Written by Bradley Bommarito
The beginning of each semester marks an important time period for a subset of the RC student body. This is the time of year that some students consider getting involved in Greek life. According to the RC website, our school is home to four sororities that currently consist of about 227 members and five men’s fraternities that currently consist of about 182 members. In total, Greek life members comprise about a quarter of the student body. Chances are you know quite a few Maroons who are members of a Greek organization, or you have at least had exposure to this aspect of college life through these organization’s parties and outreach activities.
“My first taste of Greek life was at a one of those overcrowded parties that characterize the beginning of the year when nobody really knows each other yet but the alcohol makes friends of strangers. Those were fun, but I didn’t think it would be worth the hassle to actually join any of the fraternities. I couldn’t see any tangible benefits beyond some cheap entertainment. This changed when I learned that three guys I looked up to were all in the same fraternity. I talked with them and those dialogues changed my perspective. I learned about all of the facets of the experience, not just the most visible ones. This is what initiated my interest,” said senior Johnson Mihaly, a member of Pi Lambda Phi’s RC chapter.
Students who are interested in potentially “rushing” a fraternity or sorority typically inform themselves of the available options by talking to current members of Greek organizations and visiting Greek housing to get to acquainted with the organization and its members. In most cases an interested student reaches out to a Greek friend or classmate, but browsing the activities fair and attending round robin events and interest meetings are other opportunities for becoming more familiarized with the Greek organizations at RC. Freshman must wait to rush until their second semester, but all other students can rush at the beginning of any semester throughout their RC career. Fraternities normally host “smoker” events during which potentials can smoke cigars while mingling with current members, and sororities have a more centralized and formalized recruitment process that involves attending a variety of interactive events over the course of a given week.
“I am a new member of a sorority on campus. I rushed over winter break and found my home in Chi Omega. I would encourage anyone to consider rushing and finding their home away from home! All of the sororities on campus are full of amazing girls. I have friends in every sorority on campus that have all had amazing experiences in their girl groups,” said freshman Elizabeth Werner.
The best way to find out if Greek life is right for you is simply to talk to a variety of people who have had their own unique experiences with their respective organizations. One should be aware that some organizations may try to present only their preferred image, but it’s possible to mitigate this risk by talking to different people and doing a little research on each organization.
“The number one thing for anyone interested in rushing is to ask the question: who would I most want to call my brothers? With that answer, go ahead and talk to those people, go to their events, and get to know the vibe of the place. After that, you should have a pretty good idea if it is right for you. If you don’t, then rinse, wash, repeat I guess?” said Mihaly.
Involvement in Greek life has drawbacks and benefits, just like any other activity. Greeks must pay a membership fee each semester, ranging from about 300 dollars per semester to nearly 700 dollars. Many have described the time commitment as equivalent to taking on an extra class. There is generally a misconception that Greek life will consume one’s life, but the reality is that most organizations are generally fairly flexible with their members’ prior commitments and schedule conflicts.
“Greek is also great for anyone that strives to better or challenge themselves. It helps you become more outgoing and friendlier as well as aids in bettering your professional life in the future with networking and future business opportunities. The majority of people assume that you can’t have a life if you join a fraternity or sorority. This view couldn’t be further from the truth. Members are able to put into it what they expect out of it. All of the members in Greek life that I have encountered are involved in other activities such as sports, jobs, or clubs on campus,” said Werner.
Students that are interested in rushing this semester should verify their eligibility by checking out the official college policies regarding Greek membership. They should also be on the lookout for upcoming interest meetings and related events. Whether you choose to go Greek or decide it’s not for you, it never hurts to educate yourself about the many ways of becoming more involved in RC community and to explore the options available to you.
“I see Greek life here at Roanoke as a really positive thing. It exists here at the college, so it is an option if you want to get involved, but it’s not overbearing, so I feel that there isn’t a ton of pressure put on students to join like at schools where Greek life involvement is more common. Greeks are a really integral part of our campus community, and I feel that they are a positive campus presence,” said sophomore Casey Wilson, a new member of Alpha Sigma Alpha.