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Your lifestyle, your quirk
Joining a sorority or fraternity is something of a ritual in college careers; many students join these organizations in the hopes of gaining friends, a great place to live, a social group they fit into, and other benefits. But is it worth it?
Rushing can be stressful, and if you don’t fit into a certain personality mold, you might not get a “bid” (we’ll talk more about that later) at all. On top of that, there are often scary hazing processes and other negative effects of rushing and going Greek. But on the other hand, sororities and fraternities can provide the great things listed above: friends, a social group, etc.
Before you decided whether or not to rush, read on for more information about rushing, bids, and the pros and cons of Greek life.
“Rush” week generally occurs in the fall. It’s a week full of sorority and fraternity activities designed to place you in the best-fitting Greek organization. There could be any number of activities: skits, speeches, house tours, meet-and-greets, parties, etc. It depends on your university.
The way in which you pledge to a Greek group also differs from college to college, but generally, you go through a week of placement activities; at the end of the week, you find out which sorority wants you to join them. Throughout the activities, you’ll be “cut” from houses that don’t want you at all.
You can start to see how devastating it can be to rush – what if you don’t get picked by the house you love the most? But at the same time, being accepted into a group of people you identify with can provide confidence and a sense of belonging.
I have talked to several people on campus about rushing – some boys, some girls, some who didn’t join a sorority, some who are rushing. I’ve watched my roommate stress out over what clothes she’s going to wear to the events each night, and that is perhaps what struck me the most.
On Tuesday, the day before Rush Week started, I came to the room to find several outfits already hanging up, ready to go. When my roomie got home later, she asked me to watch her try each outfit on and help her decide on what jewelry to wear. It was vital that she dress in a certain way so that the girls in the sorority she wanted to join would accept her.
It was sad to see her stress out about clothing as much as I was stressing out about theater auditions; not that theater is a better activity to be involved in, but what girl should have to obsess over what she’s wearing just to fit in? Even my roommate described the whole process as “bitches at their finest.” Don’t like a girl’s hair? Cut her. Don’t like a girl’s shirt? Cut her. Don’t like the way she talks? Cut her. The whole process can be grueling and extremely hurtful.
Rush Week itself can also be stressful. Hearing chants, visiting houses, feeling pressured to make the right decision in a very short amount of time can be overwhelming! Girls probably feel the pressure more than guys, but it exists for everyone.
The other most obvious case against Greek life that you’re essentially paying to make friends. Going Greek isn’t for those without lots of extra cash; you have to pay up for membership fees, mandatory activities, t-shirts, and other things that the group decides to do at your expense. Many students who don’t join a Greek group are happy to make friends by themselves, for free.
On top of all of that, there are concerns about hazing. At UNA, we have a no-tolerance, no-hazing charter; if there is a report of hazing, the sorority or fraternity loses their charter and isn’t allowed to operate anymore. But of course, Rush Week is still as stressful here as anywhere else, and I’m perfectly aware of the fact that many universities don’t offer this kind of idealism about hazing.
Hazing is a process used to initiate new students into their respective Greek groups, though it can be applied to sports teams and other organizations (“hazing the new guy” being unfortunately typical in our culture). Hazing can be harmful both physically and mentally. Often, you’re forced to go through embarrassing or sexual experiences just so you can be “let in.” Many hazing activities also feature drinking. To learn more about hazing and its dangers, visit Stop Hazing.
But don’t let all of this information scare you! While there are certain risks and stresses attached to sororities, many girls and guys find themselves right at home within Greek organizations, and find multiple benefits by joining.
I have heard many people say that Greek life encouraged them to work hard, make new friends, and get involved on campus. Indeed, many of the students who are involved with student government, leadership organizations, service organizations, and other similar groups belong to a sorority. Many say that their Greek groups have provided great life skills and the confidence needed to become a great leader.
If you want to read more success stories about girls who’ve joined sororities, visit Her Campus. The site also features stories from girls who didn’t want to join sororities at all and explain why they didn’t and why they’re glad they didn’t Rush.
For another take on the Rush debate, visit Blue and White magazine, where two girls talk about their Rush experiences and their opinions on Greek life.
I hope this information helps you to make an informed decision about Rushing and sororities!