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Nongreek groups host to variety of interests

Nov. 12, 2004

By MEREDITH AMOS, reporter

Rush T-shirts mimicking a popular movie or ad campaign complete with a clever slogan, dominate the daily wardrobes of many Baylor students, who proudly advertise their affiliation with a chosen Panhellenic sorority. However, even if you don't own any of these cute T-shirts, there's no reason to feel left out. A plethora of opportunities to expand social circles and explore leadership and service interests await the outgoing and proactive woman outside Baylor's nine national sororities.

Many of these organizations require little to no financial commitment, more flexible time investments and a more diverse membership both economically and culturally. According to Tam Dunn, coordinator of Panhellenic organizations, recently, there has been a drop in women joining social sororities because of the increasing financial burden, which ranges anywhere from $450-$1,050 per semester.

Around 300 nongreek groups on campus encompass nearly every interest and hobby. Musical, religious and political groups foster a sense of individualism and develop in students a sense of accomplishment and identity. Professional and honor societies focus students on their future goals and demonstrate to future employers or graduate schools a commitment to scholarship and keen interest in a specific career.

Generally, sororities are a "one stop shop" for service, social, intramurals and leadership opportunities; however, all these tenets of the well-rounded student are offered in abundance through nongreek organizations.

"As co-director of Steppin' Out, I plan all semester for the event, and it's great seeing people's gratitude for the work you're doing," Stephanie Shipman, a Houston senior and nongreek, said. "Focusing on helping others is more important to me than hanging out with the same people all of the time."

Beyond Panhellenic organizations, women can meet more people with different backgrounds and perspectives on life, broadening their cultural interaction. Or, through the diversity that other organizations offer, they can find a group in which they feel more comfortable.

"An area we have yet to explore is the potential to integrate diversity into our greek system," David Ortiz, special assistant for diversity initiatives, said, "to give all students a sense of belonging and ownership."

The recent explosion of culturally based sororities, outside of the traditional Panhellenic groups, has greatly supported this pursuit of diversity. Within the Panhellenic system, there are financial obligations and legacy traditions that some minorities might not be able to overcome. Additionally, most women find a comfort level with people from similar backgrounds, and cultural organizations, both greek and nongreek, are an outlet for this partiality.

Baylor women shouldn't feel pressured by the abundance of greek attire on campus, and, instead, should focus on what specifically they want out of their college experience. The inherent benefits of being involved in any organization will enhance and deepen anyone's college years, whether she spends her time inside or outside greek life.