While many students at Wake Forest enjoy the benefits of their respective Greek organizations, almost half choose to remain independent during their college years. I am one of those people.
What I have found is that many “independents” or “GDIs” as they are often called, have a reputation of being “other” or “different” on campus. However, through debunking some myths surrounding non-Greek students, I want to emphasize that this individuality of not being affiliated can be a really positive thing.
“‘Independents’ cannot make friends”
You might hear this myth tossed around a good bit as your peers begin to consider rushing a sorority or fraternity. As ridiculous as it might seem to read this now, some actually do believe that they will not make any friends at Wake Forest if they do not rush. A large part of this sentiment arises from the tremendous pressure to rush, which tends to engulf freshmen around Winter Break each year. The ironic part is that I definitely remember making friends before Rush came around. And rest assured that you will continue to make friends at Wake Forest even if you decide that Greek Life isn’t for you. Once you establish a few things that you like to do on campus — be it volunteering or just getting a cup of coffee at Campus Grounds — you will soon find that others share common interests with you even though you aren’t bound to a similar organization.
“Independents do not get the ‘full college experience’”
First off, is there any such thing as a “full college experience?” Honestly, Wake Forest is only as good as the community you forge out of it. For some, their sorority or fraternity provide such a community. But for others, you may feel kind of limited by the kinds of experiences Greek Life offers. Perhaps you want a more eclectic and diverse experience as an undergraduate? Then you might see yourself involved in Wake Radio or Outdoor Pursuits where you try out new music and pursue new adventures with others. Wake Forest offers so many clubs and activities that there are plenty of opportunities for a community outside of Greek Life. Senior Sara Coronel does not regret her decision to stay independent over her past four years. Instead, she has undergone a different experience than most of her peers, electing to travel instead of staying at school for recruitment.
“Although I have a lot of friends who rushed and eventually joined Greek Life, I decided not to rush because I am visiting family in Paraguay or Costa Rica during the winter holidays,” Coronel said. It is a family tradition we have upheld since I was a year old.”
So, while some may argue that not rushing will not give you a full college experience, others would say that it allows you to have a different and more eclectic experience.
“Independents do not build a good network”
The last myth I have heard about independents is that they do not have a network comparable to that of a brother or sister in a fraternity or a sorority. Senior Robin Larsen disagrees. He elected to spend an entire year abroad in France instead of rushing a fraternity.
“I feel that I have made not just a good network in comparison to a fraternity brother, but also a global one that allows me to connect to many different people with multiple experiences,” Larsen said.
If you worry that your time at Wake Forest might be dampered by staying independent, do not fear too much. As long as you put yourself out there, you will find that you will have a great experience and an extensive network of peers throughout your time in college.