The low-down on Greek Life

by Gabrielle Dunn – Case Western Reserve University, USA – Politics & Philosophy

Keywords: Sorority, Fraternity, Sister, Brother, Rush, Recruitment, Formal, Paying for friends

Case Western Reserve University is big on Greek Life. By this I mean that over 50% of the student population are either in a sorority or a fraternity.

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Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, its a Phi Delt formal

Sorority (noun) A society for female students – typically named after a combination of Greek letters e.g. Alpha Phi ⍺Φ

Fraternity (noun) Same as a sorority but for ‘bros’

Sister/Brother (also nouns) How people within the sororities and fraternities refer to other members. Not to be confused with blood relations.

Rush/Recruitment (period of time) This is when all prospective “Greek” college kids are on their best behaviour in the hopes that they will receive a ‘bid’ from a sorority or fraternity which would, if they accept it (and pay their dues), make them officially part of the fam.

Frat recruitment is pretty relaxed, it includes current members hanging out with prospective members in order to get to know them and consider offering a bid.  Sorority recruitment was more structured. For example, it included many rounds of short formal interviews to get to know what the hopeful is like, and set days where girls would have to wear a ‘cute top’ or ‘cute pants’ in order to see if their choice suited the sorority vibe.

We’ve all seen the movies, and probably have pre-conceived ideas about the shenanigans that go on in Frat houses. However, at Case, Greek life felt more like a way that people could fast-track their way into a friendship group with people with generally similar interests.  By similar interests I mean going to formals, which are dinner & dance occasions where students would go (not without a date) to escape work responsibilities for an evening.

There were 9 sororities and 18 fraternities; all with their own principles and ethos’. Informal labels related certain groups to football, or being very studious, or being especially LGBTQ inclusive. I was told by outsiders, that once you get to know the fraternities and sororities, you can start to hazard a guess to see which one a student belongs to. There were also sorority and fraternity houses, which were mansions where brothers and sisters could reside together 24/7.

All in all, this part of U.S. college life was very different from the U.K.  So what do you think, should Greek Life be introduced at Manchester?

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