This time of year it’s not uncommon to see “Your big sis loves you” written on car windows, or shirts saying “Chris’s little bro too.” This isn’t because students are suddenly proud to be biological siblings – this is the Greek organization system of pairing up an older fraternity or sorority member with a new member to help understand the beliefs and principles of their organization.
“Your big brother is supposed to be your mentor through pledging,” Vance Aloupis, senior Pi Kappa Alpha brother, said. “He’s supposed to show you the ropes.”
These big brothers and sisters also educate the new members about the University and help them through the transition into college.
“Your job as a big sister is to show them the way,” Jacky Beato, senior and Zeta Tau Alpha sister, said. “You introduce her to her friends and help her get used to the University.”
The Greek “siblings” also provide support for each other.
“My big sister is always the first one to stand up for me, the first one to help me,” Beato said of her own little sister experience. “That is something really nice to have.”
Aloupis knows firsthand how a much a big brother can be help. His big brother, Michael Johnston, was Student Government president while he was Aloupis’ big brother. Aloupis has followed in his big brother’s footsteps as the current SG president.
“He opened my eyes up to what the university has to offer,” Aloupis said. “He opened my eyes to the whole position of SG president.”
Being exposed to the position sparked Aloupis’ interest in it, but Johnston’s encouragement made it a reality.
“He told me that if you really want it, you can do it,” Aloupis said. “It was really a huge inspiration for me. He would say ‘little bud, you’re going to do this and do a great job.’ He was a huge source of my strength.”
While each organization pairs up brothers and sisters differently, most ask members to rank the new members they would like to be paired with and vice versa. There is then a revealing ceremony where everyone learns of the pairings.
“It’s been really great because the past two years I’ve been paired with my number one choice,” Beato said.
“My big brother and I hit it off right away, but he told me that he probably wouldn’t be taking a little brother,” Aloupis said. “I put him down as my first choice anyway.”
Aloupis’ ceremony required him to stand back to back with his big brother and then turn around and see him.
“I was so excited when I saw that it was [Johnston],” Aloupis said.
The connection between big and little brothers and sisters lasts beyond their first year in the fraternity or sorority.
“Throughout the past three years he’s been my mentor and really my best friend here,” Aloupis said of Johnston.
Beato says that she and her big sister would have lunch regularly, which helped form a strong relationship.
“I just love my big sister,” Beato said.
Leigha Taber can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.