Congratulations, new fraternity and sorority members! You got some foreign letters on your chest, big woop, wanna fight about it?
Actually, I don’t. I just want to say I hope you know what you’re in for. Having turned 22 a couple weeks ago, I consider myself experienced (don’t you dare say old) in the ways of college and especially in the ways of greek life.
Whereas my last column (for those who remember) was regrettably childish and poorly thought out, now I speak to all of you on a more positive note. Though I’ve been a fraternity member for three years, having just been through the rush process a fourth time, there’s no pedestal I’m standing on here.
But new faces to the greek system, male and female, should know being in a house is not all smiles, hugs and presents. Bradley University doesn’t tolerate hazing, but I’m confident you’ll have enough to face without being bent over, screaming “Thank you sir, may I have another!”
As a member of a fraternity or sorority, you will have to work to earn the respect of your new peers. What you get out of your house depends on what you choose to put in. And for those asking what letters this writer proudly wears, it really doesn’t matter. Each house is generous to those who take initiative.
Don’t be afraid to dive headlong into your new status as a member of the greek system. People did it before you and still continue to do it after graduation, believe it or not. Alumni donate to your house to keep it thriving, growing and improving. Trust me, your fraternity or sorority is bigger than you realize.
The pledge process should drive it home. You’ll learn about history, your values and how your letters probably weren’t chosen at random or because they sound good (although names like Chi Omega roll off the tongue quite nicely, quickly becoming smooth collegiate vernacular).
Take note of your board members like the one who teaches you the aforementioned material – I hesitate to call them “superiors” because you should demand the same respect as you give them. Holding a position is a great way to get involved, and your house probably won’t have elections for another month or two. Use that time to talk to people in your house and think about what you’d like to do. (Hint: go for a position even remotely relating to your major. Having coordinated a few wood-and-nails projects looks good on a construction major’s resume.)
Be tolerant, too. You’ll find out fast that you won’t like every single aspect of greek life. I personally hate the music played at social events, but I realize girls don’t really like to dance to The Velvet Underground or Wilco. All I can do is deal with it and repeatedly shout my request for “Paper Planes” by MIA.
Exercise tolerance, but don’t confuse it with patience. Patience may be a virtue, but my amazing girlfriend of seven months might be in the arms of someone else right now if I had been too patient. Similarly, you may regret waiting too long to get involved in your house.
I’m not writing this to rain on anyone’s parade – it looks like the weather is doing a good enough job of that as I type this out. Nobody likes a grouch, and I certainly don’t want to diminish the joy you’re feeling right now. I’d give anything to go back to that time, just once. But it will never come again for me. This is your time now. Relish it. Do with it what you will.
If you’ve picked up a high school paper in your life, you’ve read a standard “seize the day” column written at 1 a.m. on deadline. This isn’t one of those vague pieces.
Each and every one of you new members has a specific purpose now. Your target has been set before you. Don’t just shoot for it – light that thing on fire.
And remember nothing worth doing in life is effortless. Put every last drop of blood in your body into your fraternity or sorority experience, and you’ll see rewards you’ve never dreamed of.
Alex Bahler is a senior public relations major from Woodridge. He is the Scout Voice editor.
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