By: Mika Rajkumar- Pi Beta Phi
For most of us attending Western was the first time we ever left the security of our friends, family, and home. Whether you’re living away from home or commuting, this school can seem daunting. Western has nearly 25 000 undergraduate students and sometimes it can seem like you are lost in a sea of faces. At least that was the case for me when I first came to Western. I came here knowing no one and made the decision to live off-campus in my first year rather than residence. Even though I made friends during O-Week, I still felt like I didn’t completely belong or have a support system. This definitely pushed me further back into my shell and at the end of my first year, I decided to take a year off from school. I took the year to work and do a couple of courses online but I knew when I came back I would still feel like a small fish in a very large pond.
That first September back I saw the Panhellenic booth on Concrete Beach. I knew Western had a Greek life but didn’t know much about it. However, I took a leap of faith and signed up for recruitment. From that first info session night and throughout the rest of recruitment weekend I seemed to be meeting these amazing young women who all wanted to be a part of something. And eventually, when I found myself in Pi Beta Phi, I began to feel like I belonged. Of course, I found a sisterhood that loved, supported, and nurtured me, but I also created friendships with the incredible men and women in the Greek community. Through socials, philanthropies, formals, etc. I got to experience a smaller community within Western. Since joining Greek life 3 years ago, I have yet to be in a class that doesn’t have a member from the Greek community or able to walk through campus without seeing friendly faces (trust me, I allow extra time to get to class because 9 times out of 10 you will be having conversations with these people). Sometimes even finding a social circle let alone maintaining a social life on a big campus can seem overwhelming, especially for those who may be coming from a small town. Greek life provides a regular and active social life that you can take full advantage of or just participate in based on your comfort level. There are so many events and experiences that are unique to being a part of the Greek community that brings people of different backgrounds, and programs together.
After joining the Greek community I felt like I had a support system not only socially but academically as well. No matter what program you’re in, chances are there’s someone in your sorority or one of the many other Greek organizations that are/have been in it. They are all resources you can go to for notes, as study partners, and counsellors who can guide you through your academic career and later your professional one too. Whether its Engineering, Fine Arts, or anything in between you have people who want to help you succeed. Every sorority has a GPA requirement and provides resources for its members so that they cannot just survive but thrive academically. This network of supportive people can alleviate the stress and pressures that all university students face.
Leadership opportunities are also plentiful within and amongst sororities and fraternities. Each sorority on campus has its own executive council and they are a part of the Panhellenic Council. I know first-hand that on a campus as large as Western, it can be difficult to find ways to obtain leadership roles. In a smaller community, however, one can flourish and make a direct and immediate impact. As I said before, this campus made me originally feel like going back into my shell. But joining a sorority pushed me out of my comfort zone and with the encouragement from my sisters and Greek friends, I held a vice president position on my sorority’s executive council. In fact, one of my jobs was actually running recruitment for Pi Beta Phi. Joining this community for many of you could be the chance to gain valuable leadership experience that you may not be able to get outside of it.
Home is a place where friends and family can gather to create memories and bonds, filled with love, support, and a sense of belonging. I got all that in the UWO Greek Community. It made this daunting campus feel like home and a place that’s going to be very hard to say goodbye to come end of the year.