To the People Who Did/Did Not Rush this Year

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On October 3rd, an article was published in The Odyssey titled, “To The Girl Who Didn’t Rush This Year”. This article shares the one-sided message that all sorority girls are fake, leading to the conclusion that girl’s who aren’t in Greek life are better than the ones who are. With comments like, “You know the girls I’m talking about, the ones with the blonde hair and perfectly tan skin,” the article shows one woman’s side to a story. I would like to offer a counter opinion.

There is a common phrase – and I hear it all the time – Joining a sorority is just “buying friends.” There is a perception that if you are a part of Greek life, you lead a fake life, pretend to be perfect, hold everyone to superficial standards, party all the time, and the list goes on and on.  For me, the experience of joining a sorority was something beyond what I ever could have expected, and is a choice that was right for me.

Being Greek surely isn’t all flowers and rainbows, and we’re constantly fighting stereotypes (like the ones described in The Odyssey article). When I was a junior in college, my sorority sister and I were struggling in Spanish class together. We wanted to get some help, so we went to our professor’s office hours. We walked in, wearing our jackets which had our sorority letters on them, and our professor rolled her eyes when we told her we needed help. She said we needed to stop partying on the weekends and to focus more on our studies. I remember feeling so offended that my very own professor thought we partied all the time, so I filed a complaint about her. My friend and I sat front row, had tutors, and studied every night, but our professor didn’t think to ask about our study habits; she jumped to conclusions based on her own bias.

There are many different points of view on Greek life. Sure, there are some people who join for the social aspects and, yes, there are parties. However, there are many others who join to build friendships, to help others through philanthropy, to network with alumni, and to live college life to its fullest.

There are four major universities here in San Diego: CSUSM, USD, SDSU, and UCSD. Each school’s system varies based on a number of criteria. CSUSM, for example, has one weekend of sorority recruitment due to its small size, while SDSU has a whole week dedicated to recruiting. Chapter sizes vary too. A small chapter may have 40 people in it, where large chapters have 200. These different dynamics shape each person’s experiences.

As an alumna of a sorority, I have first-hand experience on what it’s like. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s not the picture perfect experience that you see in the movies. You have to get up at 6am to put makeup on for recruitment all weekend, you are held to a high standard when it comes to all forms of social media, and you deal with conflicting personalities. I will also be the first to admit that every school has a different culture around Greek life, and sororities and fraternities from school to school can vary in terms of their superficiality. One school’s “top house” could be in another’s bottom tier. The experiences of any individual sorority member can vary, too.

“Going Greek,” from my perspective, isn’t for everyone. I am no better than my friend that decided not to rush, and she is no better than me. We just chose to have different experiences, and that’s okay. And if there are schools out there where members of the Greek community chastise, judge, belittle, or make anyone feel less than equal for not being a part of a club, then you have every right to feel the way the writer of The Odyssey piece does.

Sarah, a friend unaffiliated with Greek life, told me, “I think the girls in sororities can seem fake but I also think it can be a good way to make friendships and find people with the same interests. It can be a good thing for some people, but personally it wasn’t for me. But I see no problem with people that are a part of that community.”

To address the misconception that we pay for our friends, please know that our monthly “friendship fee” goes towards events and programming like movie nights, beach bonfires, leadership training, and to pay for events to raise money and awareness for amazing causes such as cancer research and domestic violence awareness. Every Greek organization has a cause and purpose. Yes, Greek organizations are fundamentally social, which means there are going to be parties, formals, and mixers. Many times, there will be alcohol involved in such activities. Sometimes one person ruins it for everyone, and that person’s actions contribute to the stereotypes that are attributed to Greek life.

Many of my sorority sisters say going Greek was the best decision they made during their college experience. Our experiences don’t make us better than those who chose not to participate. There are two sides to every story and stereotype. Some students come to college with a network of friends and don’t need Greek life to help build these meaningful relationships. Some people don’t have the extra time it takes to commit to the organization, which is okay. Some people start college without an established group of friends and want to become part of a new social scene, which is also okay. Personally, being in a Greek organization gave me the opportunity to participate in philanthropic events and make an impact in my community. I am a better person because I am a member for life.

While I can understand the writer’s perspective, and if you’re reading this, I’m sorry if you had a bad experience at your school. I wish I could change that. I urge readers not to judge or bash another person for making their own decisions. We’re all free to live the life we want, and to make our own choices, free of judgement.

"When asked, 'How do you write?' I invariably answer, 'one word at a time.'"-Stephen King

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