On a Tuesday night, dozens of students can be seen crammed into Front Porch coffee house, animatedly talking about God. They all have one thing in common: being a part of Cal Poly’s greek life.
Greek Row is a non-denominational organization created to make a unique community where members of greek life feel welcome and comfortable regardless of their relationship with God.
For biomedical engineering senior Hudson Albert, a member of Greek Row’s leadership team, the goal is to create a space where students can talk about things with one another that typically are not talked about in a regular church setting.
“We all struggle with very similar battles, and having a community where greek life and faith overlap provides a truly incredible space to tackle those battles together,” Albert said.
What really sets Greek Row apart from a traditional church setting is the structure of their gatherings. Rather than listening to a preacher, the organization hosts various speakers, has members share their experiences with God and facilitate various group discussions. In an effort to create a vulnerable and honest community, the members hear personal issues and inspiring stories from other members.
“When we talk about some pretty heavy issues like faith, conviction, and accountability, the conversational feel brings out so much vulnerability,” Albert said. “It’s beautiful.”
Albert recalled a particularly unique speaker, who used mathematical vectors to explain how their properties are similar to how he believes God uses random events and people in our lives to point us in a direction closer to “Him.”
For nutrition senior Kim Tuckness, Greek Row helped her figure out how to navigate college while being in a sorority and having faith.
“It’s one thing to know the 300 other girls in your sorority, but to share this common value of faith amongst a few makes you feel fully known,” Tuckness said. “Greek Row allows relationships to dive deeper and gives space to support and do life with other sorority, fraternity members.”
Currently, the organization has representation from every single Panhellenic sorority and approximately half of the fraternities on campus. Each meeting sees anywhere from 70 to 100 students who join in on these discussions surrounding faith.
“It’s a time I can listen to others around me, learn and understand different walks of life among our community,” Tuckness said. “I think so many people in our society today forget to listen.”
Tuckness recalled the hesitation and nervousness she felt when she first started coming to meetings, followed by the warmth and comfort she felt being squished together with 80 others who embodied a community of constant love and support to her.
“I went to the first meeting and knew this was a special place,” Tuckness said. “Right when you walk in, instantly people want to welcome you and make you feel included into the family they create among Greek Row.”
Tuckness, who has been a part of the Greek Row community since her first year at Cal Poly, has seen it grow immensely with meeting sizes, almost tripling since she first arrived.
“There is a sense of joy that is radiant from the sorority and fraternity members that walk away from the meetings and I think others have picked up on this,” Tuckness said.
In addition to Tuesday night meetings, the members also take part in retreats, social events and philanthropy. In the past, they have held events like a retreat to Lopez Lake, where members spent a weekend near the lake sharing stories about faith.
In an effort to serve the San Luis Obispo community, the group also actively hosts volunteer opportunities to help those in need.
Recently, the group came together to make fleece blankets for local homeless people on Nov. 27. More than 100 members crammed into Front Porch and gathered around tables to tie and cut fleece.
In line with the holiday spirit, volunteers dressed in Christmas sweaters and celebrated with music and food while — working to make as many blankets as possible resulting in a total of 40 blankets to give.
In the past, club members have also partnered with Povertees, a company that aids unemployed women in Los Angeles through the sales of their customizable pocket tees. Greek Row worked with the founders of this company to help sell the tees and raise money for these women.
While the community is structured around a relationship with God, members of the leadership team said they do not expect anyone to be Christian or even have a prior relationship with God to join the organization. The group strives for their community to be not only welcoming, but also the place where “greeks meet God.”
“We try to promote a freedom in belief and acknowledge that each person’s relationship with God is going to look different from the next,” Albert said. “Religion is often such an uncomfortable and touchy subject and by creating the most inclusive and welcoming environment, we’re able to see so much vulnerability and honesty in our Greek Row community.”