My name is Aayush Shrestha, and I am in a fraternity.
A catalogue of negative stereotypes can be derived from that sentence alone. Although it is frustrating that the idea of being in a fraternity comes with a stigma attached to it, I cannot deny that when I first came to college, I too shared a low opinion of the overall Greek system. This negative publicity quite clearly stemmed from how Greek life is portrayed in the media.
But as with most of the over-generalized and biased claims in the media, I was misguided.
Two years ago I pledged a fraternity. I was a nervous freshman who chose to join a fraternity in search of a social identity – I was sold to the tempting idea of belonging somewhere. I joined because the thought of a house full of brothers who metaphorically as well as literally “had my back” was undeniably appealing. I joined because I wanted to break out of my shell and challenge myself.
Who am I kidding? I joined because all my friends did. That seems to be the trend here at Albion. But now that I am on this side of the fence, I can’t imagine going through four years of Albion College without being part of Greek life as a whole.
I guess Greek life, from the outside looking in, is difficult to understand; from the inside looking out, you can never explain it. But the system here at Albion strays away from all the unpleasant mainstream stereotypes that “outsiders” tend to blindly hold on to. Our Greek community isn’t made up of the “frat bros” you learned about in movies like Animal House and Old School. Our sorority girls aren’t like the stuck-up malicious chicks from The House Bunny.
Rather, as expected of a tiny college like Albion, the Greek community is a close-knit population that is composed of roughly half the student body. Here, Greek life acknowledges the importance of academics and therefore demands that students maintain a 2.5 GPA to be able to be a member. Chapters strive to attain the highest overall GPA on campus, and therefore look to recruit intellectual and diligent individuals, rather than your avid party animals.
But college isn’t just about tests and study sessions – more often than not you’ve got to let loose. And, anyone who has spent any time on our campus can confidently tell you that nightlife in Albion is pretty much limited to events organized by the Greek chapters. The fact that bar-hopping is just a cooler term to label that one particular stop at Cascarelli’s shows how restricted the party scene really is. In fact, “frat-hopping” is perhaps a more common theme here at Albion.
There is so much more to do if you are a part of a fraternity or sorority. Basically, you can do everything non-Greeks can do plus much more. Arguably the biggest events on campus, such as Greek Week and Anchor Splash, are held specifically for Greek chapters, and personally I would never think about skipping either one of those. When the campus is dead, the Greeks are still actively involved planning fundraisers and recruitment events.
“In a small campus where activities are limited; Greek life definitely keeps you busy,” said Anne Marie Galus, Saginaw senior.
“If you don’t go Greek, you’ll definitely miss out on so much, simply because a majority of the students are in fraternities and sororities,” she added.
Events aren’t the only thing you’d miss out on. Greek life is an amazing way to interact and make friends through mixers and closed social events week in week out.
“Being in a fraternity has really simplified the process of forming relationships – not just with people on campus, but a number of alumni as well,” said Jeff Irish, Brighton junior.
“I know it’s a small campus, but you still need something to push you out of your comfort zone, and Greek life does exactly that – it forces you to put yourself out there,” Irish explained.
And when you put yourself out there, you are given some amazing opportunities. You get to participate in regional and national leadership conferences where bright minds from Greek systems across the country collaborate. Many Greek organizations offer academic scholarships to their members. Furthermore, you get to connect with successful alumni from various professions, which can potentially help you in your future job search.
Most importantly, when part of a fraternity or sorority, members are given the chance to practice and fail in their endeavors, without losing their network of support.
Kristy Graham, Commerce junior, described having such a support system as a “blessing,” but claimed that it was all the great things she saw sorority girls do in the college community that helped her decide to join a sorority.
“As a first-year, I remember seeing sorority girls everyday. I saw their leadership in classrooms, their poise on campus and heard about all the events they put on to raise awareness for various philanthropies,” Graham said.
As a first-year myself, when I saw the Greeks around campus I was drawn to their togetherness and their spirit. The home football games when those noisy fraternity men are having a blast in the stands, Euphonics concerts where brothers and sisters turn up in large numbers just to cheer you on, early morning classes that you and your brothers take turns going to, themed parties where you and all of your brothers and sisters dress up in ridiculous costumes – all these small details add up to an unbelievable experience.
At Albion, Greeks don’t have a specific demographic. From Bio-Chem majors to football line-backers, you can find everyone living in the same fraternity. We have a unique Greek system where high-school jocks and nerds are thrown into the same mix.
Yes there have been those occasional incidents in other colleges where binge-drinking lead to a near death, or where the line between ritual and hazing was blurred. But here at Albion the fraternities and sororities, along with the college administration, are committed to strictly enforcing anti-hazing policies. Also, it is worth noting that students are equally susceptible to underage and excessive drinking in college regardless of Greek affiliation.
Looking at the bigger picture, the overall fraternity and sorority GPA is higher than the overall collegiate GPA. Nationally, 71 percent of all fraternity and sorority members graduate, while only 50 percent of non-members graduate. Does this mean you have to go Greek to be successful? No. But Greek Life definitely opens up many avenues and provides students with experiences that will better prepare them for the challenges they may face in the future. Letters today, leaders tomorrow.
With spring recruitment right around the corner, I recommend all first-years, as well as non-Greek upperclassmen, at least consider going Greek. The least you may get out of it is 50 brothers or sisters overnight and a memorable college experience.