Opinion

Greek life provides unique outlet

By Courtney Anderson '15

May 9, 2013

On Monday, the Committee on Greek Recruitment distributed a report that highlighted several proposed changes to the Greek recruitment process. Most notably, the report recommends delaying the rushing and pledging periods by a semester—to first-year spring and sophomore fall respectively. The committee believes that these changes will allow first year students to properly acclimate to life at Hamilton before “making the significant commitment to membership in a Greek Organization.”

While Greek recruitment will only be delayed by a semester under these recommendations, I am deeply concerned about the effects these changes might have on first-years and Greek societies as a whole. As a first-year last year, I felt as if I had “leaned in” as much as possible by participating in Adirondack Adventure, attending various club meetings and reaching out to other first-years in my dorm (South), yet I continued to feel as if I was filling my social life with a plethora of acquaintances rather than true, lifelong friends. I felt uncomfortable going to crowded Annex parties where alcohol was the primary focus and found myself sitting amongst these acquaintances wondering what to do many a weekend night. I began to wonder about transferring and even made an account on  the Common Application website.

This story only began to change whensomeone mentioned the “fun rush events” they had been going to where they met a great group of really nice upperclassmen girls. I tagged along to these rush events and found myself making deeper connections with girls that I would never have run into on campus otherwise. The environment was welcoming and positive, not solely focused on alcohol. I continued going to these rush events, eventually deciding to pledge. Through rushing and pledging I was able to come out of my shell and for the first time at Hamilton, I felt like I was in the right place, surrounded by unique, strong peers that I knew I could depend on for support. In short, I found the best friends that I had been yearning for during most of my first semester on campus.

With both my story and recent first year housing proposals in mind, the recommendations of the Committee on Greek Recruitment deeply concern me. In an environment where first years are both isolated in all first-year dorms and unable to rush during their first semester, I worry that many first-years could potentially be lost in the cracks and unable to find their “niche” on campus. Rushing gives quieter first years an open invitation to expand their social horizons beyond students in their classes and dorms and also to meet others that might share similar interests and attitudes. Delaying such a period will only deepen the feelings of social isolation and discomfort within those groups of first-years that have “focused on academic and athletic achievement” and “explored extracurricular activities,” yet do not quickly find more meaningful friendships within the first few weeks of the semester. Delaying rush will not give first-years  any more time to take part in and explore extracurricular activities because, let’s be honest, every organization on campus is sure to send out emails for their first meeting within the first two weeks of classes whereas under the current framework, rushing does not typically start until the beginning of October.

In conclusion, I feel that the current recommendations not only fail to understand the time period necessary to explore extracurricular activities, but also ignore the valuable social outlet that rushing and pledging provide to first semester first-years. While my story and perspective is only one amongst many, I hope that the administration and the Board of Trustees considers the Committee’s recommendations with an attentive eye, hopefully taking into consideration the student opinions presented in this article.

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