For many people, sororities and fraternities are an integral part of college life. When most students think of Greek associations, they envision the social fraternities that are part of the national fraternity councils, such as the Interfraternity Council or the National Pan-Hellenic Council. Some students may not know that Southern Miss is home to other Greek organizations that are distinct from the typical Greek Life fraternities. For three students, they found their niche in the other Greek organizations the university has to offer.
Junior theater major Jacob Thomas is part of the Alpha Psi Omega Greek Honor Society. Though the group was originally classified as a fraternity, many of its members are women, so it became an honor society. In many aspects, these fraternities are like the ones many students recognize, but there are things that separate the special interest groups from a Greek Life organization.
“Unlike Greek Life fraternities, we don’t actually have a house to live in,” Thomas said. “There are no date parties, but there are still parties nonetheless. Otherwise, there are no other differences that come to mind.”
Perry Forstall, junior music education major, is a member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a music fraternity. Though there are few chapters of Phi Mu Alpha in the country that are IFC, this chapter is not associated with that council. Phi Mu Alpha operates as a brotherhood similarly to what people generally consider to be fraternity.
“We are very similar to many fraternities but what brings us all together is music,” Forstall said. “Our fraternity centers around bettering music in America and bettering ourselves as humans and musicians.”
Kappa Kappa Psi is a national honorary band fraternity for students involved in a university band. Though it is a service fraternity, senior business administration management major Jyron Vickers said there is not much of a difference between the IFC, NPHC and his band fraternity Kappa Kappa Psi.
“Kappa Kappa Psi combines the best elements of each chapter of fraternity,” Vickers said. “We have many brotherhood events from cookout to going bowling. We do a lot of events as a fraternity as a chapter, and we meet other chapters throughout the southeast region.”
One common thread among the social fraternities and those not associated with those councils is the effectiveness of giving back to the community. Like the other fraternities, the three groups participate in philanthropic events. IFC sorority Phi Mu works with a philanthropy organization called Mill’s Music Mission (MMM).
“We use the power of music to help those who need some love in their life,” Forstall said. “We sing at hospitals, nursing homes, rehab centers, and place where we can sing to the sick. When we do the MMM, we try and have a fundraiser before the MMM so we can bring flowers to the people we sing to.”
Alpha Psi Omega participates in a canned food drive every Thanksgiving to help families in need. They also conduct bake sales to raise money for theater activities.
Members of Kappa Kappa Psi participate in service projects, brotherhood events and special preventions. The group plans to go to local middle schools and teach students about music as well as go Christmas caroling during the holiday season.
For the members of these fraternities, what sets Alpha Psi Omega apart from general Greek fraternities is the similar interest in music among all of its members.
“Not only are we all a part of this Honor Society, we are all part of this Theatre Department,” Thomas said. “We see each other almost every day. That environment fosters strong relationships.”
The similar interests among the members led Forstall to join Phi Mu Alpha. Members within the fraternity strengthen the brotherhood through their mutual love of music.
“We come together and make music,” Forstall said. “We sing. We talk about music. We also just get together to have a cookout and just kick back.”
Hanging out as a group is a regular activity for Kappa Kappa Psi band fraternity as well. Though its members come from a variety of disciplines regarding majors, they come together through their participation in one of the many university bands.
“This is an opportunity to serve and help better the band program,” Vickers said. “Being a part of the fraternity enhanced my love for band and I formed a family. I have more friends now because we’re a brotherhood and its all for the love of music.”
Though these fraternities are not affiliated with IFC or NPHC, they participate in many of the same activities. Special interest groups give students the chance to meet other students with similar interests. For some of those involved, they have become part of a group that has increased their college experience.