By Harlton Fitzherbert–
When one imagines a college student’s life in a fraternity or sorority, they might conjure up images from popular films that depict unsupervised parties, concerning pledges, and questionable behavior. At San Diego State College however, there is a new house that is squarely aimed at enhancing a moral and respectful attitude towards life and the self. The so named, “Delta Beta Om,” will be the nation’s first Buddhist Greek Organization.
They do not yet have their houses established at the campus, but they meet weekly for meditation. Meditation is led by Jeff Zlotnik, who is the organizer of this fraternity and sorority. He wants to establish houses that are based upon Buddha’s teaching of compassion. The students involved in Delta Beta Om will not be limited to just their own house activities, but they will interact with the rest of the Greek system. They will be involved with formals, parties, and other Greek events, but the point of Delta Beta Om is to teach students how to live a mindful life according to Buddha’s teachings. Zlotnik does not want to separate and isolate those wanting to learn more about Buddhism, but wants to provide a safe and comfortable space for students. College is a stressful time and one of the four main truths according to Buddhism is human suffering. Through self-reflection and mediation students can let go of their stress, and better handle college life.
Delta Beta Om is not the first religious based fraternity or sorority. Many colleges across the United States have Christian based fraternities or sororities. What is significant about them, in relation to their secular counterparts, is that they allow students to have a connection to their faith or belief system while allowing them to branch out in new social environments. Many believe that it is hard to be religious and to belong to the Greek system within college campuses, but as religion builds an increasing number of Greek houses then they can work together. Many students like the activities and philanthropy work that come with Greek life, and religious houses allows students to participate in such a beneficial involvement.
Now that Buddhism has an establishment in the Greek system, other Buddhist students at colleges may follow suit. This could lead to other religions also founding their own Greek organizations. This may sounds like just another way to separate or isolate students of different religions, but college is all about learning and growing into adulthood where various faiths are often expressed openly. Even though students may be differing religions they still have a lot to learn from one another. The Greek system is vastly known as how it is portrayed through the media to be wild and out of control, but what remains unseen in fraternities or sororities is that they bring people together and often enhance the community around them. If different religions have their own fraternities or sororities, then it could provide a ripe opportunity for them to work together for events. Many religions teach love, peace, and compassion. If students are using their religious beliefs in tandem with their philanthropy work, than this has great potential to promote peace and unity within those students who will eventually decide our nation’s course in the future.