Greek Life and Type 1 Diabetes

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Depending on what type of school you choose, you may consider participating in Greek life. Greek life is an amazing way to join a core group of people who you can instantly bond with through social and academic activities. Additionally, you are entering a sisterhood or brotherhood of friends that you will have for all four years of school.  Type 1 should not hold you back at all from entering the recruitment process and finding the perfect fit for your future sorority or fraternity. Here are some suggestions on how to make sure that you have an incredible and safe time going Greek!

Sororities

The recruitment process for girls can be stressful and overwhelming. “Recruitment” or “rush” is the process that first-years, second-years or transfer students go through in order to find the perfect fit into a sorority. The process spans over a few days and involves meeting each sorority on campus. Each day, you have the opportunity to get to know girls from each sorority and learn more about their philanthropy and sisterhood activities. Prepare yourself! The rush process can require you to be on your feet all day meeting new people.

Treat recruitment as mini day trips, and stay prepared with your meter, test strips, lancets, insulin pens or pump supplies, and your go-too-low food or drink. You will be guided through the day with a “Rho-Chi,” who serves as your guide through each day and answers any questions during the recruitment process. Let your Rho-Chi know about your Type 1 and use her as a resource for holding supplies during house visits. The more she knows, the more likely she can also help if any Type 1 emergencies arise.

After the days of recruitment, you will soon find your perfect fit and be a member of a sorority. Each and every sorority is different and amazing in their own way. The process works to fit you with the group of girls that will eventually become your close friends, your support system and your family through college.

The main focus of a sorority is the bond of sisterhood, so you should feel comfortable and honest with your sisters about Type 1. You will be around them for meetings, philanthropy events and social outings. Let them know all of the basics of Type 1, such as your daily routine, the systems of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, and any emergency information that you see fit to tell them.

Fraternities

The recruitment process for fraternities is less formal than the sororities process. Throughout rush week, you will be able to go to all of the fraternity houses and have a chance to meet the brothers. There will be certain social events that each fraternity hosts, so be prepared to show up, mingle, and put your best foot forward.

As the week continues, you are able to gain a better sense of the brotherhood and environment of each house. If you make a connection and feel strongly about a certain fraternity, you can choose to constantly go to their rush events each day to show your interest. By the end of the week, you should have a better understanding of what fraternity you could see yourself in.
From there, fraternities give out bids to people that they enjoyed speaking with and who will represent their fraternity the way that thousands have before them. Generally, you will receive multiple bids and you have the power to accept a bid to the fraternity that had offered one to you!

The brotherhood of fraternities contains the same levels of bonding, philanthropy, and social outings as sororities.  The importance of getting to know each of your brothers is crucial and helps with understanding the special bonds of brotherhood that your certain fraternity prides itself around.

Your brothers are considered to be your friends and your family in your four years of school. Therefore, you should be open and honest about Type 1. Let them know all of the basics of Type 1, such as your daily routine, the systems of hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia, and any emergency information that you see fit to tell them.

The key to making sure that you remain safe in a fraternity is to let them know upfront about what happens in an emergency and what they need to do to help. A quick tutorial with the glucagon kit and a general idea of “low” snacks can be a lifesaver for you!

The social scene

With Greek Life comes parties and social events with other groups of people. In some cases, alcohol will be involved and served. Tailgates, date parties, dress-up mixers and formals are all some of the many fun and exciting events that will come up throughout the years. With this in mind, come prepared for a day or night of partying. Bring all of your supplies with you: meters, test strips, lancets, insulin pens, all monitors, glucose tabs or your go-to low treat.

Over time, you will learn how certain types of alcohol affect your body. (Check our Beyond Type 1’s Booze Guide.) If there is marijuana being passed around any social event, make sure you read up beforehand about how your blood sugars can be affected. Keep in mind that drugs alter your mindset and can affect judgement, which can in turn affect your management capabilities.

It is not ideal to be constantly checking your blood sugar when you are out and about, but it is crucial to make the time. In some cases, you will not know how many carbs are in the mixed juice that you are having, or the amount of carbs in a cup of beer. Have a friend be your “buddy” and ask him or her to make sure that you’re feeling on top of your Type 1 game through the night. Set alarms on your phone every two hours to check in on your blood sugar so you don’t lose track of your levels. Don’t see partying as a time to take a break from your Type 1. Stay on top of your game, keep track of your levels and you can drink and dance the night away!

Stock up the house

It is a great idea to keep an emergency low box somewhere in your sorority or fraternity house, just in case. Make sure that many people are aware of the importance of this box, when you should be given any of the supplies and how to maneuver the glucagon kit.

Lean on your sisters and brothers

Greek life gives you the chance to be automatically connected to a family of those who share the same interests, passions, and activities as you do! Don’t be afraid to lean on your sisters or brothers if you are finding trouble balancing your Type 1 with the upbeat social scene. If you aren’t feeling up to going out, you don’t need to! Have a night in with pizza and a movie. Take a day trip into a town nearby and go to a nice restaurant. You don’t need to feel left out if you’re sick. There are plenty of people that you will meet who would love to stay in and enjoy a relaxing night. Your health is more important than any social event that you might be missing.

Get involved and give back

Get involved in your sorority or fraternity’s philanthropy and community service projects. You could even start your own fundraising project and use the money made to support a Type 1 organization. You could organize a soccer tournament or a field day to involve members of Greek life and other students to raise money for a great cause and have a ton of fun!


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