Brutally Honest: The advantages and disadvantages of Greek life

Denny Patterson, Senior Editor

College can be scary, especially when you don’t know anyone. Away from home and out of your element – it’s a struggle. We all want to feel accepted and make new friends, but how can that be accomplished?

For many, the answer to that is by joining a fraternity or sorority.

“Many schools definitely highlight brotherhood and sisterhood,” Associate Director of the Office of Inclusion and Student Engagement Alicia Gilbert said. Gilbert is also the head of and oversees all of Greek life here at Millikin.

Greek life is a big part of the Millikin community. Informal recruitment is currently taking place and bid day will be Sept. 13. Sorry first years, informal recruitment is only for upperclassmen. You all will receive your chance to rush next semester during formal recruitment.

When I sat down and chatted with Gilbert, I asked her what some of the advantages and disadvantages to Greek life were. She said, “There are plenty of advantages, but one disadvantage is that some people are not fully prepared for the burden of negative stereotypes. They don’t know how to counteract them, and it becomes a burden for new active members.”

Dumb frat boys and slutty sorority girls who do nothing but party on the weekend and sleep with whoever crosses their path is the common misconception. How sad.

One of my friends who wishes to remain anonymous said, “I am a little disappointed though with the stereotypes people typically attribute to members of fraternity and sorority life. It is a lot more than the social aspect, and I feel as if the media has done a lot to contribute to this. I joined because I believe in our mission. Joining Greek life has restored my faith in trusting others, being vulnerable, advocating for beliefs and most importantly, it has helped to me to re-gain faith in myself.”

I agree. There is so much more to Greek life and Millikin makes it known.

“You receive a huge amount of support within your chapter and abroad,” Gilbert said. “You can go from state to state and know that you have a network system. According to researchers, those who are in a fraternity or sorority are more than likely to graduate with a higher GPA. Just here at Millikin alone, Greeks consistently had a higher GPA than those who weren’t involved. It has increased from fall to spring. There’s a huge gain of responsibility, and they are constantly developing. Once graduated, Greeks are more confident in their ability. They can be more attractive to employers due to their skills and experience with personal communication and team building. Being within a chapter is like running a small business.”

I also chatted with many other Greek life members. The majority of them said they never thought about joining when first coming to Millikin because it wasn’t a top concern. But when the opportunity came, they took a chance – and they made it.

When it comes to some of the advantages, top responses include brotherhood/sisterhood, philanthropy, leadership opportunities, breaking out of one’s shell, networking and personal growth. Top disadvantages are finances, stereotypes and time commitment.

Shelbi Baker who is a member of Pi Beta Phi said, “You have to be organized or learn to be organized. We go to so many great events on campus, but you have to have the organizational skills to stay on top of your game. Financel is an issue for some of the girls who don’t stay on top of their payments because late fees in come in. If you don’t make an electricity payment, they turn off your lights. People get upset in the transition to adulthood, but life doesn’t start after college. It starts now. Also, living in a house with 42 girls can seem to be a disadvantage, but I actually love it. Yes, I need my time and space, but having most of my sisters under one roof is comforting to me.”

If you were to ask any brother or sister if going Greek was a good choice, I bet the majority would say it was one of the best decisions they’ve ever made. That’s at least the top response I usually hear

Unfortunately, not everyone who rushes will receive a bid. It’s disappointing, but it’s part of the process. I can be a prime example to this. I rushed twice – both times denied. The first year I was really upset about it, but I was encouraged to try again. When I was denied last year I accepted the fact. I guess Greek life just wasn’t for me. As I think about it now, being in a fraternity would probably kill me. I’m currently at 21 credit hours, a First Year Experience Mentor (FYEM) and Senior Editor of this newspaper – my life is booked.

Seriously though, if you go through recruitment and don’t succeed, try again. Gilbert agrees. “My best advice is to go through recruitment again, and explore the organizations a little further. Some feel like they know what they want or they’re not sure. It also depends on formal vs. informal. Always follow your heart. It’s not for everyone. You just never know. You can always come and talk to me about other organizations as well. There’s always room for growth.”

Lastly, I’m going to touch on hazing. Millikin has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to hazing. There will always be a concern, but it’s not a huge issue. Anyone who is interested in rushing is required to attend a risk management program, and if you receive and accept a bid, you will have to attend an internal risk program training before becoming a fully active member.

Good luck and happy rushing.