I remember spending hours watching “Rush Week” videos on YouTube and stalking sororities’ Instagrams. The pictures of smiley girls hugging each other while doing greek letters with their hands flooded my mind. Wow! To go to college and have an entire group of girls call you “sister.” The whole Greek Life experience just seemed perfect. Way too perfect. Way too perfect to be true.
Around June, the American University community witnessed a wave of sexual misconduct scandals finally coming to light with the majority of male abusers being fraternity members. That was the moment when I realized that there were more to sororities and fraternities than Greek symbols and gift bags. I looked back on sororities’ Instagrams, not from an enthusiastic angle, but a skeptical one. All the smiley faces were white smiley faces. After researching some more, and understanding how Greek Life thrives in a system of social and racial inequality and perpetuates rape culture, I decided not to rush a sorority.
To be completely honest, I felt kind of lost. What now? How am I going to find the so-called “sisters” promised to me on sororities’ websites? Luckily for me, Greek Life is not the only way we get to make connections on campus.
After posting a tag on my Instagram– “Fun orgs/clubs you are a member of”– I was happy to find out that AU has a vast array of communities which students can join in order to make connections and feel that sense of belonging, while helping others and having fun.
Here are five organizations that you can join instead of Greek Life:
- DC Reads
DC Reads is an organization that provides tutors for DC public schools. Diana Gertsenshteyn, a volunteer for DC Reads, had the chance to work with local elementary school students at the Reading Partners site. She conducts virtual tutoring sessions which help students become more active, fluent readers and communicators. Diana adds that witnessing her students improve is extremely fulfilling and that she loves being a volunteer.
- Days for Girls
Days for Girls works on ending the stigma around menstruation, as well as spreading awareness about period poverty. Isabella Brooke is part of this organization and she mentioned that, when in person, the members spend time together sewing pads for people who do not have access to menstrual products. Days for Girls also creates a safe space to share period stories and bond with other girls. They even had an OBGYN come and talk to them about the female body! Isabella adds that “It is so freeing to talk about periods in a way that is not considered ‘gross’ because they are not gross.”
- The Cheese Club
If you love cheese, this is your community! Founded in 2018 by Justin Horowitz, The Cheese Club is dedicated to exploring the world of cheese. Member Ethan Pucc adds that the club hosts meetings where the students get to play games, meet new people and, most importantly, eat cheese! The Cheese Club is also funded by the AU Club Council, which provides money for an endless supply of cheese.
- American University Meditation
AU Meditation helps members find focus within themselves and strengthen positive relationships between students. According to Janae Torres, public relations officer for AUMC, their main goal is to “provide a service that gives relief, advice, and a safe space to discover mindfulness and peace.” Currently, the club holds daily meditations and is planning on hosting events on methods to de-stress, do yoga and play games.
Lola Macy, member of Visible, explained that this organization provides a magazine-like platform where Queer students can share their experiences as part of the LBGTQ+ community. Members produce content of different forms, from writing pieces including articles and blog posts, to visual art such as photographs, and audio pieces like podcasts. For example, Lola participated on a podcast entitled “Stonewalled” which introduced key moments of Queer history. Visible is not limited to members of the LGBTQ+ community, as allies are welcome to join.
It is crucial to constantly remind ourselves that students should not only condemn a system which perpetuates racism and misogyny, but also the institutions– fraternities and sororities– which prosper in this environment. And if you did join Greek Life, be aware of its issues and do the best you can to fight them from within. Fraternities and sororities should never be viewed as the one and only option for students to bond and network. DC Reads, Days for Girls, The Cheese Club, AU Meditation and Visible are only five of 150 clubs American University has to offer. In other words, you have 150 chances to find your people! From tutoring DC kids to learning more about cheese, AU has it all.
Photos: Her Campus Media