Madison Polkowitz / Gavel Media

Go (Away) Greek!

Go Greek? No, thanks.

It’s the beginning of the semester, and you know what that means: sorority recruitment, bid day, and big/little reveal! No, not at Boston College, but with all the pictures inundating our Instagram feeds from friends at other schools, it can almost feel like we’re a part of it. Typical of most Jesuit, Catholic universities, BC does not have Greek life. No frat parties, no bigs and littles, no formals, no Greek letters plastered all over campus. But are we really missing out? Not at all. BC is much better off as a university and as a student body without the presence of Greek life.

You’ve probably heard your high school friends lauding the benefits of being in a sorority or fraternity: it’s an easy way to make new friends, there are lots of fun parties, it’s a service club and a social organization all in one—the list goes on. There are some things that Greek life provides that can undoubtedly make college an easier transition for underclassmen and generally more fun for everyone. Sororities and fraternities bring people together, and they provide upperclassmen mentors for younger students, which might otherwise be hard to find at the beginning of college. Some schools allow freshmen to move in early in order to rush, and having a friend group right off the bat without weeks of awkward socializing can ease nerves and make college initially more enjoyable. Additionally, once those upperclassmen graduate, they then belong to the alumni network of that sorority or fraternity, which can be beneficial for networking when it comes to looking for advice, opportunities, or future jobs.

Sure, there are some benefits to these organizations and Greek life definitely isn’t all bad, but it’s simply unnecessary. You don’t need to pledge any group in order to make friends in college. You’ll find people outside of a sorority or fraternity who will be your “sisters” or “brothers”; odds are these friends will have more in common with you than just the Greek letters you both happen to have in your Instagram bios. At schools like BC, friend groups are more likely to form based on genuinely shared interests. Instead of taking on a collective persona of a larger organization, individuals here can maintain their true personalities without having to be part of the forced friendships, rules, and obligations of Greek life.

Feeling pressure to join Greek life as an incoming freshman can have its drawbacks. Freshman year is meant to be a time when you discern your interests, expand your skills, network, and discover new things about yourself and others. Associating with a sorority or fraternity, an inherently exclusive organization that you will be tied to for the next four years, can stunt this growth process and limit the people you meet, as well as the opportunities you come across. It can be comforting to have a built-in group of friends, but when you’re studying, going out, eating, and even living with the same people, you don’t have as much drive to explore other options.

But let’s say you do join a sorority or fraternity. This means you lasted through the stressful “rush week,” in which sororities and fraternities meet potential members and both sides decide to whom they want to commit, culminating in a bid-day ceremony. The entire process is based upon first impressions, snap judgments, and possible subsequent exclusion. The rejections can be devastating to a freshman. However, for those who are selected, membership comes at a cost. Fees can cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to more than $3,000 a semester, depending on the school and chapter, not to mention gifts, crafts, apparel, and other expenses.

In addition, although chapters have decided to ban hazing practices, it is still prevalent in many forms: physical harm, public humiliation, and forced binge drinking. One study shows that 73% of students participating in sororities and fraternities have experienced at least one hazing behavior, and the most commonly reported one is forced participation in drinking games. Last year, a Pennsylvania State pledge student died at a frat party after he was given at least 18 drinks in less than an hour and a half. Subsequently, he fell down the stairs and later died from the injuries he sustained. This is not to say that all Greek life operates in this way, but involvement in these organizations can definitely come at a high cost.

While some students at BC lament the fact that no fraternities means no easy access to parties, most people don’t seem to miss Greek life too much. Granted, we don’t go to a large state school, so we already have a better sense of a close-knit community. Also, we have our own unique social life here. To some extent, the Mods serve as our "frat houses," except instead of each fraternity having its own house, each club or team has its own Mod. This can make it harder to find and get into parties, but it goes to show that here we prioritize real connections. And that makes for a more meaningful college experience.