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Some students will be careful not to pack any Greek life apparel when they go home for winter break.

While students who are interested in joining fraternities and sororities must deal with a number of considerations — including paying dues, signing up for housing and balancing academics with new student education — some must face these problems with a lack of parental support.

If a student wishes to register for and join a fraternity or sorority at Penn, the Office of Student Affairs/ Fraternity Sorority Life does not require students to gain permission from their legal guardians if they are over 18, Director of OSA/FSL Scott Reikofski wrote in an email.

“We support student choice and their ability to make determinations that supplement and support their intellectual and personal development,” he wrote. “Students [who] are 18 years of age or older [are] considered adults, capable of making their own decisions,” Reikofski wrote.

“Any issues between students and their parents are exactly that — between parent and student,” he added. “We do what we can to support students in their decisions and their co-curricular involvement.”

During Parents’ Weekend, Penn’s Panhellenic Council hosts a parents panel that provides interested parents with information about Greek life at Penn. It is the responsibility of individual chapters to share with parents any other information about Greek opportunities. Many sororities will mail informational literature directly to parents.

However, some parents still hold a stigmatized few of fraternity and sorority life. One Engineering sophomore — who wished to remain anonymous to prevent tension with his father — tried to join fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon last spring during rush and again this fall. Ultimately, however, he decided not to join because his father disapproves of Greek life.

He did not tell his father that he had entered the rush process until “well into” its start.

“My father was understandably unhappy that I had continued to partake in Greek life without his knowledge and made clear his opinions on the matter,” he said, adding that “the main reason was twofold: academics come first, and he didn’t approve of what he thought fraternity life was comprised of.”

Another College sophomore succeeded in joining a fraternity at Penn without his parents’ knowledge. The sophomore — who also wished to remain anonymous because his parents still do not know that he is in a fraternity — added that meeting dues was difficult to handle on his own.

“My mom is a huge hippie. She has the stereotype of ‘frat life’ in her head … [She] also thought it was dangerous with drinking,” he said. “If my parents ended up finding out, I doubt they would do anything about it. They just wouldn’t be happy.”

Newly elected Interfraternity Council President and College junior David Shapiro said he has seen students in similar situations in his fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau.

“It’s definitely tough,” he said. “We have to try to combat the notion that Greek life equals degenerate [life], which is perpetuated in the media.”

“The Greek community at Penn is involved in all sorts of clubs — they cover every school,” Shapiro added. “We are smart, intelligent and driven kids that just want to share a common experience.”

Some Penn athletes have also kept their involvement in Greek life a secret from their coaches. One College sophomore — who wished to remain anonymous in order to prevent her coach from associating her with her sorority — transferred into a sorority at Penn but did not inform her coach.

“[The athletic department] thinks that joining can be distracting,” she said. “But it’s worth it to me.”

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