Welcome to Greek Life!
When I was thinking about college, rush was the last thing on my mind. When I imagined the tender, wholesome parts of Dartmouth that drew me to the college, Greek life seemed to fall out of the picture and out of my image of Dartmouth as a whole. And I think that after starting college, a lot of the first-years felt the same.
But how could this be, when our friends at other schools are rushing or have already accepted their bids?
At Dartmouth, there is an intentional effort to distance first-years from Greek life while they settle into their new environment. For the first 6 weeks of first-year Fall, there is a "frat ban" enforced, which encourages new students to bond with their class. Another policy that Dartmouth differs on is that we rush our Sophomore Fall, instead of during first-year. I really appreciated this system because it allowed me to find my footing here and establish friendships before rushing, which I think has made being in a house less consuming.
This system Dartmouth maintains allowed me to forget about rush while I was figuring everything out! But when it came time for sophomore year, I was still hesitant: I was unsure of whether rush would be a beneficial thing for me. My friends who attended different schools all rushed before me, and I remember thinking that it would be cool to be in a group of all women, but I didn't think the dresses, the makeup, and the artificial connections I thought sororities and fraternities would foster were really for me.
However, Dartmouth Greek life is much different than what I'd heard about the southern state school experience. Since I haven't gone through fraternity rush, I won't speak for the guy's side of things, but for sororities, it is much more lowkey. The dress code is whatever you feel most comfortable in, and they don't look for one uniform person. While the sororities do try to place you in the house you'll fit best, evaluation is based on your personality rather than looks. Also, rather than having a cookie-cutter image of a house's girl, many sororities are very diverse, which is something they take pride in.
Since rushing, I think that a sorority at Dartmouth is something you can be as involved or as uninvolved as you want: there is only one short, required meeting per week. The rest is fun bonding activities that you only attend if you want to! For example, every Sunday, we have spa night, where we make bracelets together and wear face masks! And every Tuesday, we have a movie night! My favorite event this term has been making charcuterie boards before listening to Taylor Swift's "Midnights" when the album dropped!
Whether or not you think you would want to be affiliated, your experience at Dartmouth would be very similar: spaces like sororities, clubs, and extracurriculars are all spaces to get to know the people around you and become more involved with campus. Most of the upperclassmen I knew before rushing were unaffiliated, and I met them because they were involved in the things they enjoyed! Since they didn't have to split their time between Greek life and extracurriculars, they were always around and were friendly faces to see during club meetings and club socials. So, the community and social aspect some might look for in Greek life exists in clubs as well.