sororities

Going Greek: SU Edition

April 3, 2014 in Campus Life

I never pictured myself being in a sorority; the possibility of joining one was never on my radar. In high school I looked at a sorority as as an annoying group of girls that only cared about their image and partying, not exactly my scene. Not that I don’t like to have fun, but Greek life just didn’t seem like the life for me.

My freshman year of college I came to realize that Greek life was an extremely large part of the social scene at Syracuse, something that was unknown to me when entering school. About 20-25 percent of undergraduate men and women are part of either a fraternity or sorority. My roommate freshman year knew that she wanted to rush and pledge a sorority, so she convinced me to at least try the process out—what did I have to lose? I went in with the idea that if I got a bid from a place that seemed like a good fit, perhaps I’d see how things went. I had absolutely no idea how the process worked; I didn’t even know some of the sororities on campus even existed.

Now as a junior I cannot imagine my college experience without being involved with Greek life on campus. I’m not saying that sorority life has taken over my college years, but it has definitely dominated it in a positive way. I have made friends that will truly last a lifetime, and I am part of a house that I can sincerely call a home. Next year as a senior I will be living in my sorority house, which is something I would have never pictured myself doing years ago. Living with 30 other women under one roof sounds like something only a crazy person would sign up for, but I couldn’t be more excited. Some perks being that we have a chef that cooks delicious meals every week, the house is located conveniently close to both campus and Marshall Street—where all the great food and bars at SU are located, and that it is a beautiful, cozy, clean house to live in. 30 girls might sound overwhelming, but when there is a chef involved it is hard to say no.

The part about Greek organizations that I love the most is that this strong bond is not over when your college career ends. There are many cases where a large reason someone receives a job upon graduation is through Greek organization connections—these connections really do last a lifetime. Tradition is something that is held with high value in the Greek community. Something that is incredible is the activity that our chapter learns and practices are the same that someone else learned 40 years ago. Another thing that is great about being a part of a sorority is that it provides you with the ability to befriend people of all ages throughout college. I can call girls who have graduated some of my best friends. Sororities provide connections for when you graduate, an entire network of women across the country who have a similar bond with you, who you share traditions and secrets with.

I have made my best friends through joining my sorority, but one critique, especially at Syracuse University, is the “separation” of each house. Of course I have friends outside of my sorority, but since I am very involved sometimes it’s hard to make time for friends outside of my immediate social circle. I think this is something we all realize and need to learn to balance, as we grow older and our lives all turn in different directions.  I am very much involved, but I think that it’s really important to remember that Greek life isn’t everything, and that it is important to also become involved with other organizations.

It is frustrating when people immediately put a negative connotation with Greek life. Greek life is a strange bubble of a world that one needs to be a part of in order to understand the way of life that goes on. I am a huge advocate of Greek life, and yes it is true that members of Greek life have the reputation (and often live up to it) for throwing parties and having fun, but there is so much more behind those letters.

 

Animal House

by Devin

A Non-Greek Lifer’s Understanding of Greek Life

March 28, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges

Greek Life

Greek Life

Assumption College is very small private college that does not have an active Greek life scene.  There are no fraternities and no sororities.  And I am okay with that, not because I have a problem with Greek life but because I don’t really care either way if there are frats or sororities; I have never really had an interest in joining a sorority.

I have a lot of friends in sororities and they absolutely love being a part of it.  Yet I am still content not being involved in Greek life.  I barley have time to finish my homework and get to work on time as it is.  Greek life seems like a huge commitment.  There are meetings and philanthropy and fundraising events that need to be attended.  I like being able to have a little bit of free time to myself.  Although, I know it does look good on résumés.

The only experience I have with Greek life comes from the frat parties I have attended at the school down the street from Assumption, Worcester Polytechnic Institute.  Other than that I have never interacted with an actual fraternity or sorority.

And while I have no interest in joining a sorority I have no problem with them.  I do not see Greek life as being any different from the other group or organization on a college campus.  It seems like a helpful way to make friends, boost your résumé, and an excellent way to make connection and network.  It is already close to impossible to find a job after graduation so the more connections you have, the better off you are.  I definitely feel as though I am missing out on a lot of networking connections.  The closer it gets to graduation the less prepared I feel.

Plus, I bet my school would have better parties if we had an active Greek life.

Animal House

Animal House

I have never second guessed coming to a school without Greek life because it was never an important factor in choosing my college.  However I would not mind if I did attend a school with Greek life either.  I know fraternities and sororities often receive a bad reputation for hazing and parting; but those situation happen at the majority of schools whether they have Greek life or not.  I don’t think it is fair to stereotype and generalize an organization like that.  College kids are often reckless and irresponsible.  So when you put a large group of guys or a large group of girls together they are going to make potentially stupid decisions.

I guess all I have to say is that I am completely indifferent to Greek life.  Since I do not have that much experience with it I do not think it is fair for me to place judgment upon an entire organization.

