The Greek InterVarsity (IV) Christian group, an organization founded by members of the Hopkins Christian Fellowship (HCF) who are also involved in Greek life, has become a steadily growing fixture of student life in recent years.
Senior Martha Whiting, a member of Kappa Alpha Theta; senior Macie Wilkins, a member of Alpha Phi and senior Meera Valliath, a member of Phi Mu, are the leaders and founders of the group which holds meetings every Thursday to discuss topics ranging from its members’ Christian faiths to their personal struggles. The group is open to members of both sororities and fraternities, but its members are mainly female.
The founders launched the organization during their freshman year. The group originally started out as a small informal bible study group for students in Greek life.
“Meera and I first started it together. We both saw that it could be something really cool since we were both involved in InterVarsity bible study outside of Greek life,” Wilkins said. “We saw that other organizations like JiGL [Jews in Greek Life] were able to do it and also wanted to combine the two aspects of our life and bring the IV community into Greek life.”
Since then, the group has grown, gaining more members and participating in national conferences.
“The conference we went to a few weeks ago was in Charlotte, N.C.,” Valliath said. “A bunch of schools participated, and it was really interesting to see how large Greek IV is in some other schools. It’s something for our group to aspire to as it continues to establish itself.”
The weekly meetings are informally structured and attendance is not mandatory. Valliath explained that the group uses weekly Bible passages as a basis for discussing their beliefs and personal struggles.
“We deliberately made it more informal because we wanted everyone to feel welcome, even those that are just curious,” Valliath said. “There are times when we share serious stories and we’ll end up crying and really opening up, and there are other times when we go out to dinner and we just laugh for hours over really silly stuff. It’s such a trusting, open environment, and I think it’s a really great balance between fun and learning.”
Whiting talked about the unique role Greek IV played in bridging the two spheres of Christianity and Greek life.
“It’s very easy to look at Greek life in a somewhat one-dimensional way, especially if you have no real connection to it. Stereotypically it can seem like Greek life does not agree with Christian values and that there may be a clash between the two. The reason I think Greek IV is cool is because it gives people in general and people in IV a chance to see a different side to Greek life and get past the negative stereotypes,” Whiting said. “Also, some Greek members might feel judged by Christians, and even those that want to join the faith can feel intimidated to jump straight into InterVarsity. Greek IV opens up a safe space between the two communities. It shows that they are definitely not mutually exclusive.”
Whiting said that she does not see a fundamental conflict between Christianity and Greek life but that the differences between the two can serve as a basis for enlightening dialogue.
“Although there can be some points of difference, I don’t see it as necessarily a ‘Greek’ conflict. It’s more of a part of college life in general. I think these ‘conflicts’ are actually really healthy as it provides an opportunity for discussion and for us to learn through them,” Whiting said.
Although the three founders are graduating in the spring, they already have junior members who are in training to take over the leadership positions during the upcoming fall semester.
“I’m really excited to see how Greek IV will grow,” Wilkins said. “I hope that it will continue to grow in number but intrinsically stay as it is now — as this fun environment in which members can learn more about their faith and themselves in the process.”
All of the sororities at Hopkins currently have members in Greek IV, which gives sisters from different sororities an opportunity to bond.
“It’s one of the highlights of my week,” Whiting said. “I have so much love for the members, and it’s a great way to meet these girls from other sororities that I wouldn’t otherwise necessarily meet. We do lots of activities within the group like dance parties, and we did a s’mores night. At our meetings someone’s always baking.”
Valliath emphasized that the group is open to new members.
“Anyone can come. You don’t need a specific religious background. It’s a place for anyone that wants to talk about real things in a fun, comfortable environment,” she said. “It really helped me mature as a person and I made some truly deep friendships that had a huge impact on my college experience. For the future, I hope more of the fraternity guys feel more comfortable joining though.”
The Greek InterVarsity Christian bible study group meets each Thursday at 8 p.m. in The Charles.