Since I arrived on campus last month, I’ve received the distinct impression that fraternities and sororities dominate a majority of social events, clubs, and organizations. I understand that many students enjoy Greek life, and I’m not even sure that it’s not for me, but I do know that it can’t be for everyone.
Over our hectic orientation weekend, freshmen were bombarded with countless statistics and opinions from every organization that could possibly be heard. While most of those figures slipped through the open weave of my weary brain, one trend managed to stick. An overwhelming majority of the students in positions of authority or power on campus (i.e. student government, etc.) seem to be involved in a fraternity or sorority and they are proud of it. Of course I’m not ridiculing their pride. However, this dominance gave the impression that I might have to join a fraternity if I had any hopes of being an involved member of the UM campus.
Most of the upperclassmen I’ve come in contact with through orientation programs have assured me that Greek life is a lot of fun and a great way to make new friends. There also seems to be a consensus that there is “a place for everybody.” I find this a little hard to believe. I’m sure several fraternities’ specialties’ and foci may overlap with some of mine, as well as some of all students, but is there necessarily a place for everyone in Greek life?
In all fairness, several upperclassmen have expressed the more realistic opinion that Greek life might simply not be for you, and that you should take care in choosing a fraternity or sorority if you even decide to rush at all.
Some students may crave the kind of involvement that a Greek organization provides and I’m sure that most of those students will be very happy with their choice. In fact, I doubt many students will have a negative Greek experience because most of those who decide to rush are likely the kinds of people who will enjoy what Greek life has in store for them. Others, however, may choose to test the waters of college life and independence in general and remain unaffiliated for at least a while.
I like to think of myself as a well-rounded person, as most people do, and I don’t know that I’m willing to commit to an organization that may actually limit my experiences to their own specialized spectrum of activities and events.
Matt Dingerdissen can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.