This is mostly for the freshmen. Now that you have a couple of days of class under your belt and are, hopefully, beginning to settle down, you can begin to think about some of the other aspects of life at the College of William and Mary. The Greek system is one campus institution in which some of you might be interested, but because it is new it may be confusing or intimidating. Here are a few words on Greek life, and how you can test it out for yourself.
Most of this column will be directed at the guys, because, in general, sorority recruitment is much better at introducing women to Greek life. Fraternity rush is much more informal and individual. If you don’t know many upperclassmen, you may be unsure of how to go about it and miss out entirely.
The next two weeks constitute fall rush for most social fraternities. During this time freshmen — and unaffiliated upperclassmen — are welcomed wherever they go. Fraternities hold events throughout the week, both in the units and around campus. Barbecues, poker nights and sports are the most popular activities. Most of these events are relatively low key, and anyone can drop in and introduce themselves. This is a good way to meet brothers and fellow freshmen. Aside from these events, fraternities will host parties on weekends which, in college, mean Fridays, Saturdays and some Thursdays. Freshmen can usually walk right in and be shown great hospitality.
It’s generally a good idea to visit several different fraternities, since each has a different feel to it. It’s also acceptable to visit fraternities even if you have no intention of rushing. The next two weeks offer the perfect opportunity to go to free parties and have a good time, but keep an open mind. Many times someone who had no intention of going Greek has changed his or her mind — and been glad for doing so. Above all, be honest with the brothers about your intentions. Do not say you want to join if you are undecided, and do not be afraid to voice any concerns or questions you may have.
Monday Sept. 13 is the first day fraternities will extend bids. If the brothers got to know and like you, they will ask you to join their chapter. More often than not, you will have a good idea of which fraternity will extend a bid to you before it actually happens. Once you get your bid, or bids, it is up to you to decide if you wish to join. If you choose to join a fraternity, you will go through a period of pledging before you become a brother. Each chapter has different pledging procedures, which you will have to find out about on your own.
If you choose not to join, it does not mean you have sworn off all connection to Greek life. What sets the College’s Greek system apart from most others is its lack of exclusivity. Most brothers are friends with non-affiliated students and members of other fraternities and it is not uncommon to find non-brothers around the fraternity units. But, after rush ends, there is a different code of conduct for visiting fraternities. You can no longer simply walk in at any time. Certain parties such as the ubiquitous frat dance parties are open to everyone, but at other times you need to know a few brothers or at least show up with some — preferably female — friends who do. Events such as mixers are exclusively for the brothers and sisters of certain chapters.
Finally, rush happens every semester, although it is more low key in the spring. If you end up not rushing this semester, the option will still be there in the spring — or when you are a sophomore or junior. I would say you should try it out at some point because the only way to know if you want to go Greek is to experience it for yourself.