By AUSTIN FRALEY
It’s springtime and recruitment is in the air. From new people wearing letters to extremely loud circle-ups, it’s unavoidable to notice. For some, it’s a time that brings people together, and for others, a time that tears them apart.
For many independents, this is one of the most annoying times of the year, though they often can make it one of the most enjoyable by poking fun at Greek life and its concept as a whole. Whenever anyone talks to an independent about Greek life, they can expect to hear a plethora of opinions about it including, “I don’t want to be part of a system that excludes people just because of their personality” and probably the most famous, “I’m not going to pay for my friends.”
While I am going to admit that I myself am independent, and there are valid criticisms of Greek life (which I obviously agree with, or I would not be independent), I don’t believe that these are the most well-thought of them. In fact, many independents I know fail to recognize the very real benefits of Greek life, such as community and activities. They write them off as fake, which (though they can sometimes be, but are not always) becomes just as divisive and judgmental as the system which they believe they are speaking out against.
The problem that I see more than any other is that it almost seems taboo to be independent from any perspective other than the independent perspective. When I was a freshman, I was flooded with e-mails begging me to go through recruitment, and every time I ignored one, it seemed another came. This is due largely to what seems to be an outsider’s perspective of a lack of community among independents themselves. While Greeks can play intramurals and host events that bring them together, it seems that independents cannot or do not. The problem is not that they don’t, but that it isn’t seen as that big of a deal precisely because they are independent. The independent men even got best male performance at Songfest last year. However, the Greek performances are remembered more, because for them, it is a competition. Everyone knows that it doesn’t matter as much to the independents whether or not they win, so they don’t care that much about competing with them. This is the same reason that when independents win in intramurals, it doesn’t seem to be as big of a deal. The community exists, but it remains unseen by the larger community.
This is all in contrast with the way I saw campus as a freshman. I wanted to remain independent, but felt pressured from everyone to rush. While I do now believe that rush is something people should at least try, I did not rush then. After I didn’t, I felt somewhat alone, because of the worldview that many (not all) Greeks had unintentionally given me. In their view, independents are their namesake alone. It was only later that I found this not to be true. The problem is that Greeks who had given me this perspective never found this out. There is always pressure from them to become Greek. I often heard conversations that would begin “It’s okay to be independent, but,” and would be followed by a barrage of reasons why it was not.
I’m writing this to say that, in a time of recruitment and rush, if you want to be independent, it’s okay. You will have friends. You will be able to be involved. You won’t be a loser. It’s okay. There’s no reason it isn’t. It’s okay, period.