Greek Life: The Pros, The Cons, And What To Know
By: Trevor White
“From the outside looking in you can never understand it. From the inside looking out you can never explain it.”
First, let me say that since I have not gone through sorority recruitment this is going to lean more toward fraternities. However, I do know that sorority recruitment consists of different rounds of meeting sisters with various requirements of dress and a process of “prefing” and dropping organizations based where you feel you fit as a PNM (potential new member).
Now, since I was a recruitment chair for my fraternity I know the fraternity recruitment process inside and out. Formal recruitment takes place once in the fall and once in the spring lasting about a week each time. But you should know recruitment starts as soon as you know where you will be attending college. Chapter members from your high school will reach out to you, they will serve as orientation leaders or serve as things like appolcorp leaders just to make an early impression on PNMs. Members will invite PNMs to their apartments to hang out, invite them to parties, and offer to do things such as work out together or play pick-up sports to become friends with PNMs and increase the chance of them joining their organizations.
Formal recruitment consists of events hosted at houses owned by chapters, third party venues, and occasionally university facilities. These events must be approved by the universities councils and serve as a time for a chapter to interact with PNMs all at once. “Bids” are voted on by the members of organizations, getting a bid is getting an invitation to join that brotherhood.
Now, there are some things you should know and look for when going through recruitment.
- Don’t Suicide Rush: Suicide rushing is when you put all your eggs in one basket and latch on to the first organization you meet a member from. Keep your options open, meet people from all over and find where you are comfortable and where feels natural.
- Learn about the Organization: Ask about the history of the organization. Have they been kicked off campus before? How old are they? (the more alumni the better) Who is their philanthropy through? These are all things you should use to base your final choice to join off of. Also, if members don’t know, ask yourself, do they take their organization and responsibilities seriously? Don’t be afraid to ask the serious questions
- Greek Affiliated Family/Friends: A legacy is someone who’s parent was in the same organization. In some cases, this makes you a candidate for discounts on dues, but at least it is something for people to remember you by. Even if you aren’t a legacy, knowing someone has family who was in Greek life lets the organization know that you know about Greek life and what it entails.
- Rush the People, Not the Letters: Most organizations have stereotypes nationally, a lot of the time they don’t even fit the particular chapter. Make sure you decide based on the people you meet, not what you read on TFM last week.
- Free stuff: Almost every event, especially in formal recruitment, has free stuff. Whether it be a shirt, food, or a cool koozie a college students best friend is free stuff (especially food).
- Find the Important Members: Ask around and find out who is the rush chair(s), president, and other positions. These are the best people to ask questions and also to help you meet other PNMs and members.
- Squad Up: Show up to events with your friends, people from your dorm, or even a current member if you happen to be hanging out before the event. It makes it easier to break the ice and talk to people.
- Interact Outside of Events: If you hang out with members outside of just the rush week events it makes you that much more memorable. Grab lunch, sit in the library together, or go to the gym as workout partners. It’s all good and you get to know who you could soon be brothers or sisters with. Avoid conversations about your major and where you went to high school, those conversations get old.
Here are the pros and cons of joining Greek life.
- The Stigma: As soon as you join a Greek organization a large portion of people place you within a stereotype of Greek affiliated members. All of a sudden if you are a guy in a fraternity you only want to party, hook up with girls, and participate in nothing but what one could call “tomfoolery.” If you are a girl who has joined a sorority you can be labeled as having low standards, your life revolves around being “srat,” and taking cute pics with your sisters. Along with the fact that both fraternity and sorority members are accused of “paying for their friends.” I promise I have never been given a paycheck for being friends with my brothers.
- Dues: Joining a Greek organization is costly, some more than others. Dues are used to pay for venues and transportation for things like date functions, mixers, semi-formals, and formals. Unfortunately, they are a necessary requirement for organizations.
- It is a commitment: Greek organizations take time and effort. Weekly chapter meetings, required study hours, grade criteria, and a variety of required events ranging from service and philanthropy to university hosted informative events.
- Hazing: Greek organizations everywhere, mainly fraternities, are accused of hazing. If you ever feel you’re being hazed or you are ever uncomfortable the first thing you should do is leave. Go where you feel you belong and are comfortable
- The Community: When you join a Greek organization, you have automatically stepped into a community of brothers and sisters that care about you and are there for you no matter what. When you walk into class and see someone wearing Greek lettered shirts you know you already have a friend, someone to get you the notes when you miss class, and a study buddy. But also, the people in your chapter are your best friends, I met many of my best friends who will be a part of my life for a long time through my organization.
- Networking: As soon as you join an organization you are not only inheriting all of the brothers/sisters in the organization currently but you gain access to all the alumni who have come through that Chapter. You’d be surprised how many people who were in Greek organizations will favor someone who was in one also, let alone the same one as them, and you never know… one of those people might be the person interviewing you for a job or internship. I have already gotten one internship through my organization.
- Events: Everything from semi-formals to service events are offered through organizations. Whether it be having fun or gaining service hours for your resume you can find it in Greek life. Along with things like Greek week and Homecoming, two of the most fun weeks of the year for members to interact with other organizations, alumni, and all the other clubs and organizations around the school.
- Leadership Opportunities: Yet another thing to bolster the resume we are all trying to build and make look impressive for our future. Every organization has an assortment of executive and chair positions to gain experience leading through and to put on a resume. In fact, 85% of executives from Fortune 500 companies and 80% of US presidents all have one thing in common, they were in Greek organizations.
- Help: Struggling on an econ topic? Hitting writers block for your freshman English class? I’d say 95% of the time one of your brothers or sisters will have taken any given class you are in and will help you however you need.
Joining Greek life was the best decision I could have made for myself as a freshman and continues to be now. However, it is not for everyone. I encourage you to at least go through recruitment and see what Greek life has to offer for you. You can weigh your options and see how you feel before you decide. Remember what you have read here and be yourself wherever you go, that is the only way to find out where you belong and if you belong.