Going Greek: Getting Involved with Pi Beta Phi with Roxie Swank

by Stasia Lopez /
Stasia Lopez's picture
Nov 14, 2013 / 0 comments

As part of our College Programming Series, we are featuring Greek Life opportunities, too. There are so many different Greek Life organizations on thousands of college campuses all over the world. Today, we are featuring Ms. Roxie Swank, a two-time Western Michigan University (WMU) alum who received her Bachelor’s degree in 2009 in Health Services and Psychology and her Masters in 2011 in Public Administration. Roxie was a member of Pi Beta Phi (∏ΒΦ) for two and half years. As stated on the WMU website, Pi Beta Phi Fraternity’s mission is “for women to promote friendship, develop women of intellect and integrity, cultivate leadership potential and enrich lives through community service.”


Greek Life can offer many opportunities to students from scholarships and awards, getting involved in the campus and community, and making new friends along the way. There are even opportunities to live in Greek housing, too. Read more about Roxie’s interview below to learn about her experience with Greek Life. For more information about Pi Beta Phi, check out the website to learn more or contact your campus’s Greek Life office, too. 


How did you hear about Greek Life on campus? How did you choose with all the options out there? What level student were you when you joined? (i.e., freshman-senior)

Being a 1st generation college student, I had never heard of Greek Life before coming to WMU. The first couple weeks of my freshman year I saw signs all over campus for Sorority recruitment and all the “chalking” saying “Go Greek,” but because I didn’t really know what going Greek meant, I just ignored it. In October of my freshman year, a couple of girls I had met were talking about their sorority and invited me to come to an event at the Apple Orchard. That event was actually a recruitment event, and I was offered a bid to join ∏ΒΦ later that night.


Fall 2005 Pledge Class

Fall 2005 Pledge Class


Are Fraternities and Sororities only for undergraduates? Is there a reason for that? Are there any graduate-level Greek Life organizations too?

∏ΒΦ and most the Panhellenic sororities at WMU are for undergraduates only. Many graduates are involved as alumni in their undergraduate sororities. I am not sure if WMU offers any Greek Life for graduate students.


Was your Fraternity or Sorority known for something? Explain any symbols (i.e., colors, animals, service, philanthropy, etc).

∏ΒΦ was actually the very first sorority. We were founded as ∏ΒΦ Fraternity for Women, because the term sorority didn’t exist yet. ∏ΒΦ symbol is an arrow, and many times is also represented by Angels, Halos, and Wings. ∏ΒΦ colors are Wine and Silver Blue. ∏ΒΦ also well known for their philanthropic work in literacy.


Did you live in Greek housing (chapter house)? What was that like?

I did not. I lived in WMU housing.


How would you describe to a student who is new to a college or university what the experience of being a part of Greek Life is like? Any concerns or challenges with being a part of Greek Life that you’d like to address (i.e., hazing)?

Being Greek has many benefits. Becoming a part of a sorority or fraternity gives you a home away from home. Overnight you have this new family full of brothers and/or sisters. Being Greek also opens doors to scholarships within each of the organizations. Its gives students the opportunity to grow as leaders, for example serving on an executive board. Being Greek is a great way to get involved in the community and complete community service hours as every Sorority and Fraternity has a philanthropic component. Being Greek means that you have an amazing network of Alumni and brother/sisters all over the world. Many Greeks use their networks to discover opportunities and obtain employment. And last but not least, being Greek gives you the opportunity to make your social life what you want it to be. It’s like overnight you met 50 new best friends, and you don’t have to spend another moment wishing you had someone to do something with.

The biggest challenges of being Greek are the financial commitment and the time commitment. Most sororities/fraternities charge dues that go to their national chapter to cover a wide variety of things, and often college students have a hard time making the financial commitment. Being Greek can be a very large time commitment when you factor in social events, community service events, meetings, academic hours, etc. For some students with already strenuous schedules, it’s challenging for them to be able to attend the Greek events.


Spring 2006 Greek Week

Spring 2006 Greek Week


Do you get invited to a fraternity or sorority? Are there initiations? Explain about your experience and rituals with being initiated to your Fraternity/Sorority?

Yes, individuals are invited to join sororities and fraternities through the process of a bid. Initiation for each sorority and fraternity involves “secret” rituals and ceremonies that cannot be shared with people outside of the sisterhood/brotherhood. ∏ΒΦ and many of their sororities/fraternities still practice rituals and ceremonies that date back to their founding.


Are there expectations that an individual must adhere to once involved with a Greek Life organization?

Yes, at WMU Greek life participants are expected to adhere to all WMU policies and standards, as well as any laws. Many sororities/fraternities also have additional expectations such as GPA requirements, and community service hours.


Once graduated, how can alumni stay involved?

Alumni can service as Alumni advisors to their undergraduate chapters, giving advice and teaching the undergraduate members. Alumni may also help their undergraduate chapter with things such as recruitment and initiation.


What else were you a member of in college? How did you balance Greek Life, classes, work, and other commitments? 

I was a member of the TRiO Student Success program, and I worked two jobs. It was very challenging balancing my time, but I learned to micro-manage myself and make the most of every spare second that I had. The most important thing I learned was to make school my number one commitment, because if I wasn’t a student, I couldn’t do any of the other things.


Anything else you’d like to tell students about joining a fraternity and sorority? What advice would you give to a prospective student? 

I always say that if you are curious go check it out. There is no harm and seeing if it might be right for you, and you don’t have to commit the very first minute. Also, do your research to try and find the sorority/fraternity that most closely aligns with your beliefs, values, and goals. If you decide to go Greek, make it a priority. You get out of it what you put in, and if you do that it can make a lifelong impact.


To summarize, how has being a part of Greek Life impacted you?

Greek life first and for most gave me some of the BEST friends I have today. It taught me that there are groups of people out their where you fit in and that will accept you for just that. It gave me opportunities to get involved on campus and in the community that I would have never found on my own, and overall made my college experience much more enjoyable.


 My little Kimber on the left and my big Carla on the right

 My little Kimber on the left and my big Carla on the right





Anastasia R.D. Lopez, M.A. recently graduated with her Masters degree in Educational Leadership in Higher Education and Student Affairs degree from Western Michigan University. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management from Robert Morris University. Her experience in higher education and student affairs ranges from Career Services, Academic Advising, working with first generation students, students with disabilities, international students, transfer students, undergraduate/graduate students, and study abroad and international education at both public and private universities. She also has related experience in business as well as hospitality and tourism management. Stasia is a Global Education Editor with Wandering Educators and lives with her husband, Fernando, in Michigan.


All photos courtesy and copyright Roxie Swank