Which frat are you joining? Pi Lambda Phi? Sigma Nu? Some other combination of letters from the Greek alphabet? When I say that I’m not joining and that I prefer to remain unaffiliated, the conversation with some Greeks stops — but not abruptly.
First, there’s a purse of the lips, followed by a dismissal of any possibility of ever pursuing a friendship, and finally an encouragement to completely reevaluate my life decisions up to this point.
Despite shocking interactions like the one above, I can still appreciate the benefits that Fraternities and Sororities provide their members. No one can argue that the Greek community doesn’t do its fair share of charity work. Representing only 17 percent of the student body here at Carolina, the Greek Community executes more than 70,000 service hours and fundraises thousands of dollars through philanthropic events.
And of course, they enhance our social atmosphere and nightlife too.
But sometimes it seems like parts of the Greek community thrive under a false sense of superiority. Some Greeks make it seem as though students who don’t partake in Greek life are merely lesser commodities of the UNC student body — social outcasts. What justifies this mentality that I’ve encountered?
One explanation for the tension could be that I live in Granville Towers, where there is a significantly higher concentration of Greeks. This increases the pressure on Granville first years to join a fraternity or sorority.
Another perfectly plausible explanation for the unrest between some Greeks and non-Greeks is the pride that fraternity brothers and sorority sisters take in their organizations. Greeks invest a lot of time and a lot of money into their fraternities and sororities and their pride is understandable.
What’s not comprehensible is when this pride turns into condescension and spills over into everyday introductions, manifesting itself in the form of dismissive attitudes towards non-Greeks.
If I can respect and appreciate the Greek community for all that it offers our campus, then certainly the Greeks can empathize with my decision not to join. In my opinion, pledging a fraternity would be a “cheap” shortcut in navigating the student body to find friends with similar interests. For me, there is no single fraternity that encompasses all of my beliefs, goals, and ideals.
I also can’t justify spending up to $3,285 in order to belong to a circle of friends. In fact, this whole concept just seems outlandish and backwards to me. Since childhood, my parents stressed the importance of building friendships that occur naturally — not friendships that occur as a result of $3,285.
I shouldn’t feel ostracized by members of the Greek community just because the costs of joining — both monetary and personal — outweigh my expected benefits. Just as I respect those who decide to join fraternities and sororities, members of the Greek community should make an effort to understand the 83 percent of the student body that does not.
So purse your lips if you want, but I take pride in being a “GDI.”
Hinson Neville is a Freshman Perspective columnist for the Daily Tar Heel. He is a freshman business major from Roanoke Rapids. Email him at email@example.com.
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