An Interview with a Well-Rounded Seminole

May 6, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the president of the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at Florida State University. If this isn’t the definition of a well-rounded student, then I don’t know what is!

Amy Nicotra- President of FSU's KKG

Amy Nicotra- President of FSU’s KKG

Name: Amy Nicotra

Year: Junior

Hometown: Fleming Island, FL

Major: Criminology

Minor: Spanish

Q: Let’s start with the basics. What are you currently involved with on campus?

A: I currently serve as the President of Kappa Kappa Gamma. I am also an Undergraduate Research Opportunity Program leader, similar to a FIG class, which is a volunteer teaching opportunity to mentor freshmen and sophomores in undergraduate research. I am the Director of the Student Council for Undergraduate Research and Creativity, which is a bureau in Student Government. In this role, I have the pleasure of working with leaders in the undergraduate research community to put on programming to engage students in undergraduate research, provide funding for conferences, and showcase their accomplishments through the undergraduate research journal (The Owl). This is especially enjoyable for me as I undertake my own research project as an Honors in the Major student working on my Honors thesis. I am also an Honors program student and am active within Honors Legal Scholars. Additionally, I enjoy serving on the Student Foundation Board of Trustees to raise money for the university.

Q: Wow, good for you! Can you tell us a little bit about being president of a sorority?

A: Being president of a sorority involves a lot of time management, planning, and communication. I am constantly on my phone speaking with sisters about various Kappa-related things or in meetings. It gets tough sometimes because of the dynamics of relationships it presents. I am challenged to hold my sisters accountable which means being firm and strict when needed, but also to always remain a supportive and loving sister. Above anything else, it’s a huge honor. I never expected to be given this opportunity so I never take it for granted. Every day I experience something new – whether it’s building new relationships with sisters I didn’t normally interact with or just being there for a sister who needs to vent. One of my favorite parts about this role is my ability to directly impact women’s lives in a positive way, big or small. On the larger scale, I work to help my sisters see a bigger picture beyond the doors of our sorority house. It is really important to me to empower women to become involved in our community and make a difference in the world. Being in a sorority is about becoming the best version of oneself on a personal level but it is also about the betterment of our sisterhood as a whole. When of us succeeds, we all succeed. It’s with this mentality and vision that I feel proud to serve as president of my chapter. It’s not easy but it’s all worth it as long as I have left a positive impact.

Q: How do you unwind from all of your schoolwork and other commitments at the end of the day?

A: Laughing. If I go a day without laughing, there’s something seriously wrong! It keeps me sane. I also enjoy connecting with old friends that don’t live here anymore – with sisters that have graduated and with my best friend who goes to another school. It’s always nice to have people to talk to who can keep me grounded and help me step outside of my FSU and Kappa “bubble.” Other than chatting and laughing, I love to dance. Anytime, anywhere – dancing keeps me happy and energetic.

Q: What is your dream job?

A: To be a judge. I’m a dreamer and a planner, so I have this all planned out (or so I think). I see myself as a judge for a juvenile court, after years of experience as a prosecuting attorney. Then, I would like to retire and start a nonprofit organization to benefit inner-city youth.

Q: Is there anything you would like to do before you graduate from FSU?

A: I want to be thrown into Westcott fountain on my birthday. I have a summer birthday so I haven’t gotten to experience that yet, but hopefully I will this summer. I can’t wait!

Amy with Kappa Sisters

Amy with Kappa Sisters

Q: Where do you see yourself after graduation?

A: Hopefully at a great law school! I will be taking the LSAT next month so it all depends on my LSAT score. The goal has been law school since I was in 7th grade. It’s hard to believe that time has already come!

Q: If you can choose anywhere to travel to, where would it be?

A: I would love to go backpacking through Europe with one or two of my closest friends. Italy and Greece are the two countries I have been dying to visit. I am Italian so naturally Italy has always been a desired destination. I love adventures so I would take the opportunity to travel through Europe spontaneously any day!

Q: What does your typical day consist of?

A: That’s a tough one because my days are always so different. I usually wake up after 5 alarms, get ready, and go to class. Then, I’ll have some meetings. There are always meetings. My friends used to tease me that I should start wearing suits to bed just in case I had to wake up for a meeting in the middle of the night. By the time dinner rolls around at the house, I’m outrageously hungry, so I’ll be the first in line. After dinner, I might have another meeting, but if not, I’ll probably want ice cream

Q: Are there any fun facts about you that we should know?

A: I studied abroad in Costa Rica this past summer. I did the Spanish Immersion program with FSU. I lived with a host family (who only spoke Spanish) for 3 weeks and travelled for the 4th week. I still keep in touch with the family and hope to go back and visit!

Q: That’s awesome! If you could provide any advice to incoming freshmen, what would it be?

