Griffith: Rushing and Relevance

by Evan Griffith | 9/21/14 4:38pm

To the Class of 2017:

When I was a freshman back in September 2011, I stumbled across a column in The Dartmouth titled “An Open Letter” by Jacob Batchelor ’12. It was addressed to the Class of 2015. “Over the course of the next four (or five) years,” he predicted, “almost everything you think, know, feel and believe in will undergo radical transformations ... you will change your major, life plan, sexual orientation and friend group at least five times each.” Though I dismissed his “radical” claims at the time, I have since found that a number of his predictions were indeed correct.

While so much about my life has changed that I thought never would, the one thing that I thought would change never actually did: my (lack of) Greek affiliation.

My story started the same as that of most Dartmouth freshmen. I had little exposure to Greek life before Dartmouth and wasn’t even sure I wanted to be part of it. Yet I found a certain adrenaline rush to shmobbing with my buddies over to frat row and exploring the scene. I was definitely a little apprehensive at first, but I eventually found myself hanging out at a couple of fraternities on the weekends. I looked forward to sophomore year — rushing would be awesome! I imagined what it would be like to be a brother, and how awesome my Greek life would be. Sweet, sweet social relevance.

Sophomore year arrived. My friends and I all talked about where we wanted to rush and how cool we thought our respective houses were. I couldn’t wait to be affiliated — that is, until I was actually offered the opportunity. There were two houses that I was interested in. My chances with one house ended up going south and I was devastated. The other house did offer me an opportunity to pledge. I still remember being approached by two brothers, being told that they wanted me to join their brotherhood. In some ways it was an amazing feeling. Acceptance. But I knew deep inside that maybe this wasn’t for me. After all, I would need to miss one of the first important fraternity events because of a mandatory rehearsal scheduled weeks before that I had organized. Maybe it was a sign.

In the end, I politely refused the offer. At first I felt smug, but it soon started to dawn on me that this series of rejections (from both ends) might have cost me more than I had expected. Was my college social life ruined? Would I never go to any parties, hold any leadership positions, get any jobs? Was I suddenly ... socially irrelevant?

Maybe not. Fast forward to senior year. I am currently the president of two prominent campus organizations, and spend my days doing what I love. I hold two jobs on campus, and have had multiple internship experiences ranging from investment to talent management. I have connected with so many amazing professors, mentors, alums and other students during my time at Dartmouth. I have learned and grown profoundly. I also have become friends with some amazing people from all around campus (particularly at a non-Greek house I joined called Amarna). Do I still engage with Greek life? Definitely. Some of my go-to college stories take place in a Greek house. In fact, I’m in the middle of helping plan a Greek social as I write.

All of this is not to say that I have “risen above” the antics of Greek life. I think the Greek system has many merits, and if you want to rush, go for it. Just remember that the glorified process of rush can take some turns you won’t expect. These are not necessarily wrong turns. Moreover, I hope to dispel the notion that the unaffiliated are socially irrelevant. In fact, I have found that being unaffiliated allows me to engage freely with more social spheres and pursue more diverse leadership opportunities. Whether you end up joining a Greek house or not, get ready for the time of your life. No matter which route you go, one thing won’t change: the opportunity to self-actualize and take full advantage of the amazing years ahead.

Evan Griffith '15 is a guest columnist.