As a society, we often form opinions based on what we have or haven’t heard from the news in the United States. It seems natural to look to these authorities while taking on a difficult decision, but can college students trust the TV when fraternity and sorority rush season rolls around?
A simple google search for “College Greek Life News” turns up 1,010,000 results, with big brand companies like NBC, USA Today and US News all sharing their stance while claiming impartiality. More recently, the death of Beta Theta Pi pledging member, Timothy Piazza, at Penn State in November of 2017 caused a surge of sororities and fraternities to make headlines. Tragic stories like Piazza’s create an outlet for those who curse the existence of Greek life.
The old adage “no news is good news” however, points to a possible problem in the representation of all of the Beta Theta Pis, Alpha Phis, and so on throughout the US. Charitable acts and life-bonds rarely make for front page stories, and while their main goal may be to share the utmost truth, few news companies can survive without stories that sell.
Each and every spring at UVa since the founding of Delta Kappa Epsilon in 1852, many students go into the Greek life rush process filled with biases presented to them by news reporters and anchors who may be double their age. That degree of separation and the bombardment of potentially unbalanced facts can lead students to spout the words of others and forget to listen to their own.
So should we stop listening to the founders, the fanatics and those who seemingly speak for us all? Should UVa students accept that rush, like college itself, is an inherently individual experience that is neither wholly bad nor wholly good? When deciding where we stand, can we only truly trust the opinions of our peers, our equals, and those who have no motive, no detachment, and (thanks to anonymity) no reason to lie?
Here is the real unadulterated and unfiltered report on the Greek life rush experience according to 100 UVa first years:
Of those who took the survey:
- 57 % participated in sorority rush
- 20 % participated in fraternity rush
- 23 % did not participate
- 45 % knew of 1-5 people who dropped out before bid day
- 27 % knew of 5-10 people who dropped out before bid day
- 17 % knew of more than 10 people who dropped out before bid day
- 12 % of those who participated cited enjoyment as their main takeaway
- 20 % of those who participated cited stress as their main takeaway
- 30 % of those who participated cited an equal mix of stress and enjoyment
When asked to predict participants responses:
- 0.2 % of those who DID NOT participate anticipated enjoyment to be the main takeaway
- 28 % of those who DID NOT participate anticipated stress to be the main takeaway
- 13 % of those who DID NOT participate anticipated an equal mix of stress and enjoyment
Fun, enjoyable, people oriented, networking, wonderful, exciting, socializing, fruitful, most fun ever, talkative, good beer, family, community, and adventure
Cutthroat, overwhelming, stressful, exhausting, worst experience ever, anxious, unfair, superficial, hectic, sad, fake, poorly planned, petty, discriminatory, rigged, sexist, shallow, degrading, and time consuming
Something else to consider:
- 70 % said that rush affects those who do not participate
- Of those 70, responses as to how it affects non-participants included:
“Hard”, “Out of the loop”, “Lonely”, “Hearing complaints”, “Losing friends”, “Judged”, “Seeing stress and worry of friends”, “Loud noises late on weeknights”, “RAs have excess work as a result”, “Creates a divide”, “Takes over everything.”
- 50 % considered rush to be “worth it”
- 30 % did not consider rush to be “worth it”
- When given free reign to add anything else, responses were quite mixed, ranging from “rush sucks”, “it really hurt a lot of people”, and “it’s racist” to “I would encourage everyone to rush”, “I had a great experience” and “I loved rush.”
There seem to be more ups and downs to the rush experience than the local anchorman or Aunt Sue may lead on. What do you think?