A: There is no way to prepare for the next four years of college you are about to experience.  Nothing I could tell you would prepare you. You just have to live it. Then, when you’re getting close to graduation like I am, you’ll understand why I say that. You will be challenged and you will be strengthened. Your friends will change, your surroundings will change, and even though you can’t imagine it to ever be possible, you will change as well. It’s a good thing, too. Why? Because you’re not done growing. Time will fly by and you will wonder where it has gone and why it has left so fast. Soak up every single second of your college experience. Appreciate the toughest times because you will come out a better person. You will get knocked down 100 times but you will get back up 101 times. Every time you do, you will meet someone new who will surprise you and be there to lift you. Let them know how important they are to you and never let them go. Most importantly, never lose sight of who you are, what you want, and what you deserve.  Don’t ever become too comfortable. Step outside of your comfort zone and be open to new experiences. College is the time to make mistakes. If you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t learning. “Freshman me” was confident, intrigued, and inspired. But she wasn’t perfect and she absolutely wasn’t prepared. That’s okay because the person I am today has been shaped due to my college experiences, and most importantly by the people I have met and carried with me along the way. That’s what college is all about. Through the good, bad, and the ugly – it’s about the relationships built and the memories that will last forever. Don’t forget to laugh along the way (you’re at FSU which is the BEST school in the world, what’s not to smile about?). College is a rollercoaster of a ride you’ll never want to get off!

Should You Go Greek?

March 2, 2015 in Alive Campus, Campus Life

A common question both prospective and current FSU students may ask themselves is whether or not they want to become a member of Greek life. While I am personally not involved in a sorority, I know several people that are associates of both sororities and fraternities, and are exceptionally passionate about it. However, it is certainly not for everyone, so it’s necessary to know exactly how Greek life works before deciding if this is something that will be beneficial to your college experience.

Greek life at every school differs. At FSU, approximately 18 percent of the student population is involved in Greek life, which equals about 7,000 students. There is a combined total of 55 sororities and fraternities to choose from, most of which have their own houses. While this may not seem like a significant amount, it is actually a key component of FSU. A common question you will always be asked when meeting someone is, “Are you in a sorority/ fraternity?” You will often find several students on campus proudly representing their Greek apparel, no matter which corner you turn. But the students who join these organizations are fully committed to them by choice, as it definitely requires both time and a vast amount of dedication.

One of the positive aspects of joining a sorority is having your meals prepared for you throughout the week. Any sorority member is entitled to eat at the house for lunch and dinner Monday-Friday, which can save both time and money from buying groceries and cooking every night. Sororities are also known for hosting a variety of social events, whether it’s simply for fun or a philanthropic cause. They are the perfect organization for those who are eager to develop a close group of set friends in such an overwhelmingly large university. Generally, the girls will share the same interests and ideals, since they are chosen for their particular sorority based on mutual personalities. They will be alongside you at most occasions- date functions, 21st birthday waltzes, philanthropies such as Dance Marathon and Relay for Life, tailgates, parties, etc. Essentially, they will become your family away from home.

Another aspect, which can be considered both good and bad, is living in the sorority house. Members are by no means required to live in the house, but it’s definitely an effective way to save money and conveniently live across the street from campus. Also, it saves the commute of going to the house for each meal. The downside, however, is that you are unable to have the privacy of your own room; you usually have to room with 2 or 3 other girls, considering about 40 girls live in each house. You are also not allowed to have any male visitors, unless they remain on the first floor, where the kitchen and general living rooms are located.

FSU Kappa Delta House

FSU Kappa Delta House

Fraternities are similar to sororities in a number of ways. They are essentially for college males interested in nightlife, parties, and tailgates. It is, as I stated earlier, definitely the best way to meet a variety of people, gain connections, and hold a sturdy social life. Fraternities and sororities will often get paired up for different types of social events; you will generally see sororities paired with a particular fraternity for tailgates and date functions. While it is possible and quite common to live in the fraternity houses, it can also be a wreck. The houses are exceptionally filthy from all of the parties and pregames. Plus, it’s a bunch of college guys living under roof, so it’s certainly expected to lack anything along the lines of shiny cabinets and polished floors.

It’s important to keep in mind that being part of Greek life requires money, time, and commitment. If you have a stressful, busy schedule, or nightlife isn’t your go-to on the weekends, then Greek life is probably not the organization for you at FSU. It is also very expensive. While it varies for each organization, the fees range from $2,500-$4,000 per semester. If you decide to go Greek for all four years, this can result in an accumulated total of about $32,000. The costs can be a huge hit to your wallet on top of tuition alone, so it is crucial that you are completely set on your decision. PanHellenic Recruitment is a very difficult process as well, which is held the week before classes for sororities and the first few weeks of classes for fraternities. During sorority rush week, each girl is expected to walk from house to  house in the blazing summer sun, wearing heels, dresses, and makeup. Every day, they are interviewed by members to learn about each sorority and its unique aspects that may or may not fit their personality. This alone can be very stressful for girls; about 30 percent are known to drop during the recruitment process.

