It’s Saturday night in the basement of an overcrowded fraternity townhouse. A summer dubstep anthem is playing in the background, the smell of sweat and alcohol wafts through the air as sloppy couples sneak off to not-so-secluded corners.
This is college in all its promised glory, and I am sober.
With school work, an internship, a job and early morning recruitment training, typically I’ll pass on booze. And I’m not alone: Non-intoxicated members of Greek life are not social pariahs, nor are they cookie-cutter rule-followers. They represent the varied makeup of Greek life and the old-fashioned notion that you don’t need to be drunk to have a good time.
For instance, sophomore Sydney Sadick, a member of Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority, completely abstains from alcohol.
“Some people can’t grasp how I can go to a party and have fun without the buzz. They’re like, ‘Not even one?’ And I’ll say, ‘Not even a sip,'” Sadick said.
Yes, navigating mixers, formals and midday “darty ragers” sober is challenging and an exercise in patience. There is perhaps nothing more annoying than drunken friends hugging you against your will.
But for any skeptics who think Greek life is lifeless without large quantities of alcohol, stop watching “Animal House.” There’s still plenty Greek life can offer for those staying sober.
For example, you can get savvy to enjoy hallowed social events. Parties with ridiculous themes, crazy costumes and great music will always be fun regardless of what’s in your Solo cup. The trick is to leave before the girls start falling out of their heels and the guys start drunkenly singing “Wagon Wheel.”
For the field day enthusiasts eager to earn their chapter the glory of a philanthropy win, skipping the alcohol is the strategy of champions. Actual sports are not like beer pong – you can’t claim that your athletic prowess is directly related to the amount of booze you consume. In fact, the opposite is generally true.
Getting involved in your sorority or fraternity doesn’t hinge only on drunken post-party bonding. Run for an office or organize a charity event – not only does it look nice on a resume, but it also makes you an integral part of your chapter.
It’s important to give the Greek community its due credit: While drinking is a big part of the culture, so is friendship. And most chapters do prioritize brotherhood – or sisterhood – over booze.
“It’s a personal choice, so it doesn’t affect anyone else if I don’t drink,” Sadick said. “I don’t think I’m that boring to be around – others seem to admire it and respect it.”