As the first day of college looms closer, many incoming freshmen are asking themselves the age-old question, “To rush or not to rush?” Greek life is very appealing to many, with its promise of a ready-made group of friends and a full social calendar, but many perspective Greek life members contemplate the question on how political beliefs might affect the experience. This is certainly valid considering the current political climate and reputation of universities as centers for political discourse, and it possibly something to examine before pledging.
According to a study by the University of Iowa, fraternity and sorority members statistically tend to go into college with more conservative views and remain more conservative throughout, a deviation from the typical view of universities as more liberal. This is due to a combination of tendencies towards a high family income and the closeness of the Greek community, which limits influences that might push them towards a more liberal ideology. However, this varies in intensity from college to college, based on where it is in the country and what kinds of students it generally accepts. However, this does not reflect all of the students in Greek life, so here are five students' experiences on how Greek Life and politics have intersected for them.
1. Anonymous, Sophomore at Lander University:
"Politics has played little to no part in my sorority experience. Coming in, members talked about the fact that our sorority didn't choose or promote either side of the political spectrum. I've never felt uncomfortable expressing my beliefs or political views nor has it ever really come up in conversations. Because of the friendships that you gain by being part of a sorority obviously politics can come up in conversations with people you feel more comfortable with, in the same way they would with friends you have outside of the sorority. Overall my sorority and politics haven't really crossed paths.”
2. Rudo Ellen Kazembe, Sophomore at Lake Forest College:
“I'm a part of Alpha Phi Omega. We have never really had political discussions. We just focus on doing volunteer work for the community. I haven't heard of frats and sororities focusing on a particular political party.”
3. Andrew Balcerzak, Sophomore at Presbyterian College:
“Frankly, politics is one of the last things we talk about. I think that it's something most guys can put in the background because oftentimes it creates unnecessary friction. [My fraternity] in particular is split down the middle. I think everyone feels open to express their opinions because there are at least a few other people that agree with them.”
4. Maya Ungar, Sophomore at University of Arkansas:
“I go to school in the south, so most everyone leans conservative. However, there is an even bigger showing of this in Greek life than in the university as a whole. This is more prevalent in frats than in sororities. I have not had any negative experiences, even though I am a minority in terms of my political beliefs. Oftentimes when I post political things on Instagram or other social media, it is girls from my sorority who make up at least half of the positive comments. ”
5. Blake Tyler, Junior at Western Kentucky University:
“Although, it's not talked about commonly I am aware of individuals in our fraternity who support and promote those on polar opposite sides of the political spectrum. However, they do not show support in the name of the fraternity but rather on their own accord, and do so respectfully of one another and those of differing beliefs.”
As these students show, even if statistics point towards a more conservative Greek system, that should not influence the decision about whether or not to join a fraternity or sorority. Even if you think differently than many in your sorority or fraternity, there will still be people that think like you that you can bond with. And, even with those that think differently, you have things in common that are much more important than your political views. So, when it comes time for rush week this year, do your research, but know that politics should not play much of a role in your decision. Because, in all likelihood, no matter which way you swing on the political spectrum your experience will still be what you make of it.
Lead Image Credit: Natureaddict via Pixabay