Starting this spring, students at the University of South Carolina Beaufort will get a refresher course on the alphabet.
The Greek alphabet, that is.
In a move several years in the making, USCB will bring Greek life to campus. Two fraternities and two sororities have established chapters at the school and will begin recruiting students in spring, according to director of student life Kate Vermilyea.
"I think we are still developing what (Greek life) is really going to look like for our culture," she said. "But we have a really tremendous opportunity here to educate these students and tell them how valuable these organizations are in terms of networking and connections across the country."
During the past five years, many students have asked that USCB bring Greek organizations to campus, Vermilyea said.
She said she was not originally in favor of it, but now believes the organizations will further philanthropy and service among students, as well as create a stronger sense of community and involvement.
"So often when you hear of Greek life you think of 'Animal House,' but these organizations do very good things for their campuses," Vermilyea said. "We have a great opportunity to develop an excellent program here upon which things will grow and thrive."
USCB contacted many national organizations to see which would be interested in coming and which would be good fits for the campus. That pool was reduced to sororities Zeta Tau Alpha and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc., and fraternities Delta Chi and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.
Zeta Phi Beta and Kappa Alpha Psi are part of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, meaning they are historically African-American organizations.
The college and organizations will hold information sessions in fall for students. Recruitment will officially begin in spring, according to assistant director of student life Ali Mathe.
Mathe said many students have been coming to the office for more information about the fraternities and sororities.
USCB senior Eric Danko said he likely will not join one because of his upcoming graduation, but he would have loved the opportunity to do so when he was a freshman.
"I think it's definitely a great idea for the school because a majority of people coming into college want to have that Greek life experience, and it will transform this school for the better," Danko said.
He has heard some students say USCB is too small for Greek life, but Mathe said these organizations can still thrive on smaller campuses and will allow students to develop tighter bonds.
Mathe expects about 100 students -- or just less than 10 percent of the student population -- to join the organizations in the first year.
The organizations will not have their own houses on campus, Vermilyea said, but will meet and hold events in the college's common areas, the same as other student groups. In future years, USCB may designate floors or wings in campus housing for the fraternities and sororities, she said.
If the organizations establish a strong foundation in their first year, Mathe said, she expects more organizations will come to USCB.
"I'm hopeful that fraternity and sorority life is going to take off on this campus, and that will call for us to bring more options here for students," she said.
Follow reporter Sarah Bowman on Twitter at twitter.com/IPBG_Sarah.
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