One of the factors many consider to be central to the college experience in the United States is the social scene created and maintained by fraternities and sororities. Greek Life is an important aspect to the social life of many college students.
On one of my recent visits to a college campus, I met up with a former student of mine who will soon be a junior. He is a Division 1 wrestler, and as an athlete he has been discouraged from joining a fraternity. However, he attends a college that is very heavily Greek.
He explained what that contradiction means in this short video.
If you prefer, you can read the transcript below.
Interviewer: Alex, tell me, you’re a division 1 athlete, wrestler.
Interviewer: What’s it like being an athlete? When you’re a division 1 athlete, what does that mean for you in college life?
Alex: It means my college life is mainly academics and athletics. I told Mark earlier, there’s three points to a triangle in college, you got social, athletics and academics, you only need to succeed at two. So, one of them’s going to suffer, whether you choose athletics, social, or academics, is your choice, but it’s impossible to get all three, you just don’t have enough time to do it and they have rollover effects, so.
Interviewer: And you’re an engineering major.
Interviewer: So you’re a little insane?
Alex: Kind of, yeah. I enjoy it, it’s fun.
Interviewer: So tell me, behind you, we have some fraternity houses here and there’s quite a few fraternities on this campus and so, oh, we know where we are now. So tell me, what percentage, what’s the story that you hear about that the percentage of students who are Greek and then what’s the reality?
Alex: I think the school says like 30%, but I think they take that before the new pledge class and after the seniors have graduated, so it’s about half, so I think accurately, I think it’s around 60%, I’m making that up, but that’s just from my experience and how many fraternities/sororities I know and how many kids are in them and how many kids go to this school. So I would say around 60% are in some sort of Greek, whether it’s ones that are here, a few of them have off-campus houses, but are still university sponsored.
Mark: And are you Greek?
Mark: What does that mean for you, if you’ve got 50, 60% of the students here are in a house, what does that mean for you?
Alex: I mean, I feel like Greek life fraternities, they provide a group of people to hang out with and do things together, and so if you don’t have that somewhere else, it’s kind of tough, but luckily for me, in the wrestling team, is my fraternity. A lot of times are spent practicing, but we also hang out together, those living off campus, so that’s, I mean, if you’re not in a fraternity or sorority, you have to have another group of people to be with.
Mark: So what would you say to someone who really doesn’t know, you know, is a high school student and hasn’t thought very long and hard about this whole fraternity issue. What would you tell them to think about as they’re trying to make a decision whether they want to go to a campus that’s heavily Greek or to avoid that? What would you say?
Alex: I don’t know, I feel like, I’ve never been to a different university that isn’t predominantly Greek, but I feel like even if you go to those schools and at least the ones I talk to, my friends, some of them go to bigger state universities, that aren’t Greek, it still comes down to the same thing, you need a group of people that are, to hang out with, and like the thing a fraternity provides is the people that tend to be very similar interest and exactly like you. Some people don’t like that, some people like to have a diverse group of friends. It kind of depends on what you want. But fraternities/sororities just happen to be people that a lot of times are carbon copies or want to be, so, yeah.