Last spring when I first joined my fraternity, I got a lot of questions from my friends and family. The question that popped up the most, however, was, “How are you in a fraternity? You’re a girl.”
My older brothers, especially, were confused about it and probably still don’t understand how I am a part of one, and I’ll be honest, when my friend first asked me to join her fraternity, Phi Sigma Pi, I was confused at first as well.
So, who are we? Phi Sigma Pi is a gender-inclusive national fraternity that operates on the foundation of leadership, fellowship and scholarship. Anyone of any gender, orientation or background is welcome to join, just as long as they meet the GPA requirement, as we are an honor fraternity, and go through the learning process of the chapter before officially becoming a brother. My school has an entire Professional Fraternity Council, which consists of other gender-inclusive fraternities like my own, including chapters focused on community service and specific majors or areas of study. The Professional Fraternity Council, as well as each of the individual fraternities within the council, offers a wealth of opportunities that helps prepare its members for their future careers and lives.
I joined during a time when I was trying to figure out who I was and where I fit into my enormous college campus. It was midway through junior year and, though I had tried out some different academic and social organizations, I hadn’t yet found that place where I felt most comfortable. Time was running out and I was longing to create the incredible college experiences that so many of my friends already had. When a good friend of mine told me about the fraternity, I was definitely hesitant at first, but the more she expressed her love and passion for the group, the more excited I became. So, I attended an informational meeting and a week of recruitment events and soon was hooked.
I was nervous to go through a week of recruitment, because I had gone through sorority recruitment my sophomore year and realized that it just wasn’t for me. I quickly discovered that this rush week was going to be far different from the PanHellenic recruitment I had gone through a year before. It was more about meeting the brothers and getting a feel for the brotherhood in a relaxed and fun setting. By the end of rush week, I knew that this fraternity was the place for me and that these were the people that I had spent my first two and a half years of college looking for.
The most frequently asked question that I’ve received is whether or not it’s weird to be in a fraternity with both guys and girls. At first, I was concerned about that, because it seemed like something that it would take time to get used to. Actually, though, it didn’t take any time at all. Because the environment was so welcoming, I felt comfortable immediately around my new brothers. Yes, I may have meshed a little bit more with the girls than with the boys at first, but now I feel comfortable going to any of my brothers just to talk, as I know that they will listen to me and provide me with the best advice than they possibly can.
The other question that I’ve been asked most is, since we are a chapter of a national honor fraternity, does that mean that we only focus on academics? While yes, we are an honor fraternity, that doesn’t mean that we don’t have social functions as well. As I said earlier, my fraternity has events centered around fellowship, leadership and scholarship.
Fellowship events are those that bring us together as a brotherhood, such as semi-formal, or even something as simple as having a potluck dinner. We also have bigs and littles that we are assigned through a reveal similar to the ones Panhellenic sororities have. Leadership programs help members build skills that will come in handy in the professional world, and the executive positions available improve the brothers as individuals, as well as teach them how to work well in group settings and be better public speakers.
Finally, even the scholarship leg of the values trifecta lends itself to social events, especially those that push brothers to challenge themselves and strengthen their academic focus. While Phi Sigma Pi may be recognized as an honor fraternity, the community is so much more than that; what’s really valuable is the tightly knit camaraderie and sense of belonging that the group creates.
By junior year of college, I thought that I had tried out everything that I was going to try and had accepted the fact that I still hadn’t found my place on this huge campus. I was ready to give up on finding that college experience I had always heard about. Then, when I was least expecting it, Phi Sigma Pi found me. Over the past eight months as a member of this brotherhood, I have created more memories than I did throughout the rest of college thus far. It may have taken me by surprise, but I could not be more thankful to have become a part of such an amazing group of people.