Changing the stigma of Greek life—one accomplishment at a time

Don’t expect Tim Johnson to look back on his years at RIT and think he wasted the experience. The fourth-year information technology student in the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences has immersed himself in college life—academically and socially.

As a conscientious and career-focused student, Johnson didn’t put much stock in joining the university’s Greek community when arriving on campus in 2002.

“I didn’t come here thinking about being in a fraternity,” he recalls. “I imagined all the stereotypes that you see in the media—partying all hours, wasting time, drinking and getting into trouble. I was pretty closed-minded initially.”

Instead, what Johnson discovered was a community that offered close-knit relationships between its members and an opportunity to balance the demands of a rigorous academic schedule. He joined Phi Delta Theta and quickly took advantage of its social and community-service outlets.

Today, Johnson serves as the fraternity’s president, managing internal operations and its relationship with RIT administrators and Phi Delta Theta’s national office. He cites his top priority as trying to dispel the negative perceptions of Greek life—stereotypes he admittedly once held.

“There was a lot of negative publicity associated with Greek life about five years ago,” reflects Johnson. “There’s been a period of recovery, and things have really been on the upswing over the past three years. The key now is to refocus—make sure that we’re putting effort into making a difference with our philanthropic and community-service events.”

Phi Delta Theta is planning a pair of upcoming fundraisers, including a flag football tournament in February and the fraternity’s annual Pitch-a-Tent event in April. Both activities will support the ALS Foundation.

Johnson’s other activities at RIT included two years as a reporter and editor for Reporter. He also worked as a desktop support technician for Information and Technology Services. Most recently, he spent three quarters on co-op with Insert Key Solutions Inc., a growing Web applications development company near his family’s Philadelphia-area home. Johnson expects to join the company full time after he graduates next spring.

“I totally attribute that to what I’ve learned at RIT,” he says.

Johnson’s academic achievement include Dean’s List and several RIT scholarships—such as the Alumni Legacy Scholarship, which is awarded annually to children, grandchildren or dependents of RIT alumni. His father, Timothy Johnson Sr. ’78 studied photography and graphic arts.

In addition to these accomplishments, people who meet Johnson are often struck by his smile and
the ease with which he interacts with others.

Tim is always willing to assist fellow students and is very helpful to both faculty and lab assistants,” states Ed Holden, assistant professor of information technology. “He demonstrates high intelligence, dedication to his studies and works well with other people.”

For now, Johnson hopes he can use his leadership role to set a positive example for members of his fraternity.

“I’m really focused on keeping the younger guys interested and motivated. If people can do that for themselves and the benefit of the Greek organizations, I know it will pay off.”

RIT News & Events, Nov. 17, 2005