Not just funny-looking letters

Greek letters are found throughout Northern Kentucky University’s campus. However, the letters are much more than symbols from the Greek alphabet; they are symbols of tightly formed communities.

“They bring together people committed together to work toward a common goal and provide a service to mankind,” said Kim Vance, assistant director at the Office of Student Life.

NKU was founded in 1968 and fraternities and sororities quickly followed in 1972. The number of students involved in Greek Life continues to grow as the campus matures.

In 2009, 5 percent of full-time students were a member of a fraternity or sorority. This number is a little below the average nationally for public universities of 8 to 10 percent.

There are three governing bodies presiding over the fraternities and sororities at NKU. The Interfraternal Council (IFC) presides over four fraternity chapters currently on campus — Alpha Tau Omega, Pi Kappa Alpha, Sigma Phi Epsilon and Tau Kappa Epsilon.

The Panhellenic Council (PHC) looks over five sorority chapters — Delta Gamma, Delta Zeta, Kappa Delta, Phi Sigma Sigma and Theta Phi Alpha.

The National Panhellenic Association (NPHC) presides over two fraternities — Alpha Phi Alpha and Kappa Alpha Psi — and three sororities — Alpha Kappa Alpha, Sigma Gamma Rho and Zeta Phi Beta.

“The Greek community at NKU is one of diverse individuals who comprise a variety of talents and life experiences,” said A.J. Miller, president of the IFC.

The cost to be a member varies, depending on the governing body. IFC and PHC organizations can be anywhere from $200 to $400 per semester. The most expensive dues come at the beginning of the year, as much of the money goes to the national chapter. The first expenses in chapters associated with NPHC can be anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000, but the following dues are significantly less than the IFC and PHC.

The money collected by each chapter is used to cover insurance, national chapter dues, local activities, conferences and social activities.

All Greek organizations have a philanthropy focus, which means they have a charitable organization that is connected to their chapter, either locally of nationally. Members are expected to raise money for their foundation.

Those involved in fraternities and sororities are also expected to serve the university and engage in leadership positions inside and outside of their chapters.

There is also a social side of Greek Life. The chapters host formals, mixers and other events designed to bring members closer together.

Students get involved with Greek Life for a variety of reasons. Some find it a way to get involved in the community, as is the case with Audrey Kinney, president of the PHC.

“Joining a sorority allowed me to really get involved in the community and form a network of people that I will have throughout life,” Kinney said.

Others do not feel the cost of being involved in Greek Life is worth the high fees and feel that it is not necessary to be involved in Greek Life to be involved in the community.

“The cost outweighs the benefits,” said Tyler Conley, R.A. at Kentucky Hall. “You shouldn’t pay to be in an organization in order to volunteer; you should take the initiative on your own.”

Story by John Minor