“Meet the Greeks” Raises Larger Question

By Gabrela C. Harewood

On March 12, the Greek Life Club hosted “Meet the Greeks,” a showcase and information session about Greek-lettered organizations (GLO’s) on campus. Flyers for the event listed a 6pm start time, but at 6:10pm GLO members were still filing into the Faculty Dining Room, greeting each other and setting up their information tables. About 10 people came to the event at the time it was scheduled to start. “Are these Greeks meeting each other?” freshman Arnisha Coleman joked. “Where is everybody?”

By 7:30pm, the dining room was more than half-full with students who either wanted to represent their GLO or inquire about joining one. Attendees visited tables decked out in vibrantly colored regalia from the nine sororities and fraternities that operate under the Greek Life Club’s umbrella. Each organization gave a short presentation about its values, purpose, and community involvement.

Though the ballroom was full of both energy and attendees by the time the event was over, this wouldn’t be the first time that a campus information session was almost poorly attended.

At 6:05pm, students milled past the Music Building, making their way to class or enjoying the beautiful weather. Either way, most were totally oblivious to the fact that “Meet the Greeks” was starting just steps away—with free food, to boot. Jovan Bramble, a senior human resources major, gave us his reason for not attending. “People think upperclassmen don’t care to get involved on campus. They think that we don’t care about events and organizations and that isn’t true,” he revealed. “Most of us have jobs. When you work, it’s hard to be a part of the campus community. I work full time and I go to school full time. I’m actually on my way to class now.”

This explanation is one that we’ve heard before. Lehman offers a plethora of clubs, activities, and organizations geared to students’ professional, academic, social and recreational interests, but lots of students are either ignorant or not taking advantage of this fact. Because Lehman is a commuter school, the majority of students often fall into the trap of only paying attention to academics; their priorities lie off campus, and they have neither the time nor energy to pursue on-campus activities. “I looked into frats on campus a little while ago, but I didn’t see the one that I’m interested in,” Bramble said. “Now, I’m focusing on graduation.”

“I was on the women’s tennis team for years,” said a senior who wished to remain unidentified. “I grew up with the sport, so I joined when I was a freshman. It started to get in the way of school though; I started missing class to attend practice and matches. My mom told me ‘you’re not majoring in tennis, you know!’ So I quit. I haven’t joined anything since.” Like Bramble, she is also putting her focus on graduation.

Because the majority of students don’t show interest in campus activities, organizations aren’t as likely to promote their events, making it even harder for interested parties to gather information.

Justin Manning, faculty advisor of the Greek Life Club, gave his opinion on the matter. “Because CUNY Lehman College has their policy on what Greeks are and what we cannot do, it stifles activity.” According to Manning, the “policy” states that GLO’s aren’t recognized on campus.

In line with the policy on GLO’s, Tyisha “Cherish” Brakeford, a Lehman College alumna and member of Delta Sigma Chi Sorority Inc., went out of her way to find campus organizations that matched her interests. Brakeford, a transfer student from Westchester Community College, attended Lehman for two years, and was an active member of an average of five clubs a year. “If you don’t network properly, you’re only going to the job you’re going to until you get fired,” she says. Brakeford held a part-time job during her Lehman career. “Delta Sigma Chi was founded on the basis that students shouldn’t just go to school and go home, but should be active members of the campus community,” she said. “We all pay an activity fee, and so many people don’t take advantage of that.”

Greek- lettered organizations aren’t for everyone, but all students ought to take advantage of the student activity fee—a steep $280 a year for full-time undergrads.

Unsure of how to make the most of campus activities? Visit the information desk in the Student Life Building—located at the south end of campus—and keep an eye out for a list of tips in the May issue.