Greek Life at UCSB
When you first think about the Greek system at UCSB, admit it: if you’re not in a fraternity or a sorority, you probably have some pretty stereotypical biases pop into your head instantly – maybe the image a drunk, tank-wearing frat bro, or of a bunch of blonde girls wearing pink and twirling their hair while they plan a shopping trip?
It’s important to point out that, while some stereotypes are sometimes accurate, they’re usually not! Greek life is not one of the most prominent institutions on campus, but it does play a large role due to its’ size and events. Whether or not you plan to rush when entering college, you should make sure you evaluate what makes it so appealing, what doesn’t, and how overall rewarding you think the experience could be. Here are some things to consider about Greek life at UCSB:
How involved do you want to be throughout your college career?
Frats and sororities are known for partying and socializing because they are in fact involved with tons of events on campus – weekly socials, regular formals, annual events, and everyday things like fundraisers, Greek community events, or campus outreach programs. If you want to meet and talk to people and be busy, Greek life may be for you! BUT also consider whether or not you want to participate in activities outside of a frat or sorority, too – if you want to work for the newspaper, make an intramural sports team with your friends, and join that cool club you were approached by on campus, you may not be able to fully commit to Greek life. It’s important to remember that once you join a frat or sorority, even if they don’t do many events with other chapters or on campus, they will still expect you to spend a lot of your time with your new brothers or sisters – and even live there at one point! Make sure you are willing and able to commit most of your time to one organization and group of people for four years.
Why do you want to join?
Obviously, people try to enter Greek life for many different reasons. Maybe your parents or older siblings were in it, and have inspired you to try. Or maybe you just want a sure way to meet a lot of new faces and get out there at UCSB. Whatever your reasoning is, evaluate it: are you trying to make new friends? Become involved? Work for philanthropic causes? It could be you just view the Greek system as a great opportunity to network and find connections after leaving college.
If you’re more interested in the stereotypical Greek life portrayals, that’s OK! College is the one place where you can really fool around and experiment with what you like, so if you want to join a sorority so you can meet the cute frat boys, party a lot, or just hang out with lots of people like you who may end up being your closest friends, do it. If all you want is to party, you can do that without being involved with the Greek system (although it is considerably harder to get into frat parties as a guy, it’s true). Think about whether you really want to get yourself into Greek life, and whether or not the benefits will outweigh the rewards.
One really crucial thing, though: don’t get pressured into Greek life! It can be tempting to rush with all the girls or guys in your dorm who you just met, and it’s OK to try it out as a result. But don’t end up joining a house (or choosing a certain one) just because your new roommate is and “it would be super fun” – for all you know, you may not even interact that often because houses are so big! Even family can pressure you – maybe your mom was sorority president, but you aren’t into that. Or maybe your older brothers were all in the same frat and want you to join that one, or none at all. The most important thing to realize is that college is your time – so make your own decisions and make the best of your experience!
What kind of chapter do you want to join?
Like I mentioned above, it can be helpful to really evaluate what you’re looking for out of Greek life. A lot of stereotypes surround fraternities and sororities, but in reality the houses are all different. The chapters vary between schools too, so just because your friend’s Alpha Phi is the most popular house on campus, doesn’t mean that that will be the case at UCSB. If you rush, take the time to write down your impressions of each house and the girls after each visit. Do you want a sorority that’s really involved, or more exclusive with themselves? Do you want to have a lot of events and a hectic schedule, or have fewer events that are mandatory and require more time to pull off? Do you want to just be in a “popular” frat (or some other kind)? Do you want a close-knit house or a house where members come and go as they please? Do you plan on living in the house (most frats and sororities require you to for one year, but you usually aren’t able to for all four)? These are all valuable factors before accepting a house’s offer of membership, so think it over!
Can you afford it?
One thing that helped influence me not to join a sorority was the cost – members pay annual (at UCSB, quarterly) dues that go towards their chapter’s events, activities, materials (like clothing or lanyards), and also towards things that do not always affect you – like paying for the chef who works in the house that you won’t live in for another year. Finances are different for everyone – it may be worth it to you to join Greek life even if it is expensive. Don’t let costs turn you away though – many of the fraternities and sororities at UCSB offer payment plans!
What are your other options?
Personally, joining a sorority is not my thing, but I understand how it can be greatly appealing to a lot of people. So if you’re unsure about Greek life, don’t be afraid to go for it and rush – you can always drop out without joining, or you may find some great new friends and the perfect niche for you! If you’re unsure and would only join a specific house, you can still rush and just wait until you find out which houses want you, and then either drop or join the fun!
Whatever you do at UCSB, you’ll end up meeting people, joining cool groups and participating in new activities, and making memories with a great group of friends – don’t be afraid to get out there and try rushing, but don’t be scared to admit that it’s just not your thing. At UCSB, you’ll have a great time either way!