The Greek System (finally told by someone who is actually in Greek Life)

March 21, 2014 in Campus Life

By: Thomas Beaton

An unfortunate blogging trend happening across the internet is that people who have absolutely no idea about Greek Life are writing about it. Several blogs, articles, and other forms of media rely on the bad press of greek organizations, and I mean really bad press. Greek organizations almost seem to have grown adept at creating worst case scenarios for their P.R departments.

The obvious reasons are because hazing does happen within Greek Life. Fraternities and Sororities alike get in trouble for questionable behavior. So why would anyone possibly go Greek? As stated in the title I am a Greek student, so why open with examples of how Greek Life is bad?

Its to prove my overwhelming point: Joining Greek Life was the best decision I have ever and I can proudly stand by that statement. Even with the media flak fraternities and sororities receive on a near-monthly basis. As a non-Greek student/non-Greek person you probably have heard the same old selling points and facts from recruiters. So why join if you, the clairvoyant all-knowing college student, know better than to be affiliated with a gang of hooligans or a clique of stuck-up girls.

You don’t know. You don’t know a single thing about Greek Life. A few articles from Huffington Post, or this garbage website (a poor excuse for satire), is the source of the only information you know about going Greek. Your knowledge of Greek LIfe is mentally equivalent to a five year old with only a Tonka truck to their name.

This is only because non-Greek students don’t do the simplest thing: ask about it. At a recruiting event talk to several of the brothers/sisters of an organization, not just the recruiter. Get a feel of the organization as a whole. Do they value grades, are they a fun group, what is the community service like? Look and see if there are any strict non-hazing by-laws on the national site. There are plenty of organizations that don’t haze. You don’t have to be a member to go on and look at the documents. See what the new member process is like. Rush.

There is a recruiting process called “rush” where events are set up by the Greek Organizations to get interested people to join. It is usually a lot of fun and it doesn’t cost you anything. Here is one of the previous rush schedules from my fraternity. The events are a blast and are stress free. Its to dip your toes into Greek Life. You’ll learn more about Greek Life in one week of rushing than you will from typing in “fraternities” on Google News.

Find a group that you get a good feel for. All it takes is a little research if you want to know the truth about a group. There will be those groups that like to party, and maybe thats what you’re looking for. Others will value community service, winning accolades, and the membership development components of Greek Life. Or others will value a close brotherhood/sisterhood and creating a second family.

If the school is more competitive/elitist in terms of Greek Life, then see if you’re into that. If your school’s Greek Life system is a bit low key, but still offers great opportunities, then (again) see if that is more your speed.

Also see how selective Greek Life is to your campus. At UMass Amherst, we have a growing Greek system, but Greek Life that isn’t the major social outlet like schools in the South or the Midwest.

UMass Greek Life has larger numbers with the sororities than the fraternities, but each organization continues to grow. New organizations colonize every semester or so. There is a reason that the Greek system has been around for so long. The desire for new found brotherhood/sisterhood and professional development will be the pieces that many college students need to complete their undergraduate puzzle.

Just because a couple of bad eggs make themselves into a headline for some debauchery, it doesn’t mean that all organizations are bad or only foster negativity. 

Most (if not all) Greek members feel the same way as myself and will fiercely defend their letters. Anyone outside of fraternities and sororities will never truly know why their members speak so highly of their house. One cannot know 100% until they join. Greek Life also isn’t for everybody as you will want to value other obligations. That is completely fine.

I’m not convincing you to join a fraternity or sorority, I’m convincing you to explore the true depth that Greek Life holds. There is easily a lot more good than bad. Do a little research.

However the stigmas and black flags raised about Greek Life can easily be cleared: all it takes is a little bit of time to know the members and the ideals.

 

 

Conformity in Greek Life

March 12, 2014 in Alive Campus, Campus Life

Recruitment

Recruitment

I am not a member of Greek life at my school. Perhaps this is because I grew up hearing foul stories from my mother about sororities: tales of the superficiality, conformity, and peer pressure. Perhaps it is because I am naturally solitary and independent. In either case, I went into college knowing I wasn’t going to join a sorority and in the three years since I entered Wake Forest, I’ve stuck to that initial decision.

There are many reasons why I didn’t go Greek. I can’t afford the dues nor do I wish to go through Pledge Week. I don’t like the idea of people measuring my worth based on the clothes I wear, how much money my family has, or how well I compare to the people in their organization. Above all, I don’t like how Greek life suppresses individuality, especially individuality that does not fit the pre-established identity of the Greek organization in question.

When you think of the word “sorority” what comes to mind? Ditzy, bikini-clad tan blonds à la Legally Blonde? Rich girls in designer clothes living by the motto “ring before spring”? What about hordes of young college women all dressed in white, reminiscent of purity, waiting to be inducted into a group that is supposed to set them up to experience the best four years of their lives? These are gross stereotypes and I’m sure there are sororities than remain free from such stereotypes, but the vast majority (from my experience) replicate them. I am focusing on sororities because I am female, but fraternities certainly have their own set of conventions I’m sure are just as complicated.

