Focus on a home, not on a house

By Emma Goodwin

Independents, people who are unaffiliated, non-Greeks, “regular” students, people who rushed and didn’t end up joining a chapter … No matter who you are, if you aren’t a member of the Greek system, this is for you (especially all of you freshmen out there).

The University of Illinois is commonly listed as one of the best colleges for Greek life in the entire country. We are home to over 97 chapters and there are over 7,300 students who are involved in Greek life on campus. And while this is only roughly a quarter of the entire University population, we still have the largest number of Greek community members on any college campus.

It is absolutely crazy how Greek-focused this college is — and the fact that it’s so huge here can definitely seem daunting to students outside of the system.

I joined a sorority my sophomore year on campus, and I have never looked back. Joining a sorority is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and while I’m happy that I’m a part of such a great Greek community, “being Greek” has nothing to do with why I love my sorority.

I love my sorority because of the people I’ve met: my best friends, and (though some of you might have the urge to cringe at the word) my sisters. I can honestly say joining my chapter has made me a better person.

But meeting great people is not something that is unique to the Greek system — there are obviously great people everywhere on campus. I would never try to dissuade someone from going Greek and finding a chapter that fits them, but for any of you who might not have found your perfect fit during recruitment, it is crucial that you understand that under no circumstances is this the end of the world.

Yesterday was Bid Day at the University. For many people, it was a day filled with joy and excitement (and congratulations to you all!). But for some of you others, it was a day you didn’t make it to.

Take, for example, the recruitment numbers from last year: over 1,400 women registered for formal recruitment. However, just under 1,000 ended up joining a sorority. 400 girls ended up dropping recruitment or weren’t offered bids to houses, and the entire process can sadly end up breaking a lot of hearts and causing a lot of tears.

But that number doesn’t include girls who didn’t know about formal recruitment, but following recruitment wished they had rushed; any guys searching for a fraternity that couldn’t find a brotherhood that worked for them; anybody on campus who joined a chapter and dropped after they didn’t feel totally comfortable; anybody who regretfully couldn’t join the Greek system because of finances or a busy schedule.

There are tons of people who might be searching for their group of friends, thinking — because of its size and prowess — the Greek system is the only place to really find it.

That’s not true. The Greek system might be big, but the University is so much bigger. There is a home for everyone here; some people’s home will be in the Greek system, some people’s will not be.

Like I said, I joined my sorority as a sophomore. My whole freshman year consisted of making new friends, just like everyone else’s. The people I met then are just as important to me as the friends I have within the system now. I’ve been on both sides and — even though I absolutely love my sorority — trust me when I say that college is amazing no matter which system you are a part of. It’s specific people that make it special, not always a specific organization.

Don’t let myths (or people) tell you that joining the Greek system is absolutely essential to having fun at the University or the only way you will find lifelong friends.

Throughout the recruitment process, the mantra always seemed to be “everything will work itself out in the end.” When someone doesn’t get asked back to a house they wanted, or when something seems to go wrong, that phrase would always get repeated.

It’s important that you all understand this: Everything *will* work itself out in the end. If you don’t join a chapter, if you don’t find your perfect fit in the Greek system, you might be upset about it, but that just means that your “perfect fit” — the friends you are meant to make for life — are somewhere outside of the Greek system, and that’s OK, too.

Emma is a junior in LAS.

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