Editorial Notebooks

Fraternities worth joining

If it bothers you, I’m sorry for knocking on your door to give you a calendar. I’ll be back tomorrow, though.

Fraternity and sorority recruitment season, or rush, formally started this weekend. It will last a few weeks until each organization passes bids to potential new members, and serves primarily as a way for new students to get to know the various greek organizations on campus.

If you’re a freshman, you doubtlessly will have encountered “dorm storming.” Two or three guys from each fraternity run around your residence hall wearing matching shirts, trying to coerce people to leave their rooms for events like cliff jumping or car smashing.

Some people just aren’t interested in rush at all. If you want us to stop knocking at your door, just post a note on the outside and we’ll leave you alone. Before deciding you want nothing to do with us, though, it’s worth giving an event or two a chance.

My freshman year, I pretty much ignored greek life. After all, I didn’t come to college just to party every night. During rush, I took a few calendars from passing greeks, but didn’t look twice at the events listed there. Honestly, I missed out.

Eventually, a friend convinced me to visit his fraternity’s house, “just to hang out.” I ended up having a great conversation with the person who would become my big brother (a mentor-like relationship in greek life) when I pledged the next semester.

Turns out, fraternities aren’t just about bros wearing socks and sandals. (Well, we do have one brother who regularly wears that particular footwear combo, but we still love him.) As clichéd as it may sound, the focus is brotherhood. It’s not like joining a club; choosing a group of people to call “brother” (or “sister”) is a very personal decision. Your only shared interest is each other’s well-being and success.

Going greek has shaped my time at RPI more than any other aspect of college. I live with my brothers and see them every day. We study for exams together, play sports (or video games), teach each other musical instruments, and talk about our days over dinner. If I need advice or someone to talk to, I know every single brother’s door is open.

There’s also this fascinating cultural microcosm where a “generation” only lasts four years (when the seniors graduate), yet the traditions and customs extend back for hundreds. The chapter really does belong to its members, and effecting significant change is very possible.

Of course, joining is a big commitment and a big decision. That’s why rush is important—it gives you a chance to decide whether or not greek life is for you. I didn’t plan on joining a fraternity when I came to RPI, (which is a surprisingly common sentiment among greeks here), but I’m so happy that I ended up where I am.

If any of this resonates with you, even a little bit, just try a rush event or two. Eat the free food and hang out with the brothers or sisters. Maybe you’ll meet some people who just fit—I did.