Why Do I Feel So Left Out?

“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.”