Lastly, these organizations will always come with specific stereotypes. Sorority girls at FSU are named as partyers and known to wear leggings, tank tops with their Greek letters, and Nike sneakers to class. At the bars, you will find them in high waisted denim shorts, crop tops, and wedges, and always traveling in packs. Guys in fraternities are stereotyped to wear short shorts, paired with a polo shirt and Sperry’s; and again, they are heavy drinkers. But remember, this is just a common judgment and misconception. Members of Greek life are constantly volunteering and partaking in multiple philanthropies for the community. Additionally, they are required to have a minimum GPA, usually around 2.8, in order to remain a member of their organization. So while some stereotypes may be true, such as girls throwing up their sorority sign in every other picture on social media, it is also important to recognize the positives of Greek life members.

Becoming involved in Greek life will demonstrate strong leadership skills, commitment, and time management, which is always a plus for building a solid resume. It is also beneficial for having multiple connections when searching for a job. Joining is not something that you need to decide on your freshman year either; Greek life can be joined anytime throughout your four years of college, usually in the fall semester. But when making this decision, it is crucial to recognize if the pros outweigh the cons, and vice versa. There are countless ways to become involved at FSU, so do not assume that Greek life is the only way to make friends and enhance your resume. FSU offers over 600 student organizations. So explore your options to see what fit is best for you, whether it’s Greek life or simply writing for the on-campus magazine (as do I). The choice is yours.

FSU Pike House

FSU Pike House

Greek: An extension of the patriarchy?

October 19, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life

I want to start this post by explicitly stating that I am a queer rights activist, a feminist, and am personally opposed to the idea of joining a fraternity. In stating that, I wish to make it clear that I do have certain biases against the Greek system due to several stereotypes that I have found to be true at not only my university, but also several universities. However, regardless of my biases, I do have many friends who are associated with the social, professional, and service fraternities and sororities on campus, and that I do not dislike the Greeks—I simply do not feel comfortable in joining one. Having said that, I give my two cents on the complications of Cornell’s Greek party system.

According to an urban legend that circulated—and is, presently, perpetuated by the Cornell student body—sororities are not permitted to throw parties due to the New York State brothel laws. Such laws assert that having a certain number of young women, living under one roof, throwing a party, constitutes the label of “brothel.” Though my research has indicated that such laws are nothing more than myths, Cornell continues to perpetuate this fictional law. As such, only the fraternities on campus are permitted to throw parties.

Victory Club: Greek Edition

Victory Club: Greek Edition

What is so wrong with only allowing fraternities to throw the parties?

To start with, autonomy. By taking away the ability to throw parties in a familiar environment (i.e. sorority houses), members of the Pan-Hellenic society give up some form of protection. They are forced to attend parties where fraternity brothers have absolute control over who enters the house, who receives alcohol, and what kind of alcohol to provide. Taking into account the stereotype that “fraternities rape women,” this power dynamic seems problematic, as men are, literally, given full control over the situation.

What do you mean by “control who enters the house?”

As an extension of the issue that arises when only men are allowed to throw parties, Cornell’s fraternities have a ratio system for guests attempting to enter the party. By this, I mean that men must have a certain number of women in their group in order to enter (this ratio differs from party to party). If a man were to come with only one woman (or none at all) the woman would be able to enter, but not the man. This becomes increasingly problematic with gender-ambiguous guests—should we qualify ze as a male or a female? Should we let zim/zer/them in?

What’s wrong with having a ratio?

Simple: More defenseless women who are given alcohol by the fraternity brothers, less outside men. The implication lies in that very sentence.

Do you get to enter the parties?

As a flamboyant, gay identifying male who performs his sexuality in an incredibly effeminate way, it’s clear that I won’t be attempting to take home any of the female guests. As such, I’m usually allowed into the party without any hassles (and no ratio). Though I had fun at said parties, I still find it problematic that the ratio and male-dominance exists.

Again, I want to reiterate that I am not against Greek members, just the system as a whole. I attend classes with several brilliant-minded Greek members, each of whom I consider to be excellent leaders and intellectual classmates. Being a Greek means being part of a family and having responsibilities. Joining the Greek system opens the doors to several networking opportunities, which is why professional fraternities exist, as well. I would never consider joining the Greek system, simply because I have too many deep-seeded biases against the system, but I definitely wouldn’t stop others from rushing.

