before. It’s a learning experience and I am so grateful and blessed to have it. Go for it!
Wood: Do it. It can be challenging coming into your first semester to decide whether or not Greek life is for you; I had the same challenge. I ended up (joining) and it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I thought it would pull me away from school but it actually brought me closer to the studying aspect of it. ... Some of my brothers (and I) all do study rooms and have similar classes and help each other study and prepare for exams. It’s definitely not just partying every weekend, it’s a very good tie into the academic part of the school and college.
For more information on CMU’s Greek organizations, check out Engage Central’s listed organizations, visit the Fraternity and Sorority Life website or contact CMU Greek life organizations on social media.