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To Pledge or Not to Pledge?

I recall thinking about college all the time when I was younger. Penn State was the only choice (of course), however there was always the question of whether or not I would join a frat.

Looking back, it was a logical choice based on how college was portrayed to me through the media — mainly Lambda, Beta, and of course Delta houses. I understood college was not exactly like that, but as I got closer to leaving, pledging seemed like a more realistic idea. Personally, my whole family was essentially Greek, including members of D Chi, Phi Sig, Theta, and also the discontinued D K Phi. I was excited to join and continue the legacy at one of these (minus Theta of course).

Then I got into Altoona.

While branch campuses do have some Greek life activity, I came to realize it was not for me. When I would stay at Bigler on the weekends at main campus, I came to see how fraternities — and Greek life as a whole — really worked. While it may be a good fit for some people, I realized that being in a frat was not for me. But who knows, maybe a fraternity/sorority is for you. So in honor of rush week I comprised a small list of pros and cons to look over and decide for yourself.

Pros

  • Parties – Joining a Greek organization allows for some of the most fun someone can possibly have in college. While most GDIs only attend these as freshman, as the great Tucker Max once said, “Going to a college frat party is like shooting fish in a barrel in terms of getting laid.” But if that doesn’t float your boat, you can still have fun dancing all night and playing pong. As a guy, it is damn near impossible to get in (exceptions include secret back doors, girls who you convince to be your date, and friends at the door; the hell if I’m ever paying for a wristband), so becoming a part of a fraternal organization can help bypass these complications as well.
  • Gear – While some may not be fans, I personally love Greek gear. It may be expensive, but it is one of the most worn clothing options on campus.
  • Alcohol/other substances – If you’re underage, having older brothers/sisters in your org is a huge plus in terms of obtaining alcoholic beverages or other things, you know, if you’re into that.
  • Résumé – While many associate being Greek with being stuck-up, it still looks great on a résumé, which is also increased by the fact that you attend a highly rated Greek life/party school such as Penn State. My friend obtained a job this past year because his boss was a brother of the same organization. But mainly if someone can juggle schoolwork well with an extracurricular as demanding as Greek life, it is a huge plus.
  • Family – When one becomes Greek, they get their own Big, and eventually Little. These families are built on years and years of the same types of people you personally get along with, so it’s like getting to actually pick your own family.
  • Girls/Guys – Traditionally the guys and girls who are associated with Fraternities and Sororities are pretty damn hot. Now looks are not everything, but if that’s your thing, go for it.
  • Tradition – Every society comes with there own traditions and secrets. Being a part of rituals and ideals that have passed from generation to generation can be considered one of the most intriguing things about becoming Greek. Also carrying on family tradition is another cool concept when considering to rush.

Cons

  • Time Consuming – One of the biggest complaints I always hear from people who drop, and those who have not, is that it takes up too much damn time. Members are put on strict schedules, told what to do and where to go for a large part of the week, and barely get any free time (ex. Hell Week for new members).
  • Persona – If you’re in a frat, you’re perceived as this. Sororities as this.
  • Money – Although a lot of people’s parents pay their fees, being a member can cost a shit load of money.
  • Other People – The specific society you join can reflect how you come off. Beyond that, you may be stuck with the same people for the rest of your college career, which may suck if you do not like a lot of them.
  • Parties – While I have many fond memories of frat parties, they are without a doubt disgusting. The bathrooms, dance floors, hallways, rooms, and everything else gets trashed at during these events. One time, I saw a kid piss in the middle of the dance floor, true story. Which leads to…
  • Hazing Chores – While some frats/sororities may be harsher than others on their new members, generally being a new member means you get the bitch work. This sucks primarily for guys, because they might have to clean up the house after parties, or indulge in being the DD for the night, which is never a fun thing to do up here in State College.

Now I understand that there are several Greek Organizations that have pristine records and do a lot more than just party all the time, and the amount that they do for IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon is incredible. Whatever you choose though, make sure you have fun with it.

Special thanks to everyone in and out of Greek Life that help create the memories and topics for this article. Kind of makes me miss freshman year.

About the Author

Matt Westlake

Toona '12. Main '14. Creamery for life.

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