My Take on The Redlands Greek System

June 30, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life

As part of a National Greek Music Organization/Fraternity, Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, I should know about how the Greek System works at the University of Redlands. However, our organization is classified as an Honor’s Society instead of part of Greek life, so we don’t follow the same rules that Greek Organizations do here on campus. Instead, I only hear about the behind-the-scenes that happens around campus from my multiple friends in Greek Organizations about how process goes, how parties are planned, and generally how Greek Organizations operate. Here are a few things I’ve learned as an outsider.

Our Greek System consists of local sororities and fraternities as well as many national organizations that are Non-Greek (me included). I won’t pick on any specific ones, as they’re all great, but all bring different things to the table. There are those focused on sustainability, social life, community service, as well as other important tasks on campus. All of these organizations are meant to make a community and an enjoyable time for those students on campus.

In the past year, Greek organizations have gone to an all-time high and an all-time low. School attendance went up, so that means more prospective Greek organization members. Which can be good for record rush numbers, but bad in the sense of more people, more problems. As someone who lived near all the Greek houses, unfortunate things happen on a pretty regular basis. The severity of the situations, I believe, got much worse. You can throw every stereotype you want around the subject; most of it is unfortunately true. There are parties that get out of hand. For instance, one night, near my house, my girlfriend and I were about to walk to her car in the parking lot near my place. We found that most of the cars in that parking lot had rocks thrown into them, including hers. On that same night, our recycling bin was taken. Now, it wasn’t the worst situation to happen, just the one that I was directly involved in. One day in the afternoon, as I was walking back to my house, someone had lit fire to one of the houses on fraternity row and I just had come to witness police and fire department hit the scene. These two things happened in the course of a school year along with many other incidents. Again, unfortunate things happen, but I had learned a lot by living by all of these happenstances.

That being said, this is not to leave a negative light on the organizations. Most of my closest friends have come from the organization I’ve been a part of. I’ve seen countless of my friends in other organizations come out of their shell a little more and truly be happy with the decisions they made. I also feel that most of my more organized and go-getter types of friends come from these organizations, simply because they are always busy and putting time into their respective tasks. All the community service reflects well on the university and I love seeing the trip pictures that organizations go on for their formals or beach clean-ups.

Don’t be sucked in by the negative light of Greek life, but definitely don’t be unrealistic about what goes on with Greek organizations. A lot of good comes out and a lot of bad, as with normal everyday life. Be prepared for the best and the worst. Whatever you put into the organization is what you’re going to get back.

Be a Fashion Icon at Alabama State

June 7, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges, Style

The campus of Alabama State University is full of differing dress styles and fashions. On any given day you could pass a person wearing jeans and a hooded sweater or basketball shorts and a jersey. It keeps you on your toes, and makes it so anything you wear can be considered fashionable.

Anything goes at Alabama State University

Anything goes at Alabama State University


There are a number of different categories and stereotypes that are expressed through clothing at ASU. The first, and possibly most prominent, is the athletic clothing. Worn by athletes and sport fans alike; Heat jerseys and college team shirts flood the classrooms and hallways. Also, due to strenuous practise schedules, the school athletes can often be found in full uniform coming off a late game or session to class. Although the sport clothing tends to be worn more by the guys on campus, the bookstore does stock a large selection of women’s athletic apparel.

Another stereotype are the business majors. Attending class in the College of Business Administration has its perks but it also comes with a strict dress code. Business majors must wear a two-piece suit, with women wearing professional business attire or black skirts. This image the COBA presents with its students is a strong one, and promotes a professional and concentrated environment. Although many classes enforce a dress code whilst giving presentations or speeches, a person in a suit at ASU is almost always a COBA student or professor.

The ‘rapper’ image is also common at ASU. With rap music being a popular choice in the south it is only normal that many students want to emulate their idols. Baggy jeans, gold chains and Nike Jordan’s are on the menu for this style and with a number of different Jordan options matching your colors is key. There are many who take this color and brand matching to a whole new level; socks and laces. Some of the students at ASU will only wear Nike or Polo socks, and will change their lace color to match their shirt.

One final stereotype dress style is that of fraternity and sorority members. Both tend to stick to their society’s colors but do still have a particular fashion. The fraternity dress style is well-known; khaki pants, tank top and a visor hat is the norm. But with sororities the members mostly wear clothing with their Greek letters stamped or embroidered on. This makes it pretty easy to recognize who is a member of a sorority, and which sorority they are a part of.

Clothing and fashion at Alabama State University is much like the rest of the country’s colleges; anything goes. If you want to wear pyjamas to class you can, if you want to wear an M&M brand jacket to lunch you can. During game days almost everyone wears black and gold in support, that’s the only time where you can wear the wrong clothes. The style is whatever you feel most comfortable in, and no matter what that may be you will always have others wearing a similar thing.