As a high school student, there are many qualities you may look for in a college: how close is it to home, how much will it cost, does it have a variety of majors, is the food any good. One question many may ask that others don’t even consider is the prevalence of Greek life the campus has. On the many tours I went on, the topic of Greek life was mentioned briefly. I never made my decision whether I liked a college or not based on Greek life, but I do recall some colleges had very physically appealing Greek row housing; what girl doesn’t like pretty?
As many of you might currently be doing, I imagined what college would be like in every possible way. Not only did I create my own imagination of college, I watched many TV shows such as Greek, Gossip Girl and Gilmore Girls. These shows actually somewhat shaped my imagination and idea of what college would bring. These shows can make a high school student somewhat naïve; just based on TV shows I thought college was all about being in a sorority or fraternity and I thought I would do the same. Although it might disappoint some of you, those TV shows are not an accurate representation of college. Don’t be disappointed. College does not parallel those story line-plots, but it is so much more. Being out on your own brings so many opportunities and experiences. But with all these new life events come decisions you must make for yourself. So I ask the question, is being involved in Greek life one of your priorities? Even if the answer is no, I suggest you continue reading because this article is even more pertinent to you.
On the first night out as a college student I met many new and different people. On the same night I heard the term GDI used in a conversation for the first time as well. Shyly, I asked what that meant. The upperclassman girl responded loud and proud, “GOD DAMN INDEPENDENT!!!” Now that you know what GDI stands for, you won’t have to make the freshman move of having to ask. But let me explain in more detail.
Students that are not affiliated with a sorority or fraternity may refer to themselves or each other as GDI’s however the term can be used in a negative way by those that are affiliated. Urban Dictionary proves my point that the term is perceived in many different ways.
My roommate and I are the only two in our group of friends that are not in a sorority and we all use the term jokingly. My roommate and I came into college not sure whether or not we wanted to go through the rush process and become a member of a sorority. We often talked about the pros and cons. My roommate is a very outgoing and social person but she said, “I want to make my own friends, I don’t want to have to be friends with someone just because they are in the same sorority as me”. One of our friends who is in Tri Delta took a different outlook on the social aspect of Greek life, “I want to meet and make connections with as many people as possible, and I believe joining a sorority was the best way to do that”. When it came around time to rush, Greek life was all the talk in the dorm and it seemed as though we couldn’t get away from it. Rush was never publicly advertised but that’s all everyone around campus wanted to talk about. Many conversation starters were questions such as, are you considering rush? What sorority do you want to be in? But we made our own personal decision not to rush independent of what others tried to talk us into. The pressure from others may influence your opinion about whether or not Greek life is for you but do not feel as though you have to be apart of a sorority because everyone else is doing it. I believe Greek life does have many positive reasons to join, such as making connections and being apart of philanthropy that raises money for a good cause such as St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. But as I have watched many of my friends this year that are involved in a sorority, it has reassured me that the positives don’t overwhelmingly out weigh the cons. They were forced to attend a certain number of philanthropic events and keep up with relationships they did not wholeheartedly want to maintain. Join for your own reasons. If you strongly support the philanthropy they are associated with that may be a good personal reason to consider Greek life. Another important thing to consider is if you can manage the time commitment it will take. There are many mandatory meetings and events that are held during the week and weekends. Overall, truly ask yourself, is it for you?
If it is, you can learn more about Greek life here at JMU @ http://info.jmu.edu/fsl/
If Greek life isn’t for you, you aren’t the odd one out here at JMU. Only 10% of the student population is in a sorority or fraternity. Like I mentioned, I am not in a sorority but have many friends that are. When they have sorority events, my roommate and I are the first to know and we often attend to support our friends, and because the events are a good time! Recently, my roommate and I attended Greek Sing, which is a type of big themed dance competition between the sororities and fraternities. I’d say we have the best of both worlds. We get to pick and choose what we want to go to unlike those involved that are required to attend most events. There are however, certain events such as Derby Days, which are only for members of Greek life. Most parties and events though, are open to all, and they are never unwelcoming!
My cousin went to JMU many years ago and had a similar experience. “I loved my time at JMU and met some of my best friends. I lived in the dorms freshman and sophomore year and never felt the need or pressure to join a sorority because I had already found my place on campus.”
I, too, have found my place here at JMU and I am confident when I say I am happy with my decision not to join a sorority. I am not at all against Greek life, I just want all incoming freshman to know it is not the end all be all. College has so much to offer outside of Greek life if it’s not for you! Check out, Get Involved, You’ll Thank Yourself Later. This is a great start to finding out what other clubs and events JMU has to offer.