Op-Ed: Inside Greek life: Is it worth it?

Monday, November 6, 2017 - 1:11pm

Growing up, I always envisioned myself living in a sorority house at whatever college I ended up attending. For some reason, whenever I pictured what I would look like years down the road, happily committed to a university, I was always wearing Greek letters. To me, not going Greek was never an option. It seemed like a path everyone in my life had gone down and one I was willing to take myself.

However, this complementary image of college and Greek social life came crashing down when my older sister fell through the cracks of the system. Nobody decided to stand up for her and say, “She would fit in so well here!” and I was baffled. Rumored romances swirled around her, and unfortunately the Greek community truly values gossip. She is the most upbeat, “Sorority Sally” type of girl I know, so if she couldn’t thrive in the system, could I? Did I even know people who would be willing to stand up for me?

As a result of my sister’s experiences, I went into the recruitment process with fresh eyes. I could try to discern between the performance girls put on during each round and who each girl truly was. After all, I had to be able to feel comfortable living with these people. At the end of the day, I turned out fine and ended up in a house I am extremely happy in. The social aspect is phenomenal, and the philanthropy is an added bonus toward loving sorority life.

However, once it was my turn to rush girls, I caught a glimpse of the side of recruitment I don’t like — the side of recruitment that took my sister down in a tidal wave of judgment. We are expected to know, learn and love or hate girls in the span of 20 — yes, 20 — minutes. Young girls entering the newest, most terrifying period in their lives are supposed to know and understand “unspoken rules” of conversation or socializing in order for houses to want them. No talk about boys, but if you’re comfortable with whom you’re talking to, they’ll look past it. No discussing parties, but if they like you, they’ll let it slide. It’s all so confusing because how would you truly know if a girl likes you or is coercing you to break these barriers through manipulated self-sabotage? Rumors like these constantly make way between nervous potential new members. 

Eighty girls making a decision is a nightmare in and of itself, and, from the first round, cutting girls becomes more and more intense. Relationships are formed once you begin rushing a girl more and more rounds, so a protectiveness tends to occur when someone tries to cut her. Countering opinions flew around the room, and these thoughts were often greeted by subtle jabs. Girls who know this potential new member from home want to keep her, while girls who were rubbed the wrong way by her during a round try cutting her. While I was semi-irritated by the way my house preferred some girls over others, there were horror stories swirling around of other houses electing a single girl to finalize decisions for their entire house.

Though Greek life has made me abundantly happy at school, it taught me more than the regular rules of sisterhood. While the process is meant to be tough and sort girls into houses they would be “more comfortable in,” I learned that second — or even third — chances matter. Sometimes first impressions can be correct, but most of the time, they can be completely misleading.

Greek life taught me to be more open and gave me the opportunity to talk to people I never thought I would. To face the facts, there are tons of negative stereotypes about Greek life circulating through college communities, and, honestly, many of them are true. But it takes special people to move past these stereotypes and make the system their own, create the culture they went through this process searching for. Those are the types of people who thrive in the Greek life community, and those are the people that make being in Greek life worth it.

Tori Boorstein is an LSA sophomore.