Navigating the Social Scene as an Unaffiliated Student
Greek life was never really something I thought about when I began visiting colleges. I recognized that many students used Greek life as a social outlet, but I did not have a "Greek vs. Not Greek" checkbox when evaluating schools nor did I let the presence of on-campus sororities and fraternities weigh into my decision of where I wanted to be for the next four years of my life.
So, despite this ambivalent approach to Greek life during the college selection process, I knew upon committing to Dartmouth that I was going to have to figure out a way to navigate the Greek scene.
As it turned out, students are not able to "rush" fraternities or sororities until their sophomore fall, meaning I had my entire freshman year to figure out where I stood on the issue. I used this time to join clubs, meet new friends, and figure out where I felt most comfortable on campus without the added pressure of deciding whether or not to #GoGreek.
In all honesty, the craziness and excitement of freshman year made me forget about deciding whether or not to rush. I did attend a few events at some of the sororities my upperclassmen friends were affiliated with during my freshman spring, but, as I prepared to be abroad for two terms in a row, Greek life was the least of my worries.
Fast forward to sophomore winter when I'm back on campus. During my fall abroad, about half of my friends who were on campus ended up rushing, but the other half remained content with their clubs, Living Learning Communities, and pre-existing friend groups. Now that I was back in Hanover--and because rush occurs in both the fall and winter--it was time for me to make a decision (which, in all honesty, was pretty easy). I looked at my calendar and the list of mandatory rush events, saw a number of overlaps between midterms, clubs, and regularly scheduled dinners with friends, and decided that I was very happy with my social life the way it was. My affiliated friends already invited me to some of their house events, and I simply did not have the time or energy to commit to something new without having to sacrifice one of the clubs, activities, or friendships that I cherished.
As I head into my senior year, I am still very happy with the choice that I made to remain unaffiliated. Greek life can absolutely be a place where students meet lifelong friends and find a sense of community, but so can Living Learning Communities, clubs, and random events/classes on campus. In fact, I met many of my closest friends at Dartmouth by happenstance through group projects, Dartmouth Coach mishaps at the Boston Logan Airport, and introductions from friends of friends.
Choosing to remain unaffiliated was the best decision for me. But, at the end of the day, Greek life at Dartmouth is not a make-or-break-it kind of thing. Each student has the opportunity to choose whether or not to rush a fraternity or sorority, and you can decide to do so all the way up until the winter of your senior year.