Where to live? How much to study? How to meet people?
The questions facing new Kansas University students can be frustrating, but members of KU sororities and fraternities say "going Greek" may be the answer to many of those questions.
"When they come to KU, they're all of a sudden put into a situation with 20,000 students," said Lisa Garney, president of Panhellenic. They need a niche to fall in to. In just the rush process alone, you meet so many people."
Derek Bridges, president of the Interfraternity Council, agreed. "Right off the bat, the new member is meeting 80 new friends," he said.
Rush is the time when women visit each sorority and men visit each fraternity to meet the active members and get acquainted with Greek life.
SORORITY rush started Aug. 15 and will run through Aug. 21. The period begins with open house parties. During the week, chapters invite women back for longer visits and rushees also select which chapters most interest them. At the end of rush week, chapters extend invitations to join. On bid day, the women celebrate with their new sorority sisters.
Men interested in joining a fraternity have two options. Formal rush this year is just ending. It ran Aug. 14-17 and followed a process similar to sorority rush.
Another route for joining a fraternity is through informal rush. Men are asked to submit a card, which can be found in the fraternity rush booklet, stating their name and other general information as well as which fraternities they'd like to hear from. IFC officials will then distribute information to the various chapters, which will schedule rush functions for getting acquainted with the prospective member.
During the 1990-91 school year the cost of living in one of KU's sorority houses ranged from about $2,576 to $3,690, excluding optional costs such as parties and pictures.
The average fees paid by live-in fraternity members at KU total about $3,150 during the nine-month period that school is in session.
GARNEY AND Bridges are quick to point out that fraternities and sororities provide more than just a dwelling; they offer an opportunity for students to excel academically, strengthen leadership skills, get involved in community service and other philanthropic activities, and participate in a variety of social events.
Each chapter stresses scholarship and promotes activities to encourage members to observe good study habits. Bridges said most fraternities require ``study hours'' for new pledges, and some offer scholarships to members with the highest grade-point average.
"There's always someone around who's taken an introductory class, so they can help the freshman out," he said. "Houses set up their own study program where they have certain blocks of time set up for new members to study. Most of the fraternities also have a library or a set aside area for studying."
Garney said sorority women also take scholarship very seriously. Some chapters have implemented a mentor program, which matches an upperclassman with a pledge in the same major, she said, while others have scheduled mandatory study time.
"KU is one of only 10 Greek systems in the United States that consistently keeps a grade-point average above the national men's and women's averages," she said.
AS FAR AS leadership goes, Greek men and women serve in positions within the individual chapters and with IFC or Panhellenic. Students also are encouraged to take part in KU clubs, organizations and student government.
"Only 15 to 20 percent of people at KU are Greek, yet they hold a great many of the leadership positions," Garney said.
Philanthropies make up another integral part of sorority and fraternity life. Each chapter supports a particular charity or cause. Members hold special events annually to raise money for their philanthropies.
Also, the Greek system contributes to the Lawrence community through the Fraternity and Sorority Foundation, which donates 5 percent of all money raised through philanthropic activities to a different local charity each year. About $2,500 was raised during the 1990-91 school year to benefit a Lawrence youth organization.
BOTH GARNEY and Bridges note that the social aspect of Greek life also is important.
Members take part in sorority-fraternity functions, intersorority and interfraternity parties, pledge parties and road trips.
"You meet people in other fraternities and sororities throughout the year because of special events," Bridges said. "You have a common bond of being in Greek life at KU."