Greek life has been viewed negatively by many people, and I am no exception. As an incoming freshman, I had a particular view of Greek life that would leave a bad taste in my mouth. The summer before I arrived at Southwestern, I was often asked by friends or family if I was going to rush a sorority when I got to school. I would respond with a polite “no,” but I was really thinking about how I would never—could never—join a sorority because of course I was much better than that. I found the concept of Greek life to be rudely exclusive, which was completely against the mentality I was trying to maintain entering the new college atmosphere. Why would I want to minimize my options of friends in a place where I already didn’t know anyone? As a relatively quiet person, and one who was very concerned about making friends my freshman year, I thought that participating in Greek life would not only separate me from the majority of campus but also was against my values as a person who cared about the inclusion of other people.

While these were my initial impressions of Greek life from what I had heard and even from what I had seen on social media, this was not my first impression of Greek life at Southwestern. I came into college eager but nervous to find my place. Luckily for me, as a collegiate soccer player, my season started right way, just as the school year was beginning, so I made friends quickly on my team. These friends ranged in levels of schooling, and many of them, to my surprise, were involved in Greek life. These ladies, who I had already respected and cared about as friends, introduced me to their other friends and encouraged me to attend the Greek mixers that were held in the fall semester since Southwestern holds formal recruitment in the spring. Without pressuring me, my teammates explained that there was no form of a commitment by attending these mixers and I should go just to meet more people on campus. I was intrigued by the way they talked so highly about their Greek-life experiences, and of course, I wanted to go meet more people, so I went to see for myself. I liked it enough that I continued to go to nearly all of the different Greek events, made good friends in the process, and soon I had noticed that my original perception of Greek life had been incredibly wrong. 

Eventually, I decided that going through formal recruitment was something that I might actually want to do. From what I had seen, these women were smart, welcoming, ambitious, and admirable. Not to say that the non-Greek women I met were not, but that idea I held of the “typical sorority girl” was completely inaccurate. These ladies did care about others. They cared deeply about each other but also about the well-being of campus, our community, and the world. But what stood out to me the most was that they all had friends outside of Greek life and among the different sororities. While, yes, there remains an element of exclusion in Greek organizations, here at Southwestern, I saw them continue to cross boundaries and break stereotypes. Being in a sorority was like being on different kind of team, one that was supportive, of course, but would never prevent someone from being friends with anyone else. I realized that by going through formal recruitment here at Southwestern, I could potentially join one of these groups, and I wouldn’t have to suppress my values as a person, but instead, I could bring them directly to the table. I knew that I could bring my true self because that was what I saw in all of these women. They weren’t looking for anyone to act a certain way, which I greatly admired. So somehow, as a self-proclaimed shy person, who felt like she had trouble making friends easily, I went through recruitment and joined a sorority. 

Here I am, years later, in a sorority and only a semester away from graduating, and I have felt completely loved and accepted ever since. While I certainly grew a lot in my time as a member of Greek life, having had the privilege of holding multiple officer positions and making many friends I probably would have never met otherwise, I know I would have grown just as well without this experience, and yet I am still glad I allowed my perception to be changed nearly three years ago. I still do not believe that Greek life is a must for everyone in college, but I know that I am thankful for my time as a Greek woman because it was, and continues to be, an empowering experience being surrounded by such strong women and loving friends. Now I look back without regret and feel grateful to those friends who encouraged me to open my perspective, to give something new a chance. Those ladies continue to care about me no matter what, and I thank Southwestern for bringing us together.