First off, welcome back to the returning undergrads. I trust everyone had a good break. As we get back into the thick of it, I’m sure you’ve all seen the tabling on Sproul. There’s a lot of good campus clubs involved in everything you could imagine such as the Cal Climbing Club for aspiring climbers, to ElecTonic and Innovative Entertainment which are electronic music clubs. And then there are the fraternities and sororities which usually break down into social or business oriented. While both Greek systems are great for networking, the environment you will find at them is completely different. Most of the business fraternities are co-ed for example, and since they are rather new in comparison to social fraternities, many do not have a “house” that the members can live in; although I guess this could be seen as good or bad depending on your perspective. I will also go out on a limb and say that the business frats probably help more academically as many of the members take the same classes. Because of this however, they are EXTREMELY competitive to get into and some require an incredible sacrifice of time during the pledge process. I recommend looking into it and seeing if it’s worth it for you.
Then there is the social side of the Greek system. These are the fraternities and sororities most people think of. Many of them have a house near campus that has been handed down over decades from graduated members to newer members. If you want to meet people and build a network for future endeavors, these social fraternities are a great option and many of them do not have as strict requirements as you would think. Now there definitely are the stereotypical party-houses, the exclusive houses, and there are also houses that cater to a specific type of student, such as athletes. But if you visit a handful, I’m sure you will be surprised by the type of people you meet: regular students like yourself.
So what should you do? Well that, is what rush week is for. All this weekend and next week especially is the time to walk over to frat row and check out some of the houses, meet some sisters and brothers, and see what it’s like. Worse case scenario you spend a few hours and decide it’s not for you. Slightly better would be you find a place that has pizza night and spend a few hours and decide it’s not for you, but walk home full! If you’re luckier you may even get a red cup too. But don’t drink if you’re not 21! Better to fill your cup with water and pretend if you have to. Trust me, getting sloshed does NOT increase your chances and it may actually decrease them. If during your search you happen upon a particular group that seems like-minded to you then try and meet as many of them as you can. This helps verify for you that this may be a good fit as well as giving you a better shot at potentially getting in, since more people will have met you.
Ultimately, it comes down to a personal choice whether you go check out the Greek system and what part of it you look into. But I definitely recommend at least looking into it. I remember last semester I checked out some of the social frats on Bancroft. Although I decided against pledging, I met some cool people and had a lot of fun. The time commitment was just too much for me at the time. It’s tough being a transfer student and trying to pledge a frat simply due to the magnitude of our classes. For that reason I didn’t check out any of the business fraternities since it is pretty well known the time commitments are brutal. And of course I have no idea what it’s like to pledge a sorority although I’m sure it’s not too much different. I look at it this way: you’re only here a certain amount of time so you need to maximize what you get out of it and the Greek system is a great way to do that.
In the end, I was lucky to find a group of guys in a similar situation to me: They didn’t have the time nor the energy to deal with an extended time commitment, but wanted the brotherhood element of the fraternity. We have built our numbers and will be re-chartering this semester as a new chapter of the Kappa Sigma (ΚΣ) fraternity which was deactivated a few years ago. I guess if you can’t find a place that fits, just make one!
I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t simply brush off what could potentially be an incredible opportunity based on assumptions you may have. Getting out there and meeting people is the ONLY way you will know for yourself what kind of people are in the Greek system. And this next week is the time to do it!
If you want to explore further you can go here and see what’s on campus: Cal Greeks A quick Google search of any of them will yield valuable information such as size and influence, as well as noteworthy alumni. If you are seriously thinking about this then I would suggest you do a little more digging: ask some friends on campus, check forums and blogs, etc. People have been in your shoes and can give you really solid advice. But always be wary that anything can change. For example, what may be the cool frat this year may die off next year. That’s why it’s important to find the right people to associate with, rather than trying to get into a “cool” house. Because it doesn’t matter how cool the house may be if you don’t like anyone or want to spend time there. And most importantly, BE YOURSELF!!! Do not try and be what you think you need to be, be who you are, and find people who accept you and get along with the real you.
And finally comes the shameless plug. If you are the type who doesn’t wantt to join anything but still wants to meet some cool people and have fun, come hang out with us at Bec’s next Wed the 30th. My music club is having an all-ages event with DJs and such. Great chance to meet some folks with absolutely no commitment.