It’s hard to go 10 minutes walking around Gannon University’s campus without seeing a sorority sister or fraternity brother sporting their letters.
By now, it’s likely that most students have all of the groups memorized by seeing the letters on a regular basis. With such pride held by Greeks for their letters, it’s not common to hear about someone dropping theirs. But it does happen – the question is why?
Monica Scarsella, a senior pre med/biology major, became a member of Sigma Sigma Sigma during the fall of her sophomore year and then dropped her letters in the spring of her junior year. She said she initially wanted to get involved with a sorority because her roommates were involved and they really loved it.
However, the amount of time commitments proved to be too much for Scarsella. She said she didn’t take into account how much really goes into being a sister. There are fundraisers, meetings and social events that each sorority partakes in.
“I believe that anything you are a part of, what you put into it is what you get out of it,” Scarsella said. “Since I didn’t have the time to commit fully, I felt they deserved to have someone fully involved.”
Since Scarsella was already taking a full academic course load and head of a few groups herself, she decided something had to give.
“There was an interview process, and I had multiple meetings in front of the honors council for them to better understand why I was leaving,” Scarsella said.
Overall, she said her experience was a positive one. She is now considered an inactive member, which gives her the right to still wear her letters but she is unable to participate in any of the sorority’s activities.
Senior James Hormanski’s experience, though, was less than positive.
Initially, Hormanski said he was drawn to Pi Kappa Alpha due to the brothers’ emphasis on sports. He said he began to play flag football as a freshman with the brothers and started to hang out at the house. Eventually he got a bid and started to participate in the activities of PKA.
After a few months, he said he began to realize that the fraternity wasn’t a good fit for him. Each fraternity has a set of library hours that each member has to complete. Since he is an engineering major, most of the resources Hormanski needed to study were in Zurn Science Center. With the little time he had between working three jobs, he said studying in the library wasn’t productive for him.
He also said that the amount of dues he had began to take a toll on him as there wasn’t a payment plan to accommodate his financial needs. Sororities all require close to the same amount of dues, $200 per semester, but Pike is the most expensive Greek organization on campus at $800 per year.
After he left the fraternity, Hormanski said the other brothers eventually stopped saying hi to him when they would see him and the friendships he did have in that group soon dissolved. Hormanski was not the only one to not fulfill his membership there.
“Out of the 13 in our pledge class, four or five dropped out,” Horomanski said. “I’m still happy with my decision to leave.”
Dropped letters are not very common – Jason Frampton, associate director of Student Organizations and Leadership Development, said he estimates that only 10-15 members will drop their letters in a given academic year. In fact, numbers for both the girls and guys are up from last spring’s recruitment. There is a 25 percent increase for the fraternities and 45 percent increase for the sororities, with 77 women participating and 61 of them being placed. There are currently 425 Greek students total at Gannon.
“Out of the 16 [women] that didn’t join, one didn’t get placed and the rest withdrew due to other financial obligations and no membership commitments they wanted,” Frampton said.
Frampton added that the SOLD office does make an effort to see why some students decide Greek life is not for them.
“We survey the people that didn’t get involved to find out why,” he said. “I have meetings with some to find out how we can improve.”
There are five sororities and six fraternities on campus. Students must be at least in their second semester of freshman year to start the new membership process and there is a GPA requirement – a minimum of 2.4 for the men and 2.5 for the women.
With such an increase in numbers, it’s no surprise that those who stay involved enjoy it and get a lot out of being involved.
Cristianne Johnson, a junior journalism communications major, said that being a sister of Alpha Gamma Delta has opened a lot of doors for her.
“I love it a lot,” Johnson said. “I have gotten to do things around campus that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”
Keefer Kopco, a junior theater communications major, said he joined Delta Sigma Phi for similar reasons.
“I appreciated what DSP did on campus,” Kopco said. “And I thought there would be good leadership opportunities in it.”
With most opportunities, not everyone is going to have the same experience. Greek life is a major part of most campuses and for good reasons. Through it, friendships are built, experiences are had and opportunities are made that otherwise might not have come about.
But for some, the time commitment and financial obligation are too much to ignore.