Being welcomed to Southern Methodist University (SMU) is one of the best feelings a new student can have. However, this feeling can sometimes be associated with pressure to join Greek organizations. Only about 48% of women join a sorority and 32% of men join a fraternity at SMU. I interviewed six people, including current students and alumni from SMU and other local universities, to understand the wide array of experiences and interactions students can have with Greek organizations. The interviewees are one SMU alumni who never joined a sorority, one Gamma Phi Beta alumni, one Sigma Alpha Epsilon alumni, one Beta Upsilon Chi sophomore at SMU, one Chi Omega sophomore at SMU, and one senior at SMU who never joined a fraternity. After talking to a variety of people, I learned that for each student, there is a unique path. For some, Greek life is part of their college time, whilst other people join and participate in communities and organizations instead.
Everyone at SMU is assigned a Residential Commons, even if you never live on campus. When you join Greek life, your Commons assignment does not go away and you can still stay involved in both your Commons and Greek association. No matter what organization or residential experience you choose in college, you will end up in the right place.
I interviewed an SMU alumni who chose not to partake in Greek life. She said she made most of her friends from “…people in [her] classes, …you meet one or two cool people in your classes and they would introduce you to other people who were cool and they would introduce you to other people.” She does not regret abstaining from rushing, “…because everybody that [she knows] that did rush ended up regretting [it] later because of responsibilities and the duties.”
Another interviewee is a current senior at SMU who never rushed. He made most of his friends through “friends of friends. [His] freshman year roommate introduced [him] to people who introduced [him] to people etc.” To contradict what the alumni said, he would go back and “sign up for rush freshman year” if given the chance. As you can tell, both students had completely different experiences regarding rush: one would love to go back and rush while the other would never rush in a million years. There is no right answer when deciding whether to rush or not.
A sorority alumni was also interviewed and claims that she “definitely [doesn’t] regret rushing.” Furthermore, a current student in a fraternity said “…there was really zero downside since you can always pull out of the fraternity process at any point.” Similarly, a current sorority student has “never regretted rushing! It was an absolute blast for [her] and [she] would do it over again and still end up where [she] did 100 times.” People who rushed will not always have a positive experience, but the people that I interviewed definitely do not regret it. If a student decides that rushing is not for them, there are plenty of opportunities to make connections at SMU.
A main reason people tend to join sorority and fraternity life is for the connections that will help students find a job after graduation. However, after interviewing an alumni who was in a sorority, this association is not necessarily accurate. She said that “…when [she] did work [she] worked for United Way out of school…[she] actually had met someone and interviewed with them…[and] nothing was really related to [her] sorority.” I asked another alumni who was in a fraternity if the fraternity helped with any experience or connections needed in order to get the job he has now, and his response was simply “No.” This is not to say that sororities and fraternities will not help with getting jobs and connections. For instance, a current sorority student—not an interviewee—has gotten an internship because of her connection with a sorority sister. Needless to say, a sorority or fraternity involvement is obviously not needed in order to obtain a job, given the three alumni’s interviews.
Every new student at SMU is required to live on campus for two years. Living in a Residential Commons satisfies this requirement, but you can apply for an exemption to live within your sorority or fraternity house, provided they have offered you a space in the house. After joining a sorority or fraternity, you can choose to remain in your Commons or to move into the house. A current SMU student in a fraternity chose to remain within his Commons, and he says “[he] quickly became good friends with [his] roommate and neighbors” when he first came to SMU. For some, it is better to live in the Commons, while others prefer to live in their new Greek home.
From interviewing the variety of students and alumni, I have learned that no matter what someone decides, their journey is meant for them. When asked if they would change anything about their college experience, their answers were all positive because they ended up where they were meant to be. When deciding to rush or not, your decision should be made by trusting yourself and to not give into what you think everyone else is doing. Rushing offers an opportunity for people to join a connected group of students, but going to class and joining organizations provides those same opportunities. Your college life will help determine who you were meant to be, whether that includes becoming a brother or sister or not.