Fraternity Life at UNO works to end negative stigma

Photo courtesy of UNO IFC

Gabriel Guardado

There’s a common stigma and bad reputation revolving fraternities that’s often perpetuated through the media and popular movies such as Animal House and Neighbors, but fraternities here at the University of Nebraska at Omaha break that stigma by being student leaders and creating a lasting impact around the Omaha community.

“You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover,” said Matt Johnson, member of Pi Kappa Alpha. “At UNO, Greek life is special because it’s different than all other universities. We get the opportunity to decide how we are portrayed to the community and I think UNO Greek life has done a great job with that.”

Over the years, fraternities and Greek life across the country have been given a bad reputation due to incidents involving hazing and alcohol. At UNO, policies are different and prohibit acts of hazing to any members who decide to join Greek life.

With incidents involving fraternity chapters getting shut down for various acts due to hazing and alcohol use, many people still have that stereotypical image of a “fraternity guy” in their mind. Members of Greek life at UNO work to break that stereotype and go beyond the classroom, helping the Omaha community with philanthropy events, charity and getting involved on campus.

Interfraternity Council Recruitment Chair and member of Lambda Chi Alpha, Austin Exline believes joining Greek life opens the doors to many opportunities in and outside of campus.

“Being in Greek life is the most engaged and active groups you could join at UNO,” Exline said. “It will get you involved in the community and on campus as well as prepare you for the business life and offers great networking opportunities.”

At UNO, there are four national fraternities represented on campus: Pi Kappa Alpha, Sigma Phi Epsilon, Lambda Chi Alpha and Theta Chi, each offering lifetime membership, lifelong friendships, networking opportunities and philanthropy.

Since joining Pi Kappa Alpha, Johnson has been heavily involved on campus taking on leadership roles and helping around the Omaha community.

“A big thing for me when I joined Greek life is I wanted people that would support me,” Johnson aid. “I wanted people that would help me grow in my leadership skills.”

His fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, partners with the Salvation Army every year to raise awareness for homelessness in the area as well as raise food for the Omaha Food Bank.

Not only is Greek life a way to get involved within the community, but also to engage and become leaders on campus. Many members who decide to join fraternities are not only heavily involved within their chapter holding officer positions but also in other organizations such as Student Government, Dance Marathon and Student Ambassadors.

“Being in a fraternity at UNO really offers a more close-knit community on the general campus,” Exline said. “You really are in the know with what is happening on campus and it gives you a friend group right off the bat that many freshmen are looking for.”

UNO looks to expand its horizon as it transitions from a commuter college to a traditional college by adding another fraternity, Delta Chi in the future, hoping to get more students involved in Greek life on campus. Greek life at UNO is all about creating future leaders by providing leadership experiences and helping students become well-rounded individuals academically.

“I know people are scared sometimes when they hear the word ‘fraternity’, but I would say find out more about it, it doesn’t hurt to get information about Greek life,” Johnson said. “I think that you will not regret that you joined a fraternity because of all the amazing opportunities and benefits that come along the way.”