Hope You Go Greek!

Fraternities and sororities are a huge part of going to college in America. No matter where you go there are different ideas, stereotypes, and myths about Greek organizations. I am here to give you a glimpse into the amazing, diverse, and fun-loving lives of greek members at Hope College. Greek Life at Hope aims to enrich the lives of students by fostering lifelong relationships and connections through leadership, academic, and social accountability. Each organization is unique and brings something completely different to the Hope community.

About 20% of the campus is a member of a Greek organization. From this group of people, you will find students that are involved in nearly every activity on campus.

One thing that is special about the culture of Greek Life at Hope is that it is not exclusive and it will never inhibit you from experiencing other parts of campus. I have found that in joining a sorority I opened up connections to nearly every pocket on campus and was able to meet people outside of my dorm, class, major, and even interests. Nearly every campus activity that you join you can count on a Greek member being there. To be Greek at Hope is a great way to have a presence in Hope’s community and to be able to see a familiar face no matter where you go.

There are a couple of things that make Greek Life at Hope a little different. For one, we have rush in the spring as opposed to many schools that recruit new members in the fall. This allows freshmen to get settled and meet people from every organization without any sort of pressure. In addition to that, our rush process is a little over two weeks long. This allows for rushees — students rushing a fraternity or sorority — to actually get to know the actives and vice versa. What I really appreciate about our rush process is that it is designed so that rushees are given multiple opportunities to explore every single organization before finding which one would best fit them. When I rushed, not only did I find a sorority I love, but I met so many people in different organizations all around campus.

Once rush is over rushees will receive a bid, a formal invitation, to join an organization. At this point, Greek Orientation starts — a 3-week orientation process that all new actives will go through after choosing an organization. These 3 weeks are filled with learning about the history and traditions of each organization. It was during this time that I created hilarious memories and bonds with my pledge class, the same people that rushed with me.

After those three weeks are over, you are welcomed with open arms to be an active member of your sorority or fraternity. This is when the real fun begins. There are countless social events that will introduce you to members of nearly every Greek Organization on campus. Not only will you grow socially but each organization participates in fundraisers that will benefit the community. Fun fact: Did you know that Dance Marathon was brought to Hope by Greek Life? Since then the Greek community has been a pivotal part of the success of Dance Marathon at Hope.

Once joining this community you will find that there are a couple of things that differentiate Hope Greek Life from the Greek communities you may hear about at other schools. For instance, apart from one national fraternity on campus, every other organization is local. The only difference is that local organizations do not abide by any national laws regarding dues. Another thing you will find is that organizations may not be referred to by their letters. For instance, there are Dorians, Emersonian, Sibyllines, and Cosmos. May feel tricky but you could easily get the hang of it. Another difference is that not every member lives in the organization’s house. At Hope, only about ten members live in the organization’s cottage.

I rushed Delta Phi because I wanted to be a part of something at Hope. What I found is that I entered a community that stretched me to experience college in a completely different way. I found friends that make me laugh for hours, are up for every kind of adventure and are committed to supporting each other in all kinds of ways. I love carrying on traditions and values that began before I was even born. I became part of a family line of amazing women that remind me to work hard and live life to the fullest. I am incredibly thankful for being a part of Greek Life at Hope College and the ways that it has enhanced my time at Hope. I know it may sound like a lot but I encourage all students to explore the opportunities that this community can bring!

You can find out more about Greek Life here! For another, more detailed, blog about Greek Life at Hope check out this blog!

The Most Wonderful Time at Hope College

Coming back to campus after Thanksgiving may not sound like any fun. However, there is nothing like Christmas music and festive decorations to make the last couple weeks of the semester that much better. Holland, Michigan, may be well known as a beach town, but there is something so enchanting about 8th Street covered in snow and strung with lights and stockings above the Bultman Student Center fireplace.

Every year Student Congress decorates the Bultman Student Center with everything from a 20-foot tree to poinsettias and lights. The dining halls are always festive and Phelps has one of the best Christmas playlists out there.

The annual Presidential Christmas Tree Lighting

When President John Knapp and Mrs. Kelly Knapp were at Hope they planted a Christmas tree right next to the President’s House. Every year since, our campus has come together the week after Thanksgiving for the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting.

This year was the President’s Sixth Annual Christmas Tree Lighting. The campus gathered around the tree and we counted down for the tree to light up. With a beautifully lit tree, we sing Christmas carols led by the President.

When Betty Voskuil moved into the President’s House, she wanted to continue the longtime tradition of setting up luminaries along the sidewalk of her house on Christmas. She then thought it would be even more beautiful to place the luminaries along the sidewalk through the Pine Grove. After we lit the tree at the President’s House, all the students walked through the luminaries to the Bultman Student Center.

In recent years we have decorated Santa cookies in the Bultman Student Center while Christmas hits blast through the speakers. This year, we took it to the next level and combined the Tree Lighting with the weekly SAC Coffeehouse for a Christmas-themed Coffeehouse. There were three different performers but one of the most memorable was President Voskuil opening up the Christmas Karaoke with Jingle Bells.

The whole afternoon is such a fun study break for students to gather and celebrate the holiday season, but the Christmas Tree Lighting is just one of the many festivities around campus this time of year. Dykstra Hall, for years, has a decorating contest that completely transforms the residential hall. You will never see anything like it. I’ve seen everything from a full reenactment of the movie Elf to the entire cluster wrapped in wrapping paper.

