By Sarah Sagan
My freshman dorm was a hotbed of Greek life rumors. “Did you hear that one house hides a scale under their door mat to see how much prospective members weigh?” “I heard that these sororities judge anyone who is not eating a salad at lunch.” “You have to spend at least $500 on a new recruitment wardrobe.”
I don’t think these rumors are atypical for a school with a strong Greek life environment. While they may not be surprising, such rumors are nonetheless damaging for perceptions of what it means to join a sorority or a fraternity.
Now that I’m a senior, I may not be as wise as I would like think. However, when it comes to Greek life, there is a tip or two I have picked up along the way. There are a lot of misconceptions of Greek life that are either false or overly exaggerated. I think many would agree: it is worthwhile to set the record straight.
So if you’re getting ready for rush week here are a few things to keep in mind:
Throw out all your preconceived notions about Greek Life.
During my freshman year at an undeniably Southern university, my information sources for Greek life was the university rumor mill. We obsessed over rankings, recommendations and legacies. As a Northerner with little exposure to Greek life, the information was overwhelming and, as I later came to find out, totally exaggerated.
Determine if you’re ready for a commitment.
It is important to say that Greek life is not for everyone. Greek life is a time commitment, financial commitment, and the decision to commit to the bonds of sisterhood or brotherhood (yes, that sounds terribly cheesy, but bear with me). However, if you have developed a tight-knit community at your university or if you already are involved on campus, it is valid to wonder if Greek life is needed to further enrich your collegiate experience. Consider your motivations for joining Greek life and whether or not these motivations align with what you want to get out of your college experience.
Don’t choose a house based on rankings.
Rankings also are not everything. Every school with a Greek community has an idea of where each sorority or fraternity stacks up to the others, whether it is published on a college gossip website or simply an accepted hierarchical order that has become engrained in a social psyche. Of course rankings damage Greek unity and create unhealthy competition, but we cannot eliminate such imaginary rankings overnight.
The fact is, you will be spending a lot of time with your new sorority or fraternity. If you do not like the members, external rankings will not change your misery during recruitment rounds or pledging. Sisters and brothers for life, right? Choosing a community of individuals who match your personality, ethics, and interests is the best way to ensure an ideal Greek experience.
Accepting a bid? Go where you can be yourself.
So, if you want to go Greek, how can you be the most successful? By staying true to yourself. Be honest about which houses you feel most comfortable, where you feel the most at ease. A recruitment trick from the year I joined a sorority was to ask yourself the question, “At which Greek house would you be least embarrassed if you spilled a glass of red wine on a brand new white carpet?” Preference card complete.
Sarah Sagan is a senior at Vanderbilt University studying Political Science and History. She is a member of Alpha Chi Omega – Zeta Omicron chapter.
Photo: Murray State<