Members of a Greek life chapter capture a memorable moment together. Photo courtesy of HendersonStateU.
MADDIE WOOD | OPINION COLUMNIST | firstname.lastname@example.org
No, not the act of sprinting to class because your alarm just so happened to not go off. I’m talking about the act of joining Greek life on campus.
Greek life has a large presence here at Butler, and it is considered to be one of the most participated-in activities on campus. According to Butler itself, about 35-38% of undergraduate students participate in Greek life. As we know, Butler is a small campus, which means 35% of 4,537 undergraduate students is only 1,588. That is quite a lot of people when thinking about a small campus like Butler, and that can feel really daunting to not be a part of that number — especially as a first-year. When you are a first-year student here and don’t know many people other than the first-year friends you’ve become acquainted with, and those first-year friends join recruitment, it can feel a little isolating when you choose to not participate.
Butler does recruitment week a bit differently than other schools in that it occurs at the beginning of the spring semester, whereas most other schools have their recruitment week right at the beginning of the fall semester. Although I understand why it’s held in the spring and how it allows the new members to get to know the houses more, it is sort of unfortunate timing.
I was just feeling concrete and sure of my choice in being here at Butler, feeling like I was happy with my group of friends and our routines, but after everyone joined Greek life, some things have become a little shaken up. We still have our normal traditions in place, but our weekends aren’t always spent together like I grew to become used to, and honestly pretty dependent on. One of my biggest sources of anxiety when coming back for the spring semester was that we wouldn’t have those traditions anymore, and I would have to go back to how I was at the beginning of the fall semester — self-sufficient and alone.
I did not join Greek life for a few different reasons, but I think the biggest is that I have never pictured myself involved in any of it. Even in high school I always thought Greek life was never going to be something I would encounter or engage with in any way; I never really envisioned myself participating in the events and living in a house like everyone else.
Mckenna Modisher, a first-year math secondary education major, also expressed a similar feeling of not picturing herself involved in Greek life.
“In high school, I never saw myself rushing,” Modisher said. “Even [being] here, I still didn’t think I would rush. I never saw myself as that type of person.”
When I got to Butler, one of the first things I heard about, even in orientation, was Greek life. Almost every upperclassman I interacted with said the words “go Greek” and promoted it like no other. Of course, I understand why they did it — they are proud to be a part of such a large and impactful thing like Greek life — but after hearing about it non-stop it felt like it was the only thing to do here.
The act of joining Greek life has become such a large part of what people consider the “college experience” since it is a great way to meet new people and be a part of something big and meaningful. Despite all the great aspects and fun things it can bring, it still is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Cate Pugliese, a first-year sociology and criminology major, noted how highly advertised Greek life is here on campus.
“I think there are definitely other things to do,” Pugliese said. “[But] Greek life is the most advertised and the [easiest] to do. [The] other [activities] you really have to search for and find people that would want to do it with you. With Greek life, you always know it’s a [big] thing.”
Being from a whole different side of the country, it was scary to come here without knowing a soul. I was told from the first day of being on campus that joining Greek life is the best way to meet people and gain friends, but that just did not feel right to me.
I was excited to join clubs and be involved in something that was tailored to my interests, just as I have always imagined what college was like. I’ve had an almost skewed perception of what college life was like from, sometimes overly, watching movies and shows, and seeing people posting their own college experiences on social media. Seeing everyone join a club that seems perfect for them and having a “safe haven” at school where they are free to express their interests and their personalities was exactly what I was excited about in college.
However, when I got a feel for what Butler’s atmosphere was like, I almost felt that Greek life was “all or nothing” here — going Greek is the only way to be truly involved.
I do have quite a few friends who went Greek and are thoroughly enjoying it, but when they have meetings or events or just generally things to do within their houses, I feel like I’m sort of a background character. While they are doing big, important things, like philanthropy and building meaningful connections with their brothers and sisters, I’m doing whatever I can to keep myself busy.
Modisher talked a bit about how she felt isolated during recruitment week while watching the fun everyone was having here on campus over social media while she was still at home.
“I almost felt like I was missing out on what they were doing,” Modisher said. “It seemed like they were all having fun. After seeing and hearing about other people’s experiences rushing, I felt like I could’ve rushed, and [it] seems like something I would’ve wanted to do.”
Admittedly, once in a while, it gets really lonely when I watch my friends have a good time with other people who they are getting to know because they chose to go Greek. I’m very happy for them, but I feel as if I’ll always be stuck in this place of only knowing the people in my major and classes.
Shanti Grossman, a first-year psychology and criminology major, explained how people who do not join Greek life have to find another outlet for finding new people to meet.
“A lot of the time people rush because they want to make friends,” Grossman said. “Being in Greek life makes it so much easier to meet new people because you’re around new people all the time. With Butler being so small, [you aren’t] meeting new people in your classes, especially with your major. You [sort of] have the same people [with you].”
I have been extremely fortunate with finding my friends and making great connections with a plethora of different people. I know we are all secure enough in our friendships with each other that I never have to worry about potentially losing them, but that will not stop the intrusive thoughts from creeping up once in a while.
Watching people have fun while you are not there is a universally understood awful feeling. Watching your only friends on campus have fun at events you can’t even go to if you did so desire is a bit more of a frustrating feeling, though. I recently found out that almost all of my friends have events on my birthday this year — which is not their fault of course — but that doesn’t mean it does not hurt.
I want to be very clear on the fact that I have nothing but admiration for everyone who chooses to or chooses not to join Greek life. Going Greek takes a lot of resilience and commitment, which is something that takes a lot of work no matter who you are. I am really proud of my friends for doing it as well, and I hold nothing but the utmost respect for the Greek life participants.
However, once in a while if you feel so inclined, check in with your non-Greek friends. We are always around, and we are more than likely down to do whatever, whenever. We love you, and we are happy for you — we just miss you, that’s all. Perhaps after a fun night at your house, you can have a relaxing reading night with your unaffiliated friend just to spend time together. I can assure you, we will take whatever time we get with you.
Sincerely, your non-Greek besties.