Dykstra Cluster 1-2 completely wrapped in wrapping paper.

I could go on and on about the Holland Parade of Lights or all of Durfee Hall singing Christmas Carols in the alleyway between Dykstra and Gilmore. All of these traditions make Hope that much more like home during the holidays.

Worrying About the “What If?”

Female Hope Student
Chandler Alberda is a junior from Austin, Texas

Deciding where to go to college was just as stressful and scary as it was exciting. What if I made the wrong choice and I missed out on an entirely different experience at a different school? I wanted someone else to decide for me so I didn’t have to think about it. My whole mindset changed once I went on college visits. As I visited different campuses I began to envision what it would look like to live there.

Being on Hope’s campus, I could feel the supportive and lively community even though I was only in Holland for a couple of days. Seeing the campus, talking to the students and sitting in on classes made my decision very clear. I saw myself as a student at Hope. Buying my dorm stuff, meeting my roommate and signing up for classes was all fun but the hard decisions didn’t just stop once I decided to go to Hope. All of a sudden, I had to choose a major.

At Hope, many new students come in as “undecided.” This was refreshing because I didn’t know exactly what field I wanted to go into. With the liberal arts education, I was able to take classes in the musical arts, political science, communication and business, all in my freshman year of college. This way I wasn’t picking a degree out of the blue but I could test out the waters.

I met so many people when I came to Hope and at least half of them were all deciding on their major too. One of the first classes every student takes is the First Year Seminar (FYS). In this class, you and other first-year students discover what your passions are and can transition into college together. We also took personality tests that would tell us what our strengths are. I was Woo, Communication, Activator, Maximizer, and Futuristic.

I met with faculty and advisors to find out what Hope could offer me, and I discovered the types of classes I enjoy. Once I paired my passions with my strengths, I felt confident in declaring my major. I became a Communication major and I fell in love with the upper-level classes that I was taking even though I thought that declaring a major could prohibit me from experiencing other classes that Hope had to offer. Through the general education requirements and electives, I still got to take classes that taught me skills outside of communication.

Decisions are hard and college can be scary. What is comforting is that there are many students that have gone through the same trials. Everyone else that shows up on move-in day will be figuring it out just like you. A huge part of college is discovering what you love to do and making your passions a part of your everyday life. Hope College has so many resources available to discern those passions. Take advantage of the advising programs and technology that Hope has.

Lastly, transitioning from high school to college is going to put you out of your comfort zone. Try new things and take chances. You never know what opportunities can arise in places you would least expect. Deciding on a college and picking a major are both hard decisions. But they are easier made if you take the time to explore your options. An overnight visit to a college and a class in a subject you’ve never studied can be intimidating but you may come across your new favorite thing.

Campus in a Summer State of Mind

hope hat and water bottle in foreground, shadow of big red lighthouse in background

When your parents first drop you off at Hope, it is hard to imagine that you might not want to go back to “home sweet home” next summer. Holland is an enjoyable city to be in from Fall to Spring, but summertime is prime time for this beach town. Locals will tell you that Hope students are truly missing out when they pack their bags for summer, only to return when classes start up for fall.

Finding Friends

What is stopping people from staying around in the summer? Most often it is the misconception that campus is dead. That is farthest from the truth. Hope has a variety of activities and programs that keep the campus full of life all summer long. Events and Conferences host dozens of camps that bring in new groups from all over the country weekly. And, while it’s definitely not the same vibe as during the school year, there are plenty of Hope students who stick around campus in the summer that it’s no trouble finding friends to hang out with. I used to be skeptical about staying in Holland over a break until one Easter I wasn’t able to make it home. Turns out, there were so many others that I would not have gotten to know and love if I had not stayed on campus.

Working on Campus

Student workers for physical plant driving a utility vehicle. Nearly every office on campus hires students to help them out during the summer. You learn so much and gain respect for the way that our staff and faculty spend all summer bettering the campus so that everything runs smoothly when students return in the fall.  Student workers help with everything from landscaping with Physical Plant, researching with their professors, giving campus tours with the Admissions office, and more! All of these options are valuable experiences and opportunities that are still relaxed enough to give you plenty of play time outside of the office.

Living in a Beach Town

The Holland area is a vacation destination for thousands of people every summer which makes staying here over the summer the perfect balance between work and vacation. I have been to the beach and out for ice cream nearly every day and it never gets old. If you are down for an adventure, there are plenty of day trip options to nearby state parks or other beach towns like Saugatuck or Grand Haven. Or relax by taking advantage of the Pine Grove, beach volleyball courts, or strolling beautiful downtown Holland. With all this to do, my friends and I haven’t had a dull moment on campus this summer.

Staying at Hope in the summer is experiencing the same friendly and loving community except with a summer state of mind. Most of the same resources you use during the academic year such as the Bultman Student Center, the Dow, and the library are still available. Plus staff and faculty love to see students around in the summer, and often times, they are even more willing to meet with you if you need advising or just a chat. You are guaranteed to meet new people and have fun experiences you would not have during the school year. Turns out, in college, staying at school over the summer is actually really fun!