Why Do I Feel So Left Out?
Published: Friday, October 29, 2010
Updated: Friday, October 29, 2010 14:10
"I am not a part of Greek Life on campus, although many of my friends are members of Greek organizations. However, this has not affected my Colgate experience."
This summer, I was a student illustrator for the Admission Office. During information sessions, I spoke to prospective students and their families about my first-hand experiences as a Colgate student. Undoubtedly, one parent always asked, "Can you tell me about Greek Life at Colgate?" to which I responded with the above statement. This statement, I now realize, is anything but the truth. As a result of my decision not to join a sorority, I feel isolated and left out of a majority of the social opportunities on campus. In my opinion, Greek Life has a tremendous impact on much of the Colgate student body, including those not involved in Greek Life.
I do not harbor negative feelings about individual Greek Life members; if they are pleased with their decision to "go Greek," I am happy for them. Greek Life offers students opportunities to volunteer and meet new people. Despite these seemingly attractive benefits, I do not want to become a member of a Greek organization. My disinterest in joining a sorority stems from the fact that I am involved with several other activities on campus; these leave me no time to commit to another organization. Stated more generally, membership in a Greek organization is just not important to me. However, I question my decisions about Greek Life when rush season begins. Last year, and even more so this year, I feel like I'm missing out on this grand experience that every Colgate student should partake in: meeting and getting to know your fellow brothers/sisters, being invited to exclusive parties and being able to say I belong to an exclusive social organization.
From the outside, I see Greek organizations as being highly exclusive, often times very secretive and unnecessarily dominant in the social realm. Because Greek organizations generally operate exclusively with each other to create social opportunities on campus, such as mixers, many students are left out of relationship-forming social experiences. Students can form friendships through academic classes, but this is rare. And yes, the opportunity to make friends is made possible through extra-curricular clubs and organizations. However, I see the social events created by Greek organizations, solely for Greek members, as a primary way for people to form lasting relationships. People who do not want to become involved in Greek Life feel a sense of estrangement and isolation, although they still desire to form friendships with people in Greek organizations.
This is not to say that non-Greek members cannot form relationships, ranging from friendships to romantic relationships, with Greek members; however, the process of relationship formation becomes exponentially more difficult when all the weekend social opportunities operate almost exclusively within and among Greek organizations. When a majority of your male and female friends are at solely Greek parties between fraternities and sororities, often times you're left alone and bored because they are at the only weekend, night time social venues.
There are solutions to the problems I have outlined above. A starting point would be to ensure that all prospective Colgate students are made aware of the overbearing presence Greek Life has on campus. It has taken me two years to realize how much Greek organizations shape your relationship networks. I am not sure what the direction of Greek Life will be under the leadership of President Herbst, but I hope the faculty and staff of Colgate's Admission Office will become more transparent in presenting to prospective students the impact Greek Life has on even non-Greek students. A second solution may be to increase the number of social opportunities between Greek and non-Greek organizations, such as more parties open to the entire campus or parties between Greek and non-Greek organizations.
I recognize that the grievances I express may only be my "personal beefs" with Greek Life, but I wouldn't be surprised if a surprisingly large number of students held these same grievances. Colgate offers an abundance of academic and extra-curricular opportunities, but none hold so much social weight as Greek organizations.
"I am not a part of Greek Life on campus, although many of my friends are. Greek Life has brought me an unexpected amount of social distress; I wish someone had told me this would happen before I came to Colgate."