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Today's word on journalism

January 13, 2009


"I get the feeling that the 24-hour news networks are like the bus in the movie 'Speed.' If they stop talking for a second, they think they'll blow up."

--Jon Stewart, The Daily Show, 2008 (Thanks to alert WORDster Ross Martin)

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Why choose to be Greek?

By Caresa Alexander

December 12, 2008 | To some, being part of a fraternity or sorority means having a home away from home. That includes the ups and downs.

Many have an expectation that belonging to a fraternity or sorority will be like National Lampoon's Animal House. That is not entirely true. While having fun, students can find and feel a part of a brotherhood or sisterhood.

Gideon Oakes never thought about becoming a member of a fraternity until his friend invited him. Oakes, an advertising representative for The Utah Statesman, had a stereotypical image of "frat boys" and thought they were "lazy, good-for-nothing drinkers and partyers." But once he became involved he realized it was much more than just parties and felt a connection to everyone. Oakes said belonging to Pi Kappa Alpha has helped him develop leadership skills.

"Fraternities recruit good men and help build strong leaders," said Oakes. The same can be said about women and sororities.

Lindsey Wise of Wyoming also became a Greek. She joined a sorority while at the University of Idaho because she was new to the school and because family members suggested it would "enhance her college experience." During Rush week Wise said it was a lot of fun. Being asked back to a sorority was exciting since some girls were not invited back. There were a lot of parties and activities with the fraternities. Besides the parties, the members also provided service. Wise noted some functions included highway clean up and collecting used eye glasses for people who couldn't afford them.

The organizations at Utah State also provide opportunities to serve the local community. Activities include working with the Women's Center of Logan and CAPSA to raise awareness against domestic violence, sponsoring an annual Halloween Carnival, raising money for Habitat for Humanity and helping with highway cleanup. Oakes said Pi Kappa Alpha raised money for Operation Smile this year. Operation Smile is a worldwide organization that treats children and young adults born with cleft-lips, cleft palates and other facial deformities. The money donated by Pi Kappa Alpha helped pay for two operations.

There are pros and cons to joining a fraternity or sorority though. In October 2002, Mari Ann Callais the director of student organizations and Greek life at Southern Louisiana University spoke to USU students. According to USU archives, Callais said issues such as alcohol and hazing have brought Greek life under fire. USU is no exception. Although he has never witness a hazing incident, Oakes said he has heard rumors. "It is no secret the Greeks is a safe harbor for alcohol, a refuge where people can drink," he said. It was this type of behavior that led Wise to leave her sorority after the first year.

"It was a good experience being able to get involved in my school, but other than that it just wasn't for me personally. It was too much of the stereo-typical sorority scene you see on TV," said Wise.

USU's Code of Policies and Procedures state hazing is prohibited in any form and alcoholic beverages on campus or at any off-campus university function is subject to disciplinary action. The Student Wellness Center of USU conducts a survey every two years as part of a drug and alcohol program. According to the Web site, of the students surveyed, 75 percent think drinking is a main part of the social life of fraternities and 57% of the people surveyed think drinking is a main part of the social life of sororities.

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