I’ve been in college for three years and I’ve seen my share of stuff that I don’t understand, mostly trendy things that involve a certain level of “cool” to comprehend. The greatest, and pinkest, of these is most certainly the Greek system. I’ve gone through a total of 6 rush seasons, lived in a dorm with multiple sorority girls, and even been to a couple of fraternity events, and yet I still have no idea what’s going on here.
In my mind, this all started when a group of wealthy southern college students decided they wanted to be apart of something that would allow them to wear eccentric patterns, pay lots of money, and be unnaturally tan, no matter the season. This, paired with the color khaki, an unsuspecting Greek alphabet and devastatingly large houses, gave birth to what we know as sororities and fraternities.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have friends in these organizations… I know and appreciate that they present the opportunity to form important connections, lifelong friendships, devastating debt, and liver issues. I don’t think they’re bad in the least. I just don’t understand them.
My sophomore year I was thrust into a fraternity at a school that I didn’t attend by one of my best friends who knew some of the members. My infiltration of this frat lead me to be invited to some of their functions, including multiple cocktails, which is a fancy word for “buy a nice dress, pregame a dinner you’re not even going to eat, and gyrate on the dance floor until 2am”, and something called a “rave” that I do not recommend anyone ever participating in (Picture: neon clad underage drunks sloshing around while seizure-inducing lights flash in the background). What happens at these events is the quintessential college experience, including free alcohol, loud music and unconscious, well-dressed individuals passed out in the most absurd places. Never have I ever experienced anything so sticky. Apparently the custom is to pour whatever alcohol your body does not consume onto the floor, making a delicious mixture of sticky, smelly floor-goo, causing it to be virtually impossible to ever re-wear the shoes you have on. They have parties almost every week, it seems, which I imagine is expensive, but funded by the arm and leg it costs to be a member. The girls get into these parties just because they’re girls, and boys try their hardest to get in because of all the girls. Mostly what I learned during my brief rendezvous with this frat was fashion advice my life was sorely lacking in, such as jeans aren’t an appropriate wardrobe option, a shirt isn’t a shirt without a collar, blazers aren’t worn to be ironic, and, most importantly, the appropriate length of men’s shorts has shortened without notifying me of this change.
In addition to this up close, anthropological observation of the Greek system, I have had a few other smaller interactions. Probably the most notable was the beginning of my Junior year when my three roommates dragged me along to a rush ice cream social. I would like to take a moment to say that I don’t know the purpose, difference or definition of the different sorority terms such as “pledging” “rushing” “big/little” and “monogram” but I do know that I enjoy ice cream, so I went along. I feel that it is also important to mention that I tried to attend this event in shorts and a tee-shirt but was made to change to fancy white pants and a shirt that wasn’t mine because I didn’t own one that was appropriate to eat ice cream in. Anyway, I was bamboozled. This “ice cream social” was far too social for my tastes. I was attacked with pink pieces of paper demanding I pick the sorority with the three triangles, or the one with a Z in the name. What came of the whole affair was me accidentally littering for lack of hand-space for all the pamphlets, my ice cream melting on me, and a monogrammed clad “sister” exclaiming, with far too much excitement, how much she just, like, looooved my shirt and demanding to know where I got it. Luckily, I drove to the event, so I was allowed to choose when we departed, which was as soon as possible.
The most interesting thing to me is how easy it is to pick out who among us is in one, mostly from what I can only assume is the universal uniform of the greek community. Name brands for days. Michael Kors, Coastal Tide, Chubbies, whatever the little pink whale is, and of course, the woman who I assume started this whole thing in the first place, Lilly Pulitzer. The way they wear these brands is a dead giveaway as well. Gone are the days where we buy clothes that are anywhere close to being the same size as our bodies. Oh, you’re a small? Here’s an extra large. That shirt barely covers your entire butt, you say? Here’s one that goes to your knees. Perfect.
I know I’m making fun, but these ladies actually deserve some kudos… if I were to wear a shirt 3 times my size I’d look like a homeless person who lost copious amounts of weight, yet these girls look prim and polished. It’s an art only taught if you make it past the ice cream social.
So here’s to boy’s shorts being too small and girl’s shirts being too large, secret handshakes, painting coolers, bowties, and fancy finger signs that look more complicated than calligraphy… a mystery that I will never understand but will continue to avoid and marvel at from a distance.