To Go Greek or Not to Go Greek. That is the Question.
By Chris Diehl
January 04, 2012
Maybe it was delivered to your mailbox. Maybe you saw it on a poster. Maybe a friend told you about it. You have a choice to make about the upcoming rush event: Should you go Greek?
Deciding to join a fraternity or sorority will have a big impact on your college experience. Even if you’re sure you want to join, the decision about which house to pledge can be equally challenging. Weigh these considerations before you make the leap.
First, the Positives
When fraternities and sororities deliver on the values they espouse, the benefits are many:
- Leadership: Run for office or chair a committee. Greek organizations that are active on their campuses and in their communities have ample opportunities for participation in numerous projects. The interpersonal and organizational skills you acquire can help build your resume.
- Community service: Most fraternities and sororities have community service hours that must be fulfilled. Community service offers an opportunity for you to take part in improving your college campus and the surrounding community.
- Academics: Some fraternities offer access to mentors, academic assistance and tutors. A few larger fraternities also offer scholarships for members.
- Friendship: Ideally, members of fraternities and sororities form an almost familial bond, hence the use of the terms brotherhood and sisterhood. Contact with past alumni or alumnae may result in a career opportunity.
Time and Money
If you go Greek, there will be an additional expense: membership dues. Practically every Greek organization requires dues to cover room and board, administration, and sponsored events. Dues vary significantly, depending on the school. Before you pledge, understand the costs associated with membership and how the money is spent, especially costs associated with housing.
Make sure you’re comfortable with the organization’s expected time commitment. Membership in some fraternities and sororities is essentially a lifestyle that requires daily attention; others may operate more as an extracurricular activity, where you only need to participate once every couple of weeks.
When you rush, ask current members how much time they spend on activities, and how much of it is optional. Some fraternities and sororities have community service commitment goals that must be met, as well as sponsored events that require participation. Becoming an officer or committee head will probably result in a greater commitment of time.
Contemporary culture has done its part to perpetuate the stereotype of fraternity and sorority life. Today, Greek culture reflects the diversity of the student population.
is a sorority that was formed with the intention of “unifying Muslim women and non-Muslim women of all races, cultures and ethnicities” and “to promote positive visibility of Muslim women and Islam in general,” according to its Web site.
is a fraternity for “gay, bisexual and progressive gentlemen,” however their Web site makes clear that “all men, regardless of age, race, socioeconomic background, religion or sexual orientation, are welcome to apply for membership.”
Some fraternities and sororities are challenging the way they are perceived with regard to alcohol. According to the , at least 11 out of 70 national fraternities have banned alcohol in their campus houses. If the alcohol and substance abuse issue is important to you, ask whether the fraternity or sorority has a policy in place to deal with it.
Hazing and substance abuse remain hot-button issues at fraternities and sororities. Organizations and schools are taking steps to curb such negative behavior, but you’ll need to consider these issues when making your decision.
Before you join, understand your school’s hazing policy as well as the policy of the organization you plan to pledge. Then speak privately to other members and to get a sense of what actually happens. It may be difficult to separate rumor from truth, but try to learn what you’re in for before you commit. Speak to some independent upperclassmen to learn the reputations of the different fraternities and sororities.
Finally, there is no rule that says you must pledge your freshman year. If you’re undecided, wait until your sophomore year (or later). Use your freshman year to learn about the organizations, find out about their reputations and get to know their members on your own. Talk to them privately about their experiences. You may find that waiting and getting the lay of the land will help you make a better choice – or it may make you glad that you decided to remain independent.