Fraternity expansion is thriving on campus with the arrival of three colonies over the last few years: Zeta Psi, Sigma Alpha Mu and Tau Kappa Epsilon. What is it about the experience that’s appealing to people?
It seems that the majority of people in a fraternity or sorority at AU preface the explanation of their greek experience with, “I never came to college thinking I’d go greek, but…”
Like everything else in life, going greek has its positives and negatives. For example, living in a fraternity or sorority house is the strongest indicator of binge drinking in college, according to a study done by the Harvard School of Public Health.
However, almost half of all U.S. presidents have been greek, as well as 40 percent of Supreme Court justices and 30 percent of Fortune 500 executives, according to Cornell University’s Web site.
Collegeprowler.com — a Web site written by students about their colleges — says AU has an active greek community, but that students can be unaffiliated without social consequences.
“Frats and sororities [at AU] are a good choice for people who feel overwhelmed and want a surefire way to make friends,” the site says. “Students who don’t care about greek life need not worry, as it is entirely possible to ignore.”
For spring 2010, AU’s fraternities and colonies took a total of 136 pledges. Including brothers, AU has a total membership of 524 students belonging to or pledging a fraternity, accounting for 6 percent of AU’s total undergraduate population, according to IFC Public Relations Chair Adam Tager.
So why do AU students decide to go greek? What’s the rush?
For Robert Goodley-Espinosa, a freshman in the School of Public Affairs, the concept of brotherhood won him over. He realized he missed the camaraderie he experienced at his all-boys high school, and after spending time with some brothers, decided to rush Pi Kappa Phi and TKE. Joining a fraternity would be meaningful to him, he said, and even though he wasn’t overly stressed out over the rushing process, he was still a little nervous about the possibility of not receiving a bid.
“You want to look interested, but at the same time you don’t want to look desperate or aloof,” he said. “You also don’t want to be publicly over-confident about it, because word gets around.”
He said rushing really starts in August. During “Welcome Week”- the week before classes known for its abundance of greek parties — brothers already begin to seek out potential recruits.
“By the time you rush, by the time you go out there, they know a kind of scary amount of stuff about you,” Espinosa said.
The next step after open rush — where everyone is welcome to attend — is closed rush, which is invite only. This is an opportunity for the brothers to get to know the rushes more intimately and more formally — the rushes have to wear suits.
“[Closed rush] is a little bit more stressful because you want to say the right words and avoid certain other topics,” Espinosa said.
However, being selected for closed rush doesn’t mean you’re “in” — the critical element being the bid. Austin Yau was another freshman rushing PiKapp and Delta Tau Delta. He said if he didn’t receive a bid, he wouldn’t feel too bad.
Yau was invited to PiKapp’s closed rush.
“I [felt] like maybe I get judged a little bit, but we all do that,” he said. “The way I see it is you go there to meet brothers who will eventually become basically your life-long friends, right? So you just want to be who you are ... so that you don’t be someone you’re not, because then you’re just going to be hanging out with these people who have a perception of you, and that’s just not the way it should be.”
Espinosa and Yau received and accepted bids from fraternity PiKapp.