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Non-traditional Greek life update

Greek Life at CU denver is just around the corner

Greek Life on campus has had a small presence at Metro State, but soon it’ll be at CU Denver as well. Some students may still be apprehensive about Greek life, but Amanda French, the graduate assistant for non-traditional Greek life, thinks that students at CU Denver will be surprised and will hopefully see how beneficial the organizations can be.

Photo: Olivia Couch •The Sentry

“CU Denver Greek life is heavily focused on what is not working in Greek life across the country; how do we shape, adjust, and revise to make it something that’s relevant, modern, and innovative?” French said. French says that the purpose for Greek life coming to campus is to help serve underrepresented groups  and give them a voice, while also simply giving other students an opportunity to find community and home within the CU Denver campus.

“CU Denver has a gap on campus and we have a lot of opportunities to get involved, but if we can provide something that also gives a social aspect, something that makes students feel like they have people who truly care about them, then this program will fill that gap,” French said. While this goal may seem ambitious to others, CU Denver is closer than ever to having Greek life that looks a lot like what French is aiming to provide.

Over the past seven months, CU Denver’s Greek Life has been in a development process, one that includes the development of a 20-page manual that has all the processes, guidelines, and requirements that Greek life will follow on our campus. “It’s very focused on multicultural competency, inclusivity, uplifting diverse student population, and really creating a space for them to feel empowered,” French said.

Students like Adnan Syed, biology major, are hopeful for this opportunity. “I think it would be a great opportunity to foster more community on the campus if it’s done right,” Syed said, “If students have a form of living in a learning community like with Greek life, it could facilitate forming more meaningful connections with individuals.” He’s not the only student that’s excited to see what this program will have to offer.

Adrian Toca, a CU Denver psychology major, gave his two cents when he said, “Bringing Greek Life to campus has the potential to bring more diversity to campus and provide the means for different groups to connect. It could also boost CU Denver’s presence at a collegiate level.”

But, some people are on the fence about Greek life at CU Denver. Lam Huynh,  who’s a chemistry major and member of the Vietnamese Student Association (VSA) and the Asian Student Association (ASA), said, “If Greek Life on this campus is going to focus on volunteering and raising money and people reserving rooms to hang out as sororities and fraternities, then I would say that sounds like a club, not really a Greek chapter.”

Allison Borgonah, an undeclared major, said, “Maybe it’s just the labels of Greek chapters that will draw people. But it’s hard to have Greek life because we are a commuter campus. It might draw more people because we’ll offer that label now but it also could drive people away who came here because there was no Greek life to begin with.”

CU Denver’s student body includes a wide variety of diversity: 6 percent are international students, 20.6 percent Hispanic/Latino, 8.8 percent Asian, 4.9 percent African-American, and a handful of others, according to College Factual’s website. Because of this spread of diversity, it’s important to give students opportunities that they are interested in and will participate in, no matter what their background. This isn’t a program that will be like those depicted in Hollywood Greek life.

“Our students won’t be focused on partying, substance abuse, or sexual assault,” French said, “That’s not what our program is about. It’s going to be embedded in educating students in how do you prevent those types of behaviors. We have a leadership curriculum that is required of every student that participates in Greek life. It’s also important to note that this program has the chance to heal and transform Greek Life across the country. I think once we see this model move forward, see students respond to it, and decide how they’re going to shape their chapters, there’s going to be something special here.”

According to Appalachian State University’s website, Greek life was originally meant for white men to come together to focus on literary debate and elections; a place in academic institutions for male students to come together in order to talk about academia. It was elite, but eventually developed into other groups specifically for African-Americans, followed by Latinx. Over the years, more Greek organizations have formed for other groups of ethnicities and people to come together for the same original purposes that the first fraternities were formed for.

French wants to continue to break down the barriers that prevent certain groups from “rushing” Greek. The non-traditional Greek life that French is implementing will have little to no financial aspects that most Greek fraternities and sororities require.

“For our younger students surveyed, we got a lot of positive feedback if the program and the model looked like this,” French said. But French knows that some people aren’t fond of the idea. “There are those that are definitely going to be unsupportive of this, and that’s perfectly fine. Their opinions are a great way to learn how our program can change and adjust. You don’t have to be for it, you don’t have to join it, and that’s okay! My hope is that when students see this they say, ‘That looks pretty great, those students look like they’re really benefiting from it, and why do I need to be against it?’”

The program was presented to CU Denver higher administration and was approved on March 2, 2018. The Greek life program went live on all social media on March 13.

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