Students in Greek life gain a second family
Joining a sorority or fraternity on Seton Hall University’s campus is far from uncommon.
Many students have got involved in greek life in order to seek new friends and experiences. A common experience throughout many of these groups is that as you join, one receives a big.
Meg Malkasian, a junior social and behavioral sciences major with a concentration of social work, is a sister of Chi Upsilon Sigma National Latin Sorority, Inc.
“I met my big when I started my process. It was interesting because I’m not her first little and I’m also not her last either,” Malkasian said. “My big is 10 years older than I am, and while that might come as a shock to some I couldn’t be happier.”
This dynamic has given Malkasian a unique insight. “[My big has] been able to give me a lot of advice and guidance that I feel someone my age wouldn’t necessarily be able to give.”
She noted that the responsibilities of being a little include being there for her big no matter what. “The level of commitment for my sorority is a lifetime, it does not stop after graduation and I’m happy about that,” Malkasian added.
Yet, after speaking to Giovanni Paul, a senior special education major and member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated, it was clear that not all Greek Life have Bigs and Littles. Her sorority “does not participate in traditional recruitment with the Collegiate Panhellenic Council, so we do not have bigs and littles,” Paul said.
“However, we are extremely close with our chapter sisters that have come before us and after us,” Paul said. “One of our four principles is sisterhood and we hold that to the highest regard. Building a bond is extremely important because we know that our organization is a lifetime commitment and we foster this relationship even before we begin the membership intake process.”
Holli Bossons, a senior biology major and a sister of Alpha Sigma Tau, has both a little Rebecca Marcinko, a junior elementary/special education major, and a grand-little, or g-little, junior marketing major Alex Czeslowski.
“It is [the big’s] job to help you through your new member process and help you better acclimate yourself with the sorority,” she said. “She teaches you how to balance your academics, work, and social life. She’s your shoulder to cry on when it’s been a rough day, or someone who is there to celebrate all your victories with you. Being a big may seem like a lot of work at times—especially in the beginning—but it’s honestly one of the most rewarding jobs there is.”
This doesn’t mean that being a big doesn’t have its challenges. “The first time I met my little was exciting, but it was also terrifying,” Bossons said. “I was extremely worried that when my little found out who I was she would be disappointed. As these thoughts went through my head, I tried to reassure myself that we must have been paired for a reason, and that she was going to be so excited to be my little.”
Many Greek organizations have meetups for potential bigs and littles to see who bonds well together. This aids the organization in picking a perfect pairing.
Bossons noted, “The best way to bond with both your little is just by getting to know them as people. In my case, it was a lot of coffee dates or grabbing lunch or dinner in the cafeteria at first, but then it turned into hanging out together more and more.”
Kevin Neligan, a senior marketing and sports management major with a certificate in Entrepreneurial studies, is a brother of Alpha Sigma Phi. Neligan is a big and has two littles still at SHU.
“I bond with [my littles] in a similar fashion that I bonded with my big,” Neligan noted. “Intramurals and hanging out on the weekends makes it easy to stay connected to them.” He also added, “I see being a big as someone who will always be there for you no matter what time. Whether its family issues or financial matters, a big is supposed to help their little through the hard times and enjoy the good times with them.”
Claudia Emanuele can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.