For more than a quarter of undergraduate students, going Greek is an essential part of the college experience.
The nearly active Greek chapters on campus consist of a number of traditional fraternities and sororities and various culturally-based, pre-professional and interest-based groups, some of which are co-ed.
For freshmen, the Greek recruitment process officially takes place in the Spring semester. For most sororities under the Panhellenic Council, recruitment guides, who are called Rho Gammas, shuttle groups of girls to each sorority where they meet their prospective sisters. For fraternities under the Interfraternity Council, boys are invited to attend catered hangouts.
Official recruitment for freshmen begins in the Spring semester, although for some Greek organizations, upperclassmen may rush in October.
During the spring of 2017, 763 students joined an on-campus sorority or fraternity according to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life.
Recruitment begins with rush, which is where candidates meet the members of various Greek organizations for the first time. Many students choose to rush due to the benefits associated with Greek life, which include housing, opportunities for philanthropy and friendship.
Reflecting on his decision to join a fraternity, College sophomore and member of Pi Kappa Alpha Viruj Menon said he is especially appreciative of the friends he has made.
“My brothers are literally my best friends,” he said. “I know that I can trust them, and they’ll have my back.”
He added that he thinks being in a fraternity can help someone to develop their leadership skills. For some, a fraternity can “provide the right kind of environment to become the best version of you," he said.
Alex Nichols, an Engineering sophomore and a member of Chi Omega, said joining a sorority helped her broaden her social network by introducing her to people outside her usual social circles. She added that she remembers attending the first day of a difficult class and feeling comforted when she saw women wearing her sorority’s apparel, knowing immediately that she had classmates she could bond with.
Welcome back to school! Read our other stories on NSO including a map on where to hit the books once NSO is over and an investigation into what actually happens when students skip mandatory NSO events.
But both Menon and Nichols also acknowledged the less savory aspects of Greek life.
“I think fraternities depend inherently on social hierarchy. It’s not like it’s intentional, it just happens,” Menon said. “Fraternities overemphasize very conventional heteronormative masculinity.”
Nichols said joining a sorority can be “cost-prohibitive," since shopping for rush and going out with sisters can be a financial burden.
“If you don’t have as much money to do all those things, you can feel not as included,” she said.
She also said that being in a sorority is a significant time commitment, especially during the months-long initiation process when new members are expected to attended a plethora of bonding activities.
College sophomore Beatrize Stephen-Pons said she initially participated in the rush process for sororities last spring in hopes of joining making close friends, but ultimately dropped out. She said she wasn't comfortable with the rush process, which entails numerous five-to-fifteen minute conversations with members of various sororities. Stephen-Pons said these conversations felt like “superficial” judgment of personality.
Stephen-Pons also cited the time commitment required to join a sorority.
“[Without Greek life] my schedule is more my own,” she said. “I really enjoy going out, but I like being flexible and living more spontaneously.”
She described the Greek social life as seeming more “regimented,” adding that some of her friends had “itineraries” over some weekends.
Stephen-Pons has found a stronger sense of community from her College House, Kings Court English College House, where she contributes as a program coordinator.
“I like KCECH because I am able to give to a group that I care about, but I don’t feel like I’m restricted. It’s very fluid.”
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