Better Late than Never

Greek life is historically a part of college culture for many incoming students, especially students attending southern schools. I believe Greek life is naturally so enticing to so many first years because most people do not want to enter a period of four years with the chance that they might not ever know or grow close to anyone there. Sororities at smaller institutions get the privilege of boasting "easier" recruitment processes than the larger SEC or ACC schools, in the sense that they are supposedly not as cutthroat or brutal. Some smaller schools have tried to alleviate the pressure that compels most students to rush their first semester by making all formal recruitment occur in the spring semester of each year, which gives first years the opportunity to meet one another through other outlets before entering the recruitment process.

However, even though I knew I would be attending a small school that mandates formal recruitment to be in the spring, Greek life intimidated me. I feared being a part of a community that I had heard horror stories about from my friends at larger SEC schools like the University of Alabama and Auburn. I also hated the rhetoric that surrounded sorority girls in pop culture—that they are self-involved, materialistic, and fake airheads. A majority of my friends—guys and girls—had attached labels to each of the houses at my school, making it out to seem like each house was exclusively looking for one type of girl, and I did not see myself as any of the types they identified. Additionally, I knew that I personally was struggling with my own identity at this point in my college career because I had just been diagnosed with with a stress fracture in my left femur, which made not only the commute to class incredibly difficult, but it also made me question my worth as an athlete, which was virtually all I had known for the majority of my life. Therefore, going through a process that attempts to match groups of girls based on their shared sets of values felt like a futile process since the idea of what I valued in myself at that moment in time had become so blurred.

For all of those reasons, I did not rush my freshman year. I figured I was better off just staying away from all of those labels that I did not want during a time when I already I did not understand who exactly I aimed to become during my four years. 

Then, as I started my sophomore year, I was slowly realizing that I did not really know a lot of people in my class, especially the girls, which was a situation that stood in stark contrast to my high school experience because I had known almost everyone in my graduating class. Realizing this, along with the fact that I was not as involved with my school as I had expected to be coming into college, I began looking in to the recruitment process to explore whether it would be a good option for me.

I began talking to my friends and teammates who had already gone through the process, those who had accepted bids from houses and those who dropped, and they all agreed that simply going through the process was an incredible way to just meet more people. 

However, this did not change my hesitation based on the negative stereotypes that surrounded sororities and their members. I brought this hesitation up to one of my best friends who rushed as a sophomore, and she gave me the best advice I have received since coming to college: “If you’re worried about having stereotypes attached to you because of your involvement in a certain organization, then break the stereotype; prove them wrong.” And I must say, as a naturally very competitive person, proving people wrong is one of my favorite pastimes. 

Therefore, in January of 2019, I participated in Greek Panhellenic recruitment, and have never been so satisfied with a decision. It has by far been one of the most incredible experiences in my college career. I met countless girls who I am still friends with before even stepping foot in to any of the houses. Plus, rushing as a sophomore actually alleviated most of the fear that I had about Greek life because when I stepped into each house, I recognized so many more faces than I expected to, and I just felt so loved each place I went, which, yes, they're supposed to make you feel loved, but it's still nice to feel welcome in a new place. 

The entire process made me realize that the stereotypes that I was allowing myself to fear were all self-imposed. I had allowed the opinions of a few people (each of whom had never gone through the recruitment process) become attached to these women because I did not know any better. A Greek life experience is exactly what one makes of it. If you go in expecting to be disappointed, then you probably will be. However, I went in with an open mind, and I came out with a new perspective on a whole population of wonderfully empowering women.

My experience was incredible and it is for that reason that I would highly recommend the recruitment process to any woman because simply going through the process, even without accepting a bid from a house, will allow each woman to meet so many more girls than if she had not rushed at all.

I will conclude by sharing my own little nugget of wisdom: each college or university will always spread opinions of what each sorority’s membership is like or try to attach labels to each house as being exclusive to a certain type of PNM; however, by not addressing the fact that each house has its own set of values that they seek to uphold, they are misunderstanding the goal of the Greek community as a whole. It may be true that certain campuses or chapters uphold these values better than others but by enlisting a stereotype to fit an entire national community is simply unfair. Participating in the recruitment process is a very personal decision but potentially a very rewarding one, and my personal experience with the process as a sophomore is something that I would wish upon anyone who chooses to explore Greek life in the future.