What becomes evident to any person who comes in contact with Greek life (particularly on a campus dominated by it) is the tendency for conformity, which is the part of Greek life I dislike the most.

It’s the pressure to dress, talk, and act like everyone around you. The tendency to “class” people based on what organization they are a part of, or if they are GDI. The tendency to grow comfortable in one’s social circle and to look down on others outside of it. This is an aspect of Greek life so powerful that you don’t need to be a part of it to witness it in action. Particularly for girls, anything is up for grabs, including one’s sex life, weight/body shape, family finances, grades, etc. The intense focus on appearance at Wake in general (that’s to say, both within and outside the Greek system) contributes to this as well. Did I mention every sorority has its own typecast? (the crazy blonds, the smart girls, the rich ones, just to name a few)

And then there’s the familiar feeling: that because I’ve chosen to remain outside this web of competition and judgment I’m somehow less of a person. Because I’m not choosing to play the game of getting into the “top-tier” sorority or trying to work my way into the most elite social circles, I’m naturally not good enough for the people that are a part of those groups. Because if you’re not everything all at once you’re nothing, right? You don’t have to go far to feel it; in class, in the dining halls, at parties, virtually everywhere.

That’s why I’m against Greek life. That’s the reason why I avoided joining a sorority, why I see Greek life as a detrimental aspect to my campus’s culture. It’s not the system alone, but the mentality that goes with it. Sure, sororities and fraternities do philanthropic work on- and off-campus. But so do many non-Greek, inclusive organizations. And furthermore, they create an environment that is for the most part hostile to integration of multiple social groups. They do more to divide us than to unite us, and the effect is a fragmented community.

I don’t have any suggestions, other than to do away with Greek life altogether, which will never happen. It doesn’t matter how many times Greek organizations mess up (we’ve had two frats suspended in the past year due to hazing issues) or how many people are hurt by excessive drinking, sexual assault and hazing. I believe that, because it is a tradition, Greek life will always be around. But what I don’t believe in is an arrangement in which Greek life rules the school. As long as it does, that means I have no choice but to be marginalized for my choices and seen as “other.” Even if I separate myself from it, I have no choice but to be subjected to it. In this respect, I can’t help but resent the Greek system.

Frat-Free University

February 28, 2014 in Admissions, Alive Campus, Campus Life, Colleges

We’ve all seen the movies: Van Wilder, Animal House, Old School, even Monsters University. These movies revolve around images of fraternities and sororities filled with rushes, hazing, competitions, streaking, and tons of beer, bros and babes. But are these real depictions of what college life is actually like? For some, maybe.  There are certainly fraternities and sororities around the country that fulfill this lifestyle. There are also plenty of organizations that focus more on helping out the community and other leadership projects. Some schools, such as my school (Providence College), do not even offer a form of Greek Life.

How you experience your college years is entirely up to you. Whoever you decided to surround yourself with will have a massive impact on who you will become. This is why the decision to join a fraternity/sorority or not is so significant. In my case, even if my school had fraternities and sororities, I would not join one. Here’s why:

Fraternity

One of the biggest aspects of Greek life is undoubtably the house parties.  Many of these parties are themed and can be a total blast. Everyone who’s anyone attends these parties. However, in some cases, there is not always a guarantee that everybody will get an invite. Some fraternities are very picky about who they let in to their houses. At my school, on the other hand, plenty of house parties are held every weekend by the upperclassmen living right off campus. Simply bring five dollars and you will be provided with the essentials: a basement, keg, jungle juice, loud music, beer pong, and certainly some good looking lads and ladies.  It doesn’t matter which major, class or group you are in; you’re invited.

It’s true that once you become a member of a fraternity or sorority, you’re family. But the steps it takes to get there do not seem very family friendly. The rushing and hazing traditions of Greek life are designed to be degrading and humiliating and have even resulted in numerous injuries and deaths. A family is supposed to be warm and welcoming, a group that loves you no matter what. These activities force students to not be their true selves, forcing them well out of their comfort zone to do unthinkable things they would never do on their own.

Without the pressures of sorority and fraternity life at my school, joining different clubs and organizations is easy and stress-free.  I am a member of a few different groups on campus and each group truly does act as a family.  One can freely explore different groups on campus and come and go as they please, whereas in Greek life this is not so simple.  It is also preferable to pay twenty or so dollars for dues rather than the thousands of dollars it costs to join a fraternity or sorority.

Of course you will make long lasting friendships with your fraternity brothers or sorority sisters, but who’s stopping you from doing this on your own? Meeting friends through different activities and clubs that you enjoy seems more natural than being forced upon a group of friends who happened to get accepted to the same frat or sorority house.

Schools with a high Greek life presence seem to have a social scene dominated by fraternity and sorority groups. In my opinion, it is best to skip this popularity contest and just be yourself. College is filled with endless opportunities to explore yourself and your interests.  These years will be some of the greatest years of your life, no matter which route you decide to take. For me, I am very pleased with my decision to remain frat-free.