The sham friendships of Greek life

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Jarred Stancil is a sophomore majoring in international affairs.  

Rush week is upon us. Hundreds of students, most of them freshmen, will go from townhouse to townhouse to win the affections of Greek brothers or sisters.

It might seem like the popular thing to do at GW around this time of year, but you will not find me taking part in rush.

As a transfer student, I can relate to incoming freshmen who want to find a community and close friends. But there are better ways to accomplish this than through Greek life.

Because GW has about three times the number of student in Greek life than it did a decade ago, the problem is even more startling.

During rush week, new students – some perhaps yet unfamiliar with all aspects of life at GW and still finding their way around – subject themselves to subservience and try to prove themselves worthy of friendships with people they don’t yet know well.

Some potential pledges even go to the extreme of buying hundreds of dollars in new clothing in order to impress.

Then, once they’re in the group, passionate loyalty is expected of all brothers or sisters, whether or not the new member actually feels like he or she has something in common with them. And that’s the issue with Greek life: In many cases, it often makes for sham friendships, and many end up being superficial.

Those who go Greek have an obligation to these people no matter what. Forget if you’d rather do something more productive on Friday night than a mixer – new members are often obligated to attend some group event. Sometimes, these are friendships based on obligation, and not on any real connection.

Is that really what incoming students want?

A better way to make friends on campus is by joining student organizations. Theater companies or multicultural student organizations, for example, allow for a sense of community while pursuing a shared passion. Members of student organizations are free to choose which other members they would like to be close with. These friendships are more likely to remain genuine because you get to pick them as opposed to having them chosen for you.

Everyone wants to find a group where they fit in, and everyone wants to make good friends, but the number one priority should be finding people who like you because they want to, not because you belong to a collective where friendship and bonding is required.

In fairness, strong friendships can be forged through Greek life, and some people choose to join fraternities and sororities as a result of real connections made during the rush process. But any friendship that includes obligation to a group as a condition for inclusion insults the concept of friendship.

I’d rather have the option of choosing whom I want in my life, and whom I can tell to go to hell.

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