On a cool and crisp January afternoon, students, faculty, alumni and students from other schools patiently waited in a lengthy line that stretched throughout the outer hallway of Kean University's Harwood Arena. Two tall, grey metal detectors adjacent to three plastic tables were in front of the pathway of the students and faculty, accompanied by multiple police officers anticipating to check in students' bags and personal belongings, as the audience members awaited the amusement and entertainment that their event would bring.
As identification cards were processed and approved by the event's employees, active members of Greek organizations, Kean alumni, students and other fans of Greek Life filled the spacious Harwood Arena. Greek letters and vivacious Greek designs that commemorate the 30 different organizations at Kean blanketed the blue and white padded walls and the carpet beneath them.
On the floor, the architects of the murals dedicated to honoring their organizations appeared synonymous with their organization's colors. No matter how big or small each group's numbers were, their uniqueness through their designs and outfits helped to attract those who had even the slightest of inclination about Greek Life to learn more about why it is so great.
Ecstatic fraternity and sorority members in the middle of the floor and inquisitive members of the Kean community who walked from one Greek table to another only meant one thing: Meet The Greeks was back.
From the informational sessions on the floor about Greek Life at 5 p.m., to the exhilarating and energetic performances by 17 organizations that concluded at 10 p.m., the day dedicated to informing students about Greek Life and the abundance of benefits it provides happened on Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2018.
The event began at 5 p.m. with a special and lively mix of some of the country's most popular hip-hop, pop and EDM tunes by DJ Nix in The Mix, a renowned DJ who performs his mixes at Meet the Greeks every semester. As the fans of Greek Life danced and sang on the floor, members of the variety of Greek organizations danced and sang along. Prospective new members of these organizations stepped up to their fraternity or sorority of their choice and spoke to the members, while exchanging contact information with the young students.
Maria Camila Aponte, a junior majoring in mathematical science and a sister of Lambda Theta Alpha Latin Sorority Incorporated, felt that the familiarity that each organization shows during the five-hour event was the single biggest factor that attracted students who wanted to know about Greek Life to the 30 different tables in the room.
"If it feels like home [and] if [students] have the feeling when they see an organization that they cannot explain, it is the right one for them," Aponte said. "There is always this rush to attract new members who may one day become brothers of a fraternity or sisters of a sorority."
Different members of other organizations, like Adre Brown, a senior majoring in communications with a concentration in media and broadcasting and a brother of Beta Kappa Psi Fraternity Incorporated, felt that the exposure to what Greek Life looks like contributed the most to students visiting the Greek tables of their choice.
"Meet the Greeks is definitely one of the many ways to get exposure for any of the organizations. Seeing fraternity and sorority members rock their letters, do their strolls and step and let people know what they are truly about and what they do helps the most," Brown said.
Many of the Greek members in front of their tables were previously not in organizations until this semester. As alumni and older active members exchanged salutations with people interested in their organizations, new members of each fraternity and sorority greeted younger students and informed them about Greek Life, all while enjoying their first time at Meet The Greeks as a Greek.
Jason De La Cruz, a sophomore majoring in communications with a concentration in media and film and a new brother in the Sigma Theta Chi fraternity, commented on his first experience being behind the table and speaking to those who appeared to be interested.
"Meet the Greeks definitely influenced me to join this organization. It showed me the way to find my home. This is amazing for me, and I feel like an insider, now that I am in the organization," De La Cruz said.
For other upperclassmen, however, their last Meet the Greeks as undergraduate students was experienced, and for some, being in front of their unique table designs for the last time as active members was bittersweet.
Stephanie Cardenas, a senior majoring in biology with a minor in health and a sister of Omega Sigma Psi, explained her enjoyment for her final time.
"The first time, I think, I loved it. It was the first time that I was a part of something so big where everyone was looking at our organization and what we were doing. This was my third year, and now I am going to graduate and I wanted that last chance to tell new students, 'come, join what I did. See where I started and where I am ending'. I feel like this is always a great opportunity," Cardenas said.
Contrarily for another organization, the first time having an official tabling session was worthwhile. The newest fraternity on campus, Lambda Upsilon Lambda, crossed their first line at Kean University last semester. However, their first information tabling session proceeded on Tuesday afternoon. The new members of the fraternity greeted the students who walked by their table with kindness and professionalism, as they learned the new group's motives and mission for their new campus.
The newest members of the fraternity spoke on how incredible the experience was in finally being in the organization of their choice, as well as being on the floor for Meet The Greeks as an official organization recognized by Kean.
"It feels humbling to be here for the first time, because last semester, we were all on the other side of the table, so now we are here, and we are amazed," said Devante Bravo, a senior majoring in criminal justice and a new brother of Lambda Upsilon Lambda. "Us being the founding line [at Kean], we have a lot to bring to the table.
For the students who walked throughout the arena, the experience of meeting members of the 29 different tables proved to be a memorable one. Many freshmen who were excited to enjoy their first Meet the Greeks walked away with a positive experience and some decided to write their names on the interest lists of the different Greek organizations.
One freshman in particular and a journalism major, Alexandra Hernandez enjoyed her first time at Meet the Greeks. “This was my first time, and I really enjoyed looking at the Theta Phi Alpha table and their designs," Hernandez said. "I also liked their outfits too, and the fact that there were a lot of them. It definitely makes makes me more interested to look into it.”
Other returning students, such as Elijah Head, a senior majoring in psychology, were able to gain an understanding of Greek life, even if they were not interested in joining an organization at the moment.
“It may not be for me, but I definitely enjoyed the experience. The different members of each organization are very high on empowering and helping each other while helping their organization reach new heights for the community."
At about 6:30 p.m., all of the students were escorted to the bleachers inside of the arena. The show was about to begin. As the performances commenced, different organizations spoke on how beneficial Greek Life was to each member and the University, as well as what being in an organization means as a whole. Brothers from Gamma Psi Epsilon spoke on the substantive power that Greek letters can have on one’s life. Sisters from Mu Sigma Upsilon commented on the diversity of the sorority and how Greek organizations are growing with people joining from all colors.
After a select amount of organizations spoke about their groups, the strolling and step show kicked off. The brothers of Beta Kappa Psi started off the show with a custom step devoted to their fraternity’s history. Groups such as Delta Sigma Theta and Psi Sigma Phi would get on the stage to strut their stuff as well. Omega Sigma Psi, Lambda Tau Omega and Chi Upsilon Sigma son followed with their energetic and frenetic strolls and dances, all accompanied by popular jersey club beats that the audience danced to simultaneously.
As the show progressed, a dance battle also happened between three students in a battle of New Jersey between South Jersey, North Jersey and Central Jersey as the crowd cheered and danced along. Lastly, the show concluded with some of the popular Divine Nine organizations stepping foot on the stage. Groups like Alpha Phi Alpha, Phi Beta Sigma and Iota Phi Theta all performed to their favorite songs as the audience also danced with them. At the end of the show, a group stroll with all of the organizations who performed happened on the stage and on the floor in an exciting finish.
For another year, Meet the Greeks was a success. Strolls were performed, information about each organization was given, and fans of Greek life walked away with more awesome memories of the fun event that takes place every semester.