Go Greek?

| September 23, 2011

This week has gone by insanely fast. I take that back, this year has been going by insanely fast! I’m baffled that we’re already a month into the school year. I can’t handle this.

That being said, lots of huge things are happening on campus right now. One of the most significant events is fall fraternity rush. At American, freshmen aren’t allowed to go out for Recruitment until the spring. But upperclassmen who haven’t experienced Greek life can rush in the fall.

With all the talk of rushing, bid parties and hazing going around, I figured I’d take this blogging opportunity to discuss the advantages of going Greek or remaining unaffiliated. Mind you, I’m slightly biased because I happen to be affiliated with a sorority that I love obnoxiously and will defend to the death (figuratively). But I still have lots of friends who never went out for recruitment and are perfectly content.

Philanthropy

Greek life catches a lot of criticism for supposedly being all about drinking and partying and – we’ve heard it a thousand times – “paying for our friends.”  None of us joined for any of those reasons – at least the girls didn’t. I joined a sorority to have a tight-knit group of friends who have similar interests but are all individually unique. We do lots of things together. We explore DC, we go to sporting events and we do rewarding things like supporting our philanthropy.

Each sorority and fraternity has its own cause. We plan huge fundraisers, participate in walks and perform hands-on service supporting our foundation. I’m currently in the middle of helping plan my organization’s biggest event of the year. A huge portion of the student body will participate and donate, making all the stress of planning very rewarding.

If I weren’t affiliated with my sorority, I would probably be less inclined to do community service by myself and on my own time. It’s sad, but true, and I know a lot of people who hold the same feeling. We have a specific number of service hours that we must complete each semester. It’s a requirement, but – let’s face it – it’s not the worst requirement in the world.

Greek Alphabet courtesy of greek.iastate.edu

Greek Alphabet courtesy of greek.iastate.edu

 

Sisters Have Your Back

My first semester freshman year was awesome. I found a very small group of friends with whom I went to meals, parties and the library. However, I didn’t feel that special bond I was looking for. Sometimes I wondered if I was just friends with these people because I didn’t know anyone else. It wasn’t true – we really did have great friendships – but I was curious to see what else (or who else) was out there. When I got my bid and started getting to know my pledge sisters, I felt like we all had some sort of unspoken bond. Sure, it was a little awkward being thrown into friendships with these girls you’ve just met, but less than a year later, I honestly do feel like we’re actual sisters. Every girl has her own role within the group, distinct personality and interests she wants to share. Yes, we get in little tiffs every once in a while, but when it comes down to it – just as I am with my little brother – we’ve got each other’s backs.

Parties

I won’t try to deceive you: part of being in Greek life means that you’re invited to more social events than you might be otherwise. It’s nice to go to a social event and have all your sisters around you. I’ve never experienced pressure to drink and my sisters will always respect my decisions and give me advice when I need it in situations involving alcohol. It’s a touchy subject because – I’ll admit – there are a lot of rules when it comes to drinking and talking about drinking, so I’ll just leave it there.

Courtesy of American University

Courtesy of American University

Remaining Unaffiliated

My school is 18% Greek life. On a campus of about 7,000 undergrads that number may seem huge or completely insignificant. Honestly, I chose American because I thought that number was very small and pictured Greek life as something I wanted absolutely nothing to do with. But in the winter, I was just looking for something more. I went out for Recruitment with the mindset that I’d try it out and if I felt uncomfortable, I’d quit. None of my close friends rushed with me but when they realized how excited I was after each round, they completely supported me. My friends helped me choose my outfits each day, Facebook stalked each organization with me and were just as excited as I was when I got my bid.

I’ll admit, as the semester progressed and I got more into my New Member process, my unaffiliated friends and I did drift apart. But we both knew we had different things going on and that we were still very good friends. We’d go out of our way to make time for each other and I currently live with my best friend from first semester, who is not in Greek life.

At some schools, Greek life is everything. But when you go to a school like American, where there is so much to get involved in, not being in a sorority or fraternity is by no means the end of the world. I know people in clubs like the student newspaper or student Democrats or Republicans that seem like they might as well be in fraternity, based on their close friendships. So don’t think that your social life will be affected negatively in any way if you don’t rush or don’t get a bid. I know it’s totally cliché, but really – College is what you make of it and attitude is everything.

Recruitment Poster courtesy of greeklife.tamucc.edu

Recruitment Poster courtesy of greeklife.tamucc.edu

Category: College Confab

About the Author (Author Profile)

Samantha Stratton

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