Baruch fraternities and sororities make due at a commuter school
By: Alexandra Torres
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Not all college sororities and fraternities operate like the ones portrayed in the movies: big house, communal living and lots of socializing and partying.
Large commuter schools such as Baruch College in Manhattan also offer students a type of Greek experience but it is adapted to the circumstances of limited space and the busy off-campus schedules of the students involved.
Colleges with larger campuses and dorms usually have Greek Rows or Greek houses for their Greek-lettered organizations. In these houses is where the active members of the GLOs hang out, study, relax, sleep and socialize. At Baruch, however, Greeks enjoy the camaraderie of sisterhood and brotherhood in a third-floor club room inside a designated area for the school’s undergraduate clubs and organizations.
“There’s limited amount of space so that makes it harder to do certain things,” said Senior Ken Ye, of Lambda Pi Epsilon, which shares their narrow 3-232 club room with two other Greek organizations. In there you’ll find some chairs around one table where they eat, two computers and, to add pizazz to their home away from home, three large crests of their respective GLOs painted on the wall.
Each club room is shared with as many as three or four other clubs or organizations, which results in less privacy. However, some members believe this has promoted Greek unity among GLOs whereas in other schools it is more likely for them to be divided due to the separated living situation. “Just the fact that there’s limited space, brings us closer together,” said junior Samantha Wong, of Kappa Phi Lambda.
“Being the fact that you’re in the city, you can do a lot more because there are a lot of places nearby to hang out at,” said Ye explaining that it makes up for the confined space.
Other GLO’s that reported having club rooms in the club area, or elsewhere on campus, are: Kappa Phi Alpha, La Unidad Latina; Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity, Alpha Epsilon Pi, Beta Phi Sigma, Alpha Phi Delta, Lambda Pi Epsilon, and Kappa Phi Lambda, Lambda Pi Epsilon, and Theta Phi Gamma.
Not all GLOS are fortunate enough to have a room or locker. Sigma Sigma Ro, Pi Delta Psi, Senoritas Latinas Unidad; Sigma Lambda Upsilon Sorority Inc. are some of those that lack both those resources.
Members of SLU lamented about the added difficulty this brings to event hosting. “When we have events, we have to bring things back and from our house to the event,” senior Bianca Escalera, treasurer of SLU.
With a small membership and lacking a room, Escalera said that she and other members usually hang out in LUL’s club room as it helps them feel a sense of belonging.
Although these club rooms have provided a place for Greeks to study, hang out, eat, plan events and, for Alpha Phi Delta, a place to play video games in between classes, Greeks acknowledge the difficulty in other social aspects of Greek life.
“Its harder to […] enjoy the more social aspects of fraternities such as parties and mixers,” said sophomore Juan Mendez, community service vice president of La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon lambda Fraternity Inc., which has over 75 prominent undergraduate institutions and 14 alumni/graduate entities in most major American cities, according to its website.
Mixers, events in which members of different GLOs get together to mingle and network, promote the social aspect of Greek life as much as parties. When it comes to hosting parties, GLOs, and all 117 Baruch organizations and clubs for that matter, have to plan months in advance to have large rooms reserved for that particular day.
Another common Greek life practice which has suffered due to Baruch’s commuter college quality is rushing. Rushing is simply the formal recruitment of potential active members, which GLOs do through hosting a week of events open to all who are interested in learning more and joining.
At Baruch, this is a time where Greeks can be seen in large numbers around campus proudly wearing their letters emblazoned on shirts and hoodies as they hand out fliers.
Despite the effort made, Greeks acknowledge that it has been harder to recruit potential active members due to the fact that most Baruch students go to school just for classes and than go either straight home or to work. As a result active membership has remained relatively stagnate, with numbers decreasing in some cases or increasing just slightly.
La Unidad Latina; Lambda Upsilon Lambda fraternity has the smallest number of active members at four members. There were seven but since than some of them have graduated.
LUL is right behind Senoritas Latinas Unidas; Sigma Lambda Upsilon Sorority Inc. at five members and Sigma Sigma Ro at ten members. The rest of the GLOs active membership ranges from 12 to 35.
While their GLO has seen a decrease others have seen a slight increase. This is the case with Alpha Kappa Delta Phi, which was founded in 1990 and just introduced its Baruch chapter in the fall 2009 semester. “We have experienced a good turnout for this semester’s rush and the previous one as well,” said junior Victoria Lee, president of the organization. “Our charter class crossed with 14 sisters, including myself but since then, we have crossed our Alpha class with 12 sisters in Fall 2010. We currently have 22 actives.”
Theta Phi Gamma sorority has also seen an increase according to their president Angela Torres. In the 2009-2010 school year there were eight active members, whereas this school year there are 17 active members, according to Torres.
What Greek life lacks in numbers, they make up with the will to make things happen despite the limited resources and several GLOs have increased the amount of events they host and co-host.
In the past school year, LUL has had an event on hate crimes, White Chocolate: an event on interracial relationships and an event on the effect of immigration on the U.S. economy.
Kappa Delta Phi Sorority, Inc has also seen an increase in events, although Lee acknowledge that it was slight. These events include two workshops targeted towards women in Baruch. They were Kunoichi- Self Defense for Women and a workshop on how to prevent sexual Harassment in the work place. Winter Essentials and Room to Read were events they co-hosted along with Golden Key.
All proceeds from guests went to victims of the tsunami in Japan. It is a example of the “do more with less” take on things.
Due to the fact that fraternities and sororities are negatively associated with bad behavior and hazing, a ritual college students interested in joining fraternities or sororities undergo to prove themselves worthy. They endure violent and embarrassing treatment.
This has effected what is supposed to be the authoritative and governing body of all Greek organizations on campus. That body is the InterGreek council, which exists at most schools with Greek organizations. Baruch College also has an IGC. According to Angela Torres, the president of the IGC and student, it should their responsibility to decide what Greek organizations start Baruch chapters on campus.
Helping to make these events and ideas come into fruition, is Baruch’s Inter-Greek Council, of which only 17 GLOs are members of. They meet ever on a monthly basis to discuss upcoming events and other issues concerning Greek Life.
“The Baruch Inter-Greek Council promotes unity amongst all Greeks on campus. It is the link between GLO’s and allows for open communications amongst organizations,” according to their Facebook page. “The IGC represents Baruch Greek Life, and strives to bring awareness to the Baruch college campus that its Greeks are successful, productive people, who work to make their campus a better place.”
Especially since Baruch is an urban school, being a part of a sisterhood or brotherhood definitely adds to the college experience and despite the obstavles, they would not trade in the experince for anything in the world.
“We take young men and build them up. We’re just like family,” said junior Anthony Rodick, president of Alpha Phi Delta explaining that APD has given him a place where he can get togther with other brothers that he rely on.
“I think it betters your life and experience in college,” said Ye. “I’ve traveled across the nation meeting tons of people, taking part in completely new and fun experiences.”
Wong shared similar sentiments. “Since Baruch is a commuter college, being in a sorority makes it feel that you really went away for school. The relationships you gain are life-long, you get a sense of belonging, and you have things to do.”