Students were greeted at McNeese State University on Monday with the annual Howdy Rowdy Welcome Back celebration. The ongoing festivities will feature a variety of events over the next two weeks to introduce new students and re-acquaint former students with the school's campus and community life.

Eleven Greek organizations were represented Monday in the student union for "Meet the Greeks," a fraternity and sorority recruitment showcase.

Hailey Goodwin, president of the Greek Unity Board, said Greek life has been an essential part of her college experience.

"It has opened so many doors for me as a freshman," she said. "Starting completely over, I was able to get involved in our student government. I was able to become the president of Greek Unity Board and I'm in an honor society for Greeks."

Goodwin said she was motivated to pledge based on her father's positive fraternity experience during his time at McNeese. Though a Lake Charles native, she said she has found a real family experience within her sorority, a gift she knows is especially beneficial for students who are new to area.

"We like to say it's your ‘home away from home.' Even though I do have a home here, it's nice to have all these girls here to rely on," she said.

The family experience extends beyond social aspects, as well.

Goodwin said Greek life provides easily accessible tutors to maintain strong academic records.

"There are so many people with your major in your sorority or fraternity that they actually get to help you," she said. "And often, someone older may have taken a class you're currently in and can give you specific study tips for that professor."

Deana Kincheloe Delgado, director of student organizations and fraternity/sorority life, said Greek life is about much more than the stereotype.

"When it all boils down, fraternities and sororities are really about relationship-building and offering that in a few different aspects," Delgado said.

Navigating college can be a difficult transition for many college students and the support of a fraternity or sorority can help bring balance and ease to that transition, she said.

"It gives you the ability to have a group of people that sees life through the same lens. They have the same experience as you. They're able to give you advice and just be there with you through the many changes that happen during college."

In an effort to maintain maximum safety and well-being for fraternity and sorority members, McNeese publishes an annual "McNeese Fraternity and Sorority Life Scorecard," Delgado said. The report provides key information on each organization's demographics such as diversity, GPA and chapter conduct infractions including hazing, alcohol and sexual assault.

"Transparency is a huge part of what we do," she said.

Howdy Rowdy Welcome Back activities will continue through Thursday of this week and resume Monday-Thursday of next week. For more information or a complete schedule of events, visit www.mcneese.edu.

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