As fans yell louder and louder, a player is compelled to play harder to match the fans’ intensity. When those fans are friends, victory is a matter of gaining respect among peers. But when the stands are filled with brothers or sisters, victory is about honor for the family.
At Greek Week, 16 fraternities and sororities compete in five different events to bring home glory for their organization. The events — which include lipsyncing, men’s basketball, girl’s football, pizza eating and coed futsal (a type of indoor football) — show a diversity not only in the participants, but in all the organizations competing.
Outside NCAA sports, Greek Week is UC Santa Cruz’s largest sporting event on campus.
Kappa Zeta representative to the Inter Greek Council (IGC) Michelle Manno finds Greek Week’s mission important in her life as a sorority sister.
“It’s meant to unite Greeks with friendly competition,” Manno said. “It’s the biggest Greek event on campus, and it’s our chance to all hang out with each other beyond our regular cliques.”
UCSC’s Greek system is growing at a rapid pace. UCSC has 24 organizations, each with a membership approximated between 20–100 students. IGC organizers for the events say that maybe 10 percent of students are current members of fraternities and sororities.
This number has grown from the 1 or 2 percent reported by organizers for the event three years ago.
While she’s unsure of the total number of Greeks on campus, IGC president and Alpha Psi sister Jenny Vizcarra says that the growth may continue well beyond the next few years.
“Greek life has changed since I joined,” Vizcarra said. “We’ve never had this many organizations. Three more asked to join last year and two more asked for this year, and we have a hold on new organizations. There’s so many more Greeks than before.”
Tri Chi representative Renee Marquis said growth in the Greek system is positive for UCSC. She said with more Greeks on campus, UCSC students may stop thinking their Greek system is less prominent than systems found in other universities.
“At a campus like UCLA, Greek life is an institution to be reckoned with,” Marquis said. “Here, we’re smaller, and we have to constantly prove that our system is not like others, or like the movies.”
At Sunday’s basketball event, the average attendance hovered around 75 for each game played. Often, an overflow crowd of onlookers would wait outside the East Gym, watching their friends play with conviction. Loud chants were heard from as far away as the bus stop above OPERS. The competition, which climaxed in a Sigma Pi victory on Monday, was followed by friendly handshakes between competitors.
The events, which run from May 5–11, will end Friday with a lipsyncing event. Each organization will present an eight-minute choreographed skit to music of their choice. Vizcarra confirmed that over 500 people will compete against each other in this year’s event. Manno said the event will be bigger than last year’s, which saw a capacity crowd occupy the Kresge Town Hall.
“We expect close to 700 people,” Manno said. “It’s our biggest and loudest event by far.”
For all three members of IGC, competition and unity among Greeks on campus was considered key to completing a successful Greek Week. Vizcarra said Greek Week helps students find themselves within their organizations, and in their place in campus life.
“It brings together students to be part of something more,” Vizcarra said. “I know that’s why I joined.”