It’s that time of year again; you can feel it in the air. Guys are dusting off their line jackets, girlfriends are ordering paddles from Unique Impressions- yes my friends, it’s Greek season. The Black Greek Letter Organizations, known affectionately as “The Divine Nine”, prepare for another semester of growth and expansion. Nowhere is this time more exciting than at historically black colleges. Co-eds discuss their knowledge about the organizations, their processes, and which (if any) interest them. Freshman students unfamiliar with the phenomenon gaze with curiosity as the varying groups go back and forth like Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck:
“Alpha Season!” “Kappa Season!” “AKA Season!” “No, Delta Season!”
With the Spring semester as the most popular time for probates, Greeks are looking to add members who will improve their status and reputation as one of the best organizations. As a member of Alpha Phi Alpha, I remember this time vividly, both as an Alpha and as an aspirant expressing interest. While the post-probate memories are some of my most fond, learning the nuances of how and when to express my desire to join a fraternity was truly a fascinating experience.
It’s a delicate process. While you don’t need a Groucho Marx mask with the glasses and funny mustache, discretion is very important. As an “OG Triple OG” in the Greek game, it pains me to see aspirants blow their chances by making errors unknowingly.
Many of them do not personally know a member of a fraternity or sorority who can provide some insight about the protocol. So let me get my Brett Favre on and mentor the future Aaron Rodgers of the Greek world. With the help of a few good friends, I’ve compiled a list of the do’s and don’ts of how to express interest in a Greek organization. These tidbits of information will help increase your chances of being selected by your org of choice.
Do: Build your reputation as a leader and upstanding citizen.
Fraternities and sororities seek out students who carry themselves as future leaders of the community. Furthermore, they seek unique individuals. Despite common belief, Greek orgs are not a gang or a group of “co-signers”. They are a collection of the best and brightest that use their differing approaches to life to impact their environment. Establish yourself as one of these individuals by becoming involved in student life, SGA, and more. This builds your resume and shows your ability to work in the group setting.
Don’t: Take to Social Networks (Facebook, Twitter) to discuss your interest in joining a Greek Organization.
“Yo the Alphas go hard! I can’t wait to pledge! #APhi” @notanAlpha32
Yeah…not so much. While the compliment is appreciated, shrewdness is valued more. What organization you’re interested in is not information that should be shared with your followers. Yes, people do tell their close friends or their “boo-ski”, but keep your desires close to you. In the wrong hands, knowledge of your aspirations could harm your chances.
Do: Remain humble.
It may be a hot mixtape from Maybach Music, but no one is “Self-Made”. We all need help to accomplish tasks and reach dreams, so keep that in perspective when you talk to people, both Greek and Non-Greek. When you are recognizable on campus, it is easy to believe you are a lock to be selected by an organization.
Going into my junior year, I was SURE I would be picked. Owner of my own company, a member of the student government, starting point guard for the Miami Heat (sike!); the Alphas would be crazy not to select me, right? Well they didn’t, and I waited an entire year for the opportunity. When talking to people, be respectful, don’t call yourself an aspirant, and refrain from sarcasm; be polite and have scruples. I’ve said it before; think of Uncle Willie from Friday: “YOU AIN’T…NO…PLAYUH.”
Don’t: Jump in, around, behind, or through the party walks.
Yes, our strolls are wild, obnoxious, and detrimental to you “going IN” on the dance floor. We’re aware. Despite this, strolling (or “party walking”) is a tradition near and dear to the Divine Nine not to mention a marketing tool. Infringing on it is EXTREMELY frowned upon. Don’t mock the fraternities…not in public at least, and please don’t step in front of a party walk intentionally. Just because you saw it work in “Stomp the Yard” doesn’t mean it will help you. This applies to the ladies, too. Ever seen a Sigma Gamma Rho get upset? Spare yourself.
Do: Approach your organization of interest with confidence.
We’re all people. Expressing interest is definitely a bit intimidating, but don’t be afraid. Think of it as trying to talk to a girl/guy you like. Guys, don’t come with that weak stuff; keep your head held high, and put some bass in your voice. Girls, be personable, and talk with class. Remember: “You’re a lay-dee.” As I said, this is a private matter, so discuss in private or discreetly ask to speak at a later time. When the opportunity comes, handle that.
Don’t: Act like a groupie.
If you act like a groupie, you’ll be treated as such. Search through the annals of history: when have you EVER seen a groupie treated with dignity and respect? I watched rap videos, and the answer is…wait, there was one time when…nope; never. Avoid this category at all costs. It doesn’t help you in the selection process, and if you are considered, it leaves you open to be taken advantage of.
Hopefully these suggestions are helpful to those aiming to join a Black Greek Letter Organization. It is a lifelong bond that provides many opportunities, both personally and career-wise. Keep striving, and with letters or without, success is destined to “holla” at you.
Long live the Boogie,
Cedric Perry is the producer of the sitcom “We’re Just Talking” and author of two young adult novels, Homecoming and In Line for Love. For more on Perry, go to www.pick6time.com.