“Frat guys are all the same. All people in Greek life care about is getting drunk and going to parties. I bet they don’t even care about the school.”
These are all common misconceptions that people make about Greek life on college campuses nationwide. At the University of Rhode Island, there are 15 fraternities and 10 sororities, which contain almost 20 percent of the student body.
Juniors, campus tour guides and presidents of their respective fraternities at the University of Rhode Island, Andrew Parrella, Frankie DiPalma, Robbie Butler and Ryan Deighan have been active in defying these stereotypes.
Parrella, a junior kinesiology major with a minor in sociology and psychology from Franklin, Massachusetts, is the president of Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) at URI and is also a member of the honors program and the Independence Transition Academy, which is part of the South Kingstown School District.
“I feel that we are able to project our views into each of our fraternities,” he said. “We are able to lead them to a more diverse group of people to help benefit the rest of the university rather than just benefiting ourselves.”
Parrella said that each of the fraternities being able to to share their views and experiences has helped to move Greek Life in a different direction. Rather than Greek Life being something that only focuses on its members, it now also focuses on the betterment of the university as a whole.
“Social life first, school second,” is another misinterpretation that DiPalma, president of Sigma Phi Epsilon (SigEp), said has been associated with him during his involvement in Greek Life.
DiPalma has also helped as a change agent toward the stereotypes of Greek life at the university. Majoring in mechanical engineering with a minor in mathematics, the Ramsey, New Jersey native is currently a member of the Phi Tau Sigma Honors Society and is also a member of The National Society of Collegiate Scholars.
“Like Andrew said, being in Greek life is also about leading by example,” DiPalma said. “We’re all presidents of our fraternities and people in our fraternities all look up to us, so us showing that they can get involved on the URI campus and see how it can positively affect their lives also makes an impact.”
Butler, a kinesiology major with a minor in sociology from Fort Collins, Colorado, is president of Phi Gamma Delta (FIJI). He has seen how wearing Greek letters aids as an active and positive way to combat the stereotypes placed on Greek Life.
“I believe wearing your letters is a special thing,” he said. “When you wear those letters on your chest, it almost reflects all the things that not only you do, but what everyone in your fraternity does, so when I wear my letters and I go to certain events I am involved with, I’m not only representing the frat, but I’m also representing the face of URI.”
In addition to his involvement with Greek Life and the tour guiding program, Butler is also a Home Based Therapy Service Provider for Ocean State Community Resources Inc. or OSCAR. He also played club rugby for the university during his first two years as a student. Â
Deighan, a kinesiology major with a minor in leadership studies from Pawtucket, is president of Kappa Sigma, a newer fraternity on URI’s campus. He said that involvement truly helps one grow no matter what it is that they are involved in.
“I do believe that being involved outside of my fraternity definitely has helped me,” he said. “But that’s not the same for everyone. I know a couple of great guys in my fraternity who are only involved in Greek life, and they don’t fit the stereotypes.”
Parrella, DiPalma, Butler and Deighan said that Greek life has had an overwhelmingly positive impact on their college careers and that they will continue to defy the stereotypes that mislabel them.
“Greek Life is a chance to build yourself and be a part of something that is greater than an individual could be,” Butler said.