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Newsletter > March 2008 > "THOUGHTS AS AKA TURNS 100"
THOUGHTS AS AKA TURNS 100
Tim Burke, Manley Burke, email@example.com
In January, The Cincinnati Enquirer carried an almost full page story on the 100th anniversary of the founding of Alpha Kappa Alpha. The article highlighted the sorority’s community service based on its credo “Service to All Mankind.” That anniversary is cause to reflect on the incredible longevity and diversity of opportunity that the Greek system offers to college students.
For any social organization to survive 100 years is remarkable enough. It is particularly impressive when the organization must recruit new active members every year and loses them four years later.
College social fraternities come in many shapes and sizes. From the single chapter professional mining fraternity, which has maintained a chapter and a house at Michigan Tech University (formerly Michigan College of Mines) in Houghton, Michigan since 1892, to National Panhellenic Conference Women’s Organizations with more than 140 chapters spread all across the country.
What links them all is the challenge of recruiting college students to become active members of their organizations knowing that in a short three or four years those new members will become alumni members, so the effort to recruit new members is an almost continuous process. And they must do it in the face of uneven support from the colleges and universities with which chapters are associated. On some campuses, they are warmly welcomed and encouraged; on other campuses, barely tolerated; and on still other campuses, looked upon as something to be gotten rid of. Like with the colleges themselves, fraternities and sororities face the challenges of the times – hazing, alcohol, risk management, the good and the bad of the Internet – all complicate the lives of collegian members of Greek organizations. Still, they thrive, built generally around common interests, be it a profession, a religion, a social background or other commonality. The diversity of interest from group to group doesn’t take away from the common opportunities and benefits that each group offers its members – mutual support, leadership opportunities, commitment to community and the pursuit of academic excellence.
There is much criticism of fraternities and sororities today, some of it deserved. The challenge is to be continuously prepared to tell the positive side of the Greek life story, reminding all of their longevity, diversity and universal commitment to personal development and the betterment of society through philanthropic efforts and community good works.