On the Connecticut River
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A white house with the letter A and Greek letter theta over the door, in front of a cloudy sky. Outside of the house to the left are green bushes and a tree with white flowers

In the months before I started my first year at Dartmouth, I had plenty to be nervous about, but one worry stood out above all: the prevalence of Greek Life at Dartmouth. If you come on one of my campus tours, you'll hear me say that in high school, I was absolutely convinced that you could not pay me enough money to step foot in any Greek space—fraternity, sorority, or otherwise–period. That perspective, of course, didn't mesh well with the fact that over 60% of Dartmouth's student body is affiliated with a Greek house, even with the entire first-year class banned from rushing until their sophomore year. As someone who didn't want or plan to get involved with Greek life, I didn't know what my social life would look like, and although I'd received plenty of reassurance from current students and alumni that there were plenty of social opportunities outside of the Greek system, it remained a lingering fear of mine for quite some time.

Oddly enough, my first year was almost completely devoid of opportunities to confirm or deny my assumptions about the Greek system at Dartmouth, as most classes and activities were completely virtual for the first year. Although I was on campus, there were no open-to-campus events taking place in physical Greek spaces, so I had no chance to see them for myself, even if I wanted to do so. That being said, my first year at Dartmouth worked out just fine for me socially without even tangentially making contact with the Greek system—I got very close very quickly with some floormates and other students I met throughout my first term and finished freshman year feeling socially satisfied and closely connected to the various groups of friends I'd made. 

When things shifted more and more back to in-person at the beginning of my sophomore year, I still had the same misgivings about Greek life that I had a year ago and thus still did not plan to rush, but those misgivings didn't worry me as much by this point because I knew that regardless of Greek organizations or how they affected campus culture, I had a solid group of friends that would support me in any social environment. Once I got to campus to start that year, I found myself seeing a lot of emails and flyers about open-to-campus events at Greek spaces, and although I still wasn't totally sold, my curiosity grew as I heard more and more about the different houses that existed on campus. 

As a trans person with mostly queer friends, many of us were a bit put off by the strict gendering of the single-sex Greek spaces and found ourselves drawn to check out a couple of events at the gender-inclusive Greek houses on campus. There are three: Alpha Theta, Tabard, and Phi Tau, alongside two gender-inclusive non-Greek student societies: Amarna and Panarchy. By the end of my sophomore fall, I'd attended events at all five of these houses and really enjoyed my time at all of them, to my (pleasant) surprise! While some of the events hosted by these houses were parties, which I often enjoyed more than I thought I would, there were just as many alternative events, like Alpha Theta's weekly movie nights and Mellows events, which are basically just a chance to get a free dessert (a new one every week!) while meeting and talking to new and old friends! I didn't feel at all like I'd feared I would in a Greek house–each of these places was tremendously welcoming and supportive towards members and non-members alike being themselves within their space.

A group of five Dartmouth students in front of a sign that says Six Flags
Me and some Alpha Theta friends on the house Six Flags trip!

While I'd been pleasantly surprised by how much I'd enjoyed myself at a variety of these events, I still wasn't completely sure about actually joining one of these organizations. I'd attended a couple of non-binding rush events for a couple of different houses my sophomore fall, but I remained on the fence until my sophomore spring. Some of my friends had become members of Alpha Theta, and I found myself spending more and more time at the house, so I decided to join officially in April. 

The process was a lot of fun and basically the opposite of intense—we were given up to a full year after receiving a bid to think about whether or not we wanted to "sink" the bid (i.e., become a member), and we have a confidential name-your-dues system where fees are reducible to zero, eliminating any concern about the financial accessibility of being a member. Since then, it's been one of the organizations I put the most time into on campus, and I'm currently our house manager, handling maintenance projects, residents' weekly house jobs, safety inspections, and more! For someone who came into college resolutely opposed to rushing, I've actually gotten quite involved in my Greek house, and overall, it's been a positive experience! I appreciate the opportunity to live in the house, which feels a lot more "homey" than a dorm building, and the chances I've had to cross paths with people from all over campus that I never would've met or bonded with otherwise. That's not to say that I think everyone should be involved in Greek life—as with everything in life, it's not one-size-fits-all, and Greek life as an institution beyond just Dartmouth absolutely has fundamental issues that are worth paying attention to–but my perceptions of what Greek life can be and what "type" of person gets involved in it has shifted a lot since I first got to Dartmouth. Ultimately, I'm glad I kept an open mind because my house has introduced me to many of my favorite people on campus!

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