Believe it or not, life exists outside of Greek life

“Which house are you in?”

“I’m not in one.”

With a grimace and puzzled look, the response is always, “Why?”

If I had a dollar for the amount of times I was questioned for not being in a sorority, I would be going to the University for free. Being a non-Greek member in the nation’s largest Greek campus has left me feeling a little out of the loop. And not because I personally feel that I am missing out, but because other people respond to me in a way that makes it sound like I am missing out. Yet only about a quarter of undergraduates make up Greek life at the University, according to the University Admissions page. So then why are non-Greeks made to feel like the outcasts, when, in fact, they are the majority?

The madness all begins during the first few weeks of school. Campus is flooded with freshmen girls struggling to power-walk in heels, looking like newborn colts walking on their legs for the first time. They’re dressed to the nines with their hair perfectly straightened and flawless makeup as they yearn to impress houses of other girls. Meanwhile I’m strolling along in a T-shirt and shorts, rocking that fresh-out-of-bed look, already feeling the divide.

Because I am embarking on my third year at the University, it means I am finally deemed an upperclassman. Yet I still find that when meeting new students or talking to other members of Greek life, I have to justify why I did not rush freshmen year or why I had no desire to be part of a sorority. It’s as if people find it unbelievable that I consciously decided not to have any part in it. I did not rush, I did not join a house and then later drop — I just plain and simple did not want to join.

And that decision should be OK.

Simply answering “no” to whether I have involvement in Greek life should be a sufficient answer. It should not lead to a game of 20 questions where people need to get down to the nitty-gritty to finally understand why I am not a member of a house.

I am often made to feel like I need to be pitied for not having the experience of being in a sorority. Some people go as far as to say, “Wow, yeah, that’s really strong of you.”

Based on the way some people react to me not being a part of the Greek system, I am starting to think that they assume I live in a hole in the ground. But let me clear the air by saying that yes, I still go out and do things and know how to have fun on campus.

Many people have said that joining a sorority has given them exposure to exclusive opportunities and has brought them a sense of family and sisterhood. However, I argue to say that this is not unique to being part of Greek life. I have made my own friends that I have found at various points in my time here, and they make up my campus family. I was not thrust into a house with a large group of other girls that I was forced to get to know. And by walking through many different doors, I have also had amazing experiences that have allowed me to become a stronger person. But even through my independence, I can’t seem to escape the apparently inevitable interaction I am forced to have with the Greek system.

Despite me or anyone else trying to disassociate with Greek life, the irony is that we are still given a label. Many houses have stereotypes and reputations, and even though some of us have opted out and chosen not to identify with these groups, we are given an identity as a GDI (God Damn Independent), which comes with its own stereotypes. It just goes to show how people seem to have this inherent need to cluster people together.

The point of this all is not to say that I do not approve of Greek life or that it has nothing to offer. The point is that we are part of such a large campus full of amazing resources, and we are all experiencing our time here a little bit differently. And ultimately we should not be letting those differences segregate us because we all have our own reasons as to why we have made the decisions that we made.

Nicki is a junior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]