For anyone as obsessed with Legally Blonde as I am, sorority life was probably as quintessential to the college experience as actually getting a degree. Both my mother and grandmother were affiliated with chapters at their schools and it seemed inevitable that one day I would end up in a house surrounded by a few hundred of my new sisters. As I got older, I started hearing more criticism against Greek life, which has recently hit a nationwide fever pitch in the wake of Timothy Piazza’s death.
For those unfamiliar, Piazza, who was a pledge of the Beta Theta Pi chapter at Penn State, died after enduring an initiation ritual known as "the gauntlet," a form of hazing. Merriam-Webster defines hazing as, “the practice of playing unpleasant tricks on someone or forcing someone to do unpleasant things.” While hazing used to be common practice, it is outlawed by the official rules of many fraternity and sorority houses. In cases like Piazza’s, the scrutiny against Greek life is well-founded, but it shouldn’t negate the good parts of the Greek system.
In fact, there is so much more to Greek life than what the media — both fictional and on news networks — portrays. For anyone on the fence about whether or not to rush, here’s why it could end up being the best part of your college experience.
1. An instant community.
No matter whether there are 40 active members of a chapter or 400, going Greek gives you an immediate community of like-minded individuals. A lot of incoming freshmen worry about how they will start forming friendships in college, and joining a house alleviates some of that anxiety. You have immediate access to a large network of girls or guys who want to be your friend and get to know you. From planned house activities to date parties, your social life will never have looked better. A member of Lambda Chi Alpha at the University of California Santa Barbara says, “While I had close friends in high school, I’ve never felt like I had such a strong support system until I joined my frat. Going Greek gave me the chance to have brothers for life and I don’t know what I would do without them.” Joining a house is one sure-fire way to get plugged into your school fast.
2. Higher grades.
For the most part, being in a sorority or fraternity means that you must maintain a certain GPA to remain a member. While this requirement differs between chapters and schools, it typically means that members do not (and cannot) slack off. You don’t always see a great social life and good grades working together, but now you can have the best of both worlds. At the University of Oklahoma, the Kappa Alpha Theta house has the highest GPA of any group on campus, with rising sophomore member RyLea Vowels saying, “My freshman year I was pushed academically and to better myself by applying for multiple leadership positions. The [Thetas] were my biggest cheerleaders on campus. Deciding to go through formal recruitment was the best decision I made freshman year.” Not only do your sisters or brothers push you like RyLea’s do, but they hold you accountable and ensure that you’re as successful as possible in your new environment.
3. An opportunity to make a difference.
Being a member of a chapter means that you complete community service hours as well as mentor new pledges and underclassmen. Most houses are also involved with national and local philanthropic organizations, which give you an opportunity to impact real change in your house, community and beyond. Hannah Scroggins, a member of Pi Beta Phi at Baylor University, says, "Although college is a time to focus on developing our personal futures, it's easy to lose perspective on the world outside of our 'college bubble.' I am thankful for the community service opportunities that my sorority offers to refocus my mindset on what really matters in life: Helping others." Going Greek will give you opportunities to serve alongside your brothers and sisters and ensures your contributions leave real change.
While I understand why Greek life may not be a good fit for everyone, if you’re debating whether to go through recruitment, it doesn’t hurt to give it a shot. You very well may end up finding a house that turns into a home.
Lead Image Credit: Universal Pictures