Give Greek life a second glance

Amanda Irons
Amanda Irons

My freshman year I lived in Whitney Hall on the sixth floor, the all-girls floor. When rush week rolled around in the spring, it seemed like everyone was brimming with excitement. That is, everyone except my roommate, me, and maybe three other girls who decided not to partake in the rush process.

The entire week the sixth floor was madness. It was a constant hurricane of young women wandering from room to room to ensure that her outfit looked perfect for that day’s activities.

Every night, the tired, humbled masses would return, exhausted from walking yet oddly delighted by the day’s events. With each passing day, one or two girls would either get cut or withdraw themselves from the process.

At the end of the week, when bids were given, the women I’d grown to know and love were finally settled in with a sorority that fit them perfectly.

Throughout the semester it seemed that everyone was walking around in letters, boasting about their bid and just generally being jazzed about finally being a part of that sisterhood they’d always dreamt of.

And I still did not understand why people would join Greek life.greek

It’s this resentment for Greek life that had me hesitant to rush my freshman and sophomore year. I love the girls on my floor who rushed, but I never viewed it as something I’d pursue, partially because of the preconceived stigma that accompanies Greek life, and partially because I never viewed myself as someone who would enjoy spending time with a hundred “sisters” week in and week out.

But this fall I decided to try my hand at Greek life. Honestly, my rushing was nearly a fluke. My friend invited me to an information meeting where they had free food. I figured there was not much for me to lose. As my pledge process wound to an end, I think I finally started to understand why people are attracted to this lifestyle.

From what I’ve gathered from the Greek community, it seems that they all use the same words to explain what it so attractive about being Greek.

It starts with getting involved in events that you never otherwise would have cared to involve yourself in. It’s a philanthropic fundraising walk for the Butte Humane Society on a Saturday morning that you normally would  have spent sleeping in. It’s helping a needy family buy Christmas presents, a cause that otherwise would have slipped your mind.

It’s the concept of unselfishly giving back that changes the way people view themselves and what they are capable of doing. It’s a drive to stay involved and the desire to make a positive impact. It’s an initiative to be successful, as one Greek phrased it. It forces you to care about your grades, other people and how you spend your own time.

Greek life introduces you to people you would have never met otherwise. Each fraternity, whether it’s honors, professional, multicultural or social, connects you with a group of people who share a similar passion. Each chapter has its own character. When you find a chapter that coincides with your character, it introduces you to a plethora of new friends that you eventually claim as your brothers or sisters. It’s more than networking, it’s a family of friends that you want to see succeed and who will support you in your own endeavors.

Greek life is like a sports team. As the Greeks I’ve spoken to say, when you put on your letters you’re representing the organization as a whole, something bigger then yourself. You are proud of your letters because you’ve earned them. You’ve jumped through all the hoops and proven yourself worthy to be on the team. Before, I viewed the entire rush process as an egotistical obstacle course put on by a bunch of try-hards who like to watch people sweat.

For those of you who are convinced that the Greek system is a judgmental degrading experience, I can understand why you make that connection. I made that assumption myself. However, superficial judgments don’t capture the deeper value of Greek life. You can claim that the process is this or that, but until you rush and find the fraternity that is right for you, you cannot fully understand its impact.

The most overwhelming response I have received from the Greeks is that it’s the best time of their lives. I would hate to see someone miss out on that sort of passion because of preconceived ideas of what they think Greek life is built up to be.

So attend information nights. Talk to the Greeks you know. When you find the chapter that is right for you, you will wish that you’d rushed sooner.

 

Amanda Irons can be reached at [email protected] or @amanda_irons on Twitter.

Illustration by Liz Coffee.