One of the biggest decisions you’ll face during freshman year is whether or not you want to join a sorority or fraternity. Needless to say, Wake Forest offers plenty of non-Greek communities, too.
By Melissa Libutti, News Editor
Over the course of your freshman year, you are faced with many choices.
Whether it be selecting your class schedule, attending sporting events or joining a club, these choices begin to shape your college experience from the moment you step onto campus. Some of these choices will seem effortless; you have endured similar decisions throughout high school, maybe even throughout your entire life.
However, the decision of whether or not to join a Greek organization is completely foreign.
Greek life provides the opportunity to join an organization that has the ability to completely redefine your Wake Forest experience.
A tradition embedded in the roots of Wake Forest life for over 50 years, a total of 11 sororities and 15 fraternities make up the Greek system. After beginning to assimilate to Wake Forest culture and the demands of college life during your first semester, you have the ability at the start of your spring semester to participate in the formal recruitment process for one of 26 national, international, multicultural and business fraternities.
While this decision and the process that follows may seem daunting, puzzling or possibly not for you, I’d like to give you my perspective as a senior who never thought she would join a Greek organization but cannot imagine her Wake Forest experience without it.
I went through the rush process just as most other freshmen do: confused and disoriented. Walking into rooms of women dressed in the same outfits, clapping and singing, I did not understand how this could ever lead to me finding a group of girls I truly connect with or have anything in common with.
But, as the week continued, I found myself more and more drawn to a group where everyday I looked forward to walking into their room. Everyday, I would meet someone new and unique and our conversations felt comfortable. As the week continued, I no longer felt like I was part of a larger process of numbers and selection but simply making friends with girls I may not have otherwise met.
Joining a Greek organization is so much more than just joining any other group. It is more than the opportunities it gives you in leadership roles, philanthropy events and community involvement. It isn’t just a name or a group of letters to put on a résumé.
When I joined a sorority, I became part of something I am proud to be a member of everyday. I met girls that I would have possibly never met but know undoubtedly will be a part of the rest of my life. Whether it has been studying in the ZSR, eating in the Pit or talking for hours about absolutely anything and everything, I know I can turn to these girls for every major and minor decision I have to make.
Joining a sorority or fraternity not only connects you within that single organization — it also connects you to a whole group of organizations. It allows you to integrate into a system that facilitates connections between people in ways that become infinitely more challenging without it. The connections you make will stretch far outside of the lines of your own organization.
My sorority does not define me. It does not fit me into a mold or shape me as a person. The organization and the women within it have given me the security and support system to grow and become the most confident, unapologetic version of myself that I believe I can be.
By Julia Haines, News Editor
“Are you in a sorority/fraternity?” If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a dozen times. It happens to be the most popular go-to question to kick off new conversation among many students at Wake Forest. It’s as common as “What’s your major?” and “Where are you from?”
While Greek life definitely has a strong presence on campus and many students choose to affiliate, there are major perks to being a GDI, or Gosh Darn Independent.
The first and most obvious benefit of not being affiliated is that you can save money. While Greek students often have to pay hundreds of dollars in dues every semester for their memberships to both the national and the campus chapter of their fraternity or sorority, students not involved in Greek life can save money for weekly Zumba classes at the gym or a Wake Alternative Break (WAB) trip to New Orleans during spring break.
Secondly, many GDI’s have more free time to pursue a variety of hobbies and interests through campus organizations and more free time to balance rigorous course loads or frequent office hours.
Oftentimes, those dedicated to Greek life can easily be consumed by chapter meetings, fundraisers and general sisterhood or brotherhood events, which can range from lineage dinners to recruitment workshops. While having a strong sense of family with one’s Greek organization is important to many students, it is a large time commitment, meaning students who “go Greek” tend to, at least initially, have less time for their non-Greek activities and counterparts. Many GDI students are instead able to find the same type of family-knit community through club sports, volunteer organizations and campus ministries.
Sophomore Karen Gusmer, a proud GDI herself, feels that she did not need Greek life to form solid friendships within her college family.
“I feel that the relationships that I have developed with my best friends have come as a result of true interest in getting to know someone,” Gusmer said.
“I guess it just feels more genuine as opposed to the almost expected friendships that seem to come about from Greek life sometimes. I’m not saying that great, lifelong friendships cannot be formed through Greek life. It just seems that a genuine sisterhood or brotherhood shouldn’t have to revolve around or be formed because of an organized group.”
A third perk of being a GDI, or, as some students joke, a ZSR pledge, is that one maintains an aura of mystery and intrigue without Greek letters attached to their name. It allows you to go about campus somewhat incognito, free of any stereotypes or assumptions associated with Greek tiers and reputations. Although not based on anything substantial, these stereotypes can be difficult to disprove. A GDI can trade in the date function shirt for one referencing “The Office,” which can serve as a pretty great conversation piece.
A GDI is able to become friends with and associate with a wide variety of both Greek and non-Greek students, all the while avoiding “do you know (insert name of random person in respective Greek organization)” conversations and proving that non-Greek students can be just as sociable, philanthropic and connected as the next student.