BY RACHAEL BLANDAU – STAFF WRITER
As rush week winds down, and sororities and fraternities have finished welcoming their new brothers and sisters, most unaffiliated students are probably breathing a sigh of relief. The decision not to rush is never more keenly felt than during rush week, when Greek friends are absent and festivities are in full swing.
However, through this lonely time, those unaffiliated members may also feel relieved that they are not part of such a chaotic process. Ranging from bitter to apathetic, there are a variety of reasons why Independents decide to stay that way.
In popular movies, Greek life is depicted as the be-all and end-all of college life. At Centre, Greek life may be more service oriented, but considering over half of our campus population is in a Greek organization, rushing may seem like the only guaranteed way to have a social life. However, as most unaffiliated students agree, you don’t have to rush to have a social life and long-lasting friendships. While Greek life may make it easier for you to find those who have a similar mindset, the urge to be independent and have friends, while not being committed to something as all-consuming as Greek life, can be a major draw to remain Independent.
Individuality continues to be one of the main reasons to be unaffiliated.
“I didn’t want to just feel like I was a number,” first-year Hayes Clark said. “I want to be an individual, and forge my own path for success…I didn’t feel very compelled.”
While Greek students are able to maintain their individuality, they tend to also stay within the inclusiveness of their new community, which is understandable but ultimately undesirable for those that do not feel so strongly about maintaining that bond.
While Centre boasts a service-oriented Greek community not built so much on social events, the organizations on our campus are nation-wide, well-known groups. This prompts many students to join because their family has a tradition of being Greek. Without this connection, many do not feel as strongly about the decision to rush, and may even have a bias against it and all of the stereotypes that follow a member when they join.
This stereotype against Greek life places many first-years on the fence, as they have to weigh their personal preference against the benefits of rushing.
“Ultimately why I wanted to rush this year is because it would help my resume,” sophomore Jimmy Anderson said. “There are a lot of companies that will look at your Greek involvement, and you will get ahead if you are affiliated, depending on the place.”
Students here at Centre are intelligent and ambitious, and the possible door- opening opportunities that come with Greek life are extremely tempting. Yet, this ambition also means that you may not have the time to devote to an organization, especially if you want to maintain a scholarship. The meetings, parties, service opportunities, and other time consuming activities within Greek life take time away from studying. Both the costs of time and money loom large over a student as they try to decide whether Greek life is for them.
Many students that are working hard to maintain their scholarship are also unable to pay the hefty membership fees and other costs. Joining an organization alone can be several hundred dollars, and additional costs, like outfits for social functions, are just too much for many to be able to afford. Joining a Greek organization may be making an investment in your future, by opening doors in your future career or making you more desirable for Graduate School, but breaking the bank can be even more detrimental.
The final cause that many Independents state as their reason why they did not rush is how for some, being in an organization is simply against their personality. Yes, some like Hayes worry about their independence, but it is also a major drain to an introvert or a person that struggles in social situations or parties. Rushing for a person that does not enjoy these types of social interactions could be draining and even damaging, as they would try to mold themselves to fit in with their new brothers or sisters. To an introvert, the chaos of rushing and the expectations following would be undoubtedly exhausting.
The good thing about Centre is that students have time to choose their path. Here, students get a semester to talk with Greek members and consider their own beliefs and personalities before taking the plunge. So remember: Rush week doesn’t have to feel like you are missing out on all of the fun. Making the choice to be unaffiliated can be hard, but in the end it may be best to be yourself and sit on the sidelines, rather than forcing yourself into being someone you are not.