Registration for sorority recruitment is here for some and rapidly approaching for others. Signing up can change the trajectory of a woman’s college experience only slightly, or it can be a choice of momentous impact.
I chose not to participate in recruitment. During my sophomore year as an unaffiliated woman, I navigated the ups and downs that resulted from my decision not to go Greek. Initially, I declined to participate in rush (recruitment), because the prospect of being “chosen” by a group freaked me out, the idea of the week’s demanding schedule exhausted me before it had the chance to commence and I took issue with the principles of exclusivity that the organizations perpetuate. I didn’t know much about Greek life or how it worked, and felt less than compelled to devote time and energy to something I felt iffy about.
As the year went on, at times I was affirmed by my decision to opt out, as my friends regaled the rivalry drama and trudged out to mixers on Tuesday nights. Some Tuesday nights I waved them off and sulked back to my bed, wishing that I was going with them, dressed in whatever crazy attire matched the theme of the evening.
Squads v. Sisterhoods
On campuses where Greek life is prominent, the social pressure to rush can be intense. Especially when a majority of your friends plan to pledge, the looming fear of being left out of the fun is incentive enough for many women to sign up. However, choosing to rush because all of your friends are doing it and you don’t want to be left out does not guarantee that your squad will all get in to a sorority, let alone the same one.
Your friends will still be your friends despite belonging to different sororities or being unaffiliated in general, so make your decision about participating in recruitment according to your individual goals and personal social aptitudes. Amongst my close friends, there was a relatively even split between who was interested in joining a sorority and who was not. The ones who participated all received bids and pledged to a group; the unaffiliated ones continued their lives unaffected by the craze.
Most importantly, I didn’t lose my friends to sororities; the friendship dynamics shifted and going out as a big group to open events became a treat. I was able to attend a few sorority and fraternity events as a guest and was introduced to new people. Because my friends in Greek life were busy with chapter meetings and the like, I had more time to expand my social circle through a campus job and new clubs, too.
There’s an unspoken assumption that Greek life is the center of social life, so without being affiliated you’ll be robbed of virtually all social opportunities on campus and soon after meet a lonely, unsocial doom. While Greek life certainly plays a notable role in social hosting and largely influences post-midnight get-togethers, being affiliated with a sorority is not the only means of social engagement on campus, or, for that matter, with the Greek systems, either.
Greek life groups often host open parties that can be attended regardless of affiliation. Beyond the parties, both fraternities and sororities organize events that encourage student body involvement. A fraternity at my school put together a crawfish boil this spring to fundraise for an organization that promotes sexual assault prevention and support; everyone on campus was welcome, and my friends and I went and had a great time!
Another annual event hosted by a sorority that always draws a diverse crowd involves students on teams entering a moon-ball tournament, the proceeds of which benefit the empowerment of young women. Being unaffiliated doesn’t necessarily equate to being uninvolved! Whether you prefer your weekly sushi club meetings, open Friday night festivities or chilling with your intramural soccer team, opportunities to socialize will not disappear if you choose not to participate in Greek life.
Yet, there are certain soirées meant only for those who are affiliated; mixers happen many a weeknight and cutesy photos surface the next day, along with the stories and memories unique to the fraternity basements and the girls who get to frequent them. It’s a bit tough sometimes to scroll through your feed at breakfast without residual FOMO, or to face the reality that you may have indeed missed out by not giving Greek life a shot in the first place. Yet, generally, by the time Friday night rolls around and everyone is buzzing about the open events, I’ve forgotten all about my mid-week FOMO and am glad that I’m free to go wherever I want with whomever I want!
No Strings Attached
The purest, most blissful feature of being an unaffiliated woman in college is the lack of continuous commitment and the exponential drama decrease. I am free to stay in and watch “Friends” any night of the week (or weekend), no questions asked, no FOMO endured. I also have more control over how much drama I am involved in, as opposed to being automatically inserted into heated situations by being part of a sisterhood.
Pledging to a sorority means pledging to uphold its image and reputation, to be committed to the best interest of the group as a whole and to promoting the Greek life system. This is an awesome responsibility, but it does not come without snags and hiccups. Especially in the charged environments of many universities, everything in Greek life is political. The scrutiny Greek organizations and their members are susceptible to can weigh heavily on them. At a time when I occasionally find it difficult to hold my own life together, adding compulsory allegiance to a sorority would be difficult to manage.
For me, the choice to tailor my year introspectively and individually and not participate in recruitment or Greek life is one I don’t regret. After becoming fully acquainted with my environment as a freshman, my job as a sophomore was to find myself in my new environment. My year was neither grandiose nor jejune, as the college experience is what you make it to be, regardless of Greek affiliation.