Rush to the Finish Part 4: Living the Greek Life

When I joined my sorority, I understood that I hadn’t “bought” my friends, nor had I suddenly committed myself to becoming part of one prototype.  At many schools this may not always be the case—stereotypes can exist, but you should still never assume that they apply to everyone in a given chapter.  Even chapters within the same Greek organization sometimes vary by school.

Typically when you accept a bid from a fraternity or sorority, you have officially begun the pledging process (however, some chapters choose not to use the term “pledging,” especially for sororities, and instead just refer to the process as the education of their new members).  You learn about the history of your chapter, the national organization itself, and prepare for your own initiation.

A Few Common Concerns During the Pledging/Educating Process

Hazing:  My school has an anti-hazing policy, as do many universities, and will issue discipline as necessary.  This does not always deter chapters from engaging in such activities, which is why I turned to my recruitment counselors for insight on which chapters would be a better match for me in that regard—just in case.  However, most chapter activities should be all in good fun.  If you feel uncomfortable for any reason, it is all right to say no to doing something.  This is usually a good time to step back and evaluate the chapter you’ve chosen based on how they respect your decisions.

Time Commitment:  It is common to feel overwhelmed when you need to attend new member meetings, events, or other activities in such a small period of time.  Don’t fret!  If you feel you have scheduling issues, talk to your brothers or sisters, especially those in charge of new members, and you can usually work out a way to fit everything in.

Uncertainty:  Again, if you still have reservations on being initiated, I would recommend spending as much time as possible with your new chapter.  See how you fit in at the house, and how easy it is to speak up and simply be yourself.  There is always that period of time when you can pull out with minimal consequences, if any.

Things to Look Forward To

Chapter Meetings:  These are weekly meetings, usually in the evening, where both fraternities and sororities meet as a chapter to touch base and discuss their goals for the week, month, semester, etc.  Events can be announced during this time, elections held, and so on.

Social Events:  Sororities and fraternities frequently hold mixers at a specified location, either at one of the houses or a venue off campus.  If you’re in a sorority, you can get to know members of other fraternities that you mix with, and visa versa.  Date parties, crush parties (where sorority women can bring more than one date to an event and everyone just mingles), fall semi formals, and spring formals are also events to look forward to.

Events on Campus:  During Homecoming week and other events around campus that promote school spirit, Greek organizations will usually have a float in a parade, a table at a fair, or take some other initiative to promote their presence on campus.  This is a great way to establish good relations with other chapters and clubs on your campus.

Philanthropy and Other Community Involvement:  Most chapters, if not all, are partnered with a philanthropy and will volunteer or fundraise for that, as well as for other charities.  Being involved in Greek life can give you the opportunity to volunteer on multiple occasions with your chapter and with other people—this is great if you are already interested in volunteering but unsure of how to get involved with those types of organizations at your school.

Officer Positions:  If you want to have more say in the directions your chapter is steered toward, you can run for general board or executive board positions.  This is an excellent way to become more involved in the sorority itself, get to know how everything is run, and have your ideas working at the forefront.

Just Keep in Mind!

I still remember the most helpful piece of information that was given to me when I went through recruitment:  at every house I went to, I was told that I could be as involved or uninvolved as I wanted (as I mentioned in a previous post).  You don’t have to run for an officer position if you feel like the time commitment is too much.  You don’t have to attend every philanthropic event.  However, try to attend as many events as you can, of all types, simply because they’re fun.  They’re a great way to network, get to know other people on campus, people in your chapter, and people in the greater community.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to make the most of your time in college.  However, joining a Greek organization is only one way to do so, and it is certainly never a requirement.  For me, it ended up being a viable option that I have thoroughly enjoyed.  For you, it may not be so.  But for these reasons, I think anything that sparks your interest – any club, group, sport, class, honor society, etc. – deserves a chance, even if it takes a while for that spark to ignite.

Good luck!

-Jamie Schlansky