Greek Life 101
As a tour guide, I have noticed that complexities and mysteries of greek-life tend to give incoming students a wee-bit of anxiety. So I will help to provide a summary of the greek-membership joining process.
I personally think that everyone should give rush a chance. It is a great way to meet a ton of people and make new friends. With 19 fraternities and 16 sororities, there is a greek organization for everyone. But, at the same time, I am a strong believer that greek life is not for everyone, and there are HUNDREDS of other things to do on and clubs to join campus. Greek or not greek, Vanderbilt will bring you happiness for years to come.
You can not join a fraternity until the second semester of your freshman year (pending a 2.5+ gpa, three hours of community service and a few other things). For freshman males, rush begins the first day of the fall semester. During the first semester, it is your responsibility to go to rush meetings and events in order to meet upperclassman in fraternities. There is a great event called “open dores” were on a Sunday afternoon early in the semester, all fraternities open their doors for a few hours and allow anyone and everyone interested in rushing to come in and meet the brothers. This is a great way to meet brothers in different houses (and get free food of course). Take advantage of the first few months of school to explore your options. As the rush process goes on throughout the semester, you will find yourself gravitating to fewer and fewer fraternities that you are potentially interested in joining (maybe you like XYZ’s community service projects, or you are in a club with a bunch of ZYX’s). Whatever the reason, I would say everyone manages to find their fit. You can get a bid from one or several houses at the start of the spring semester, and then you must decide which house is best for you.
For transfer students, the same is true, except the process is a little sped up. Almost every fraternity takes new members in the fall, so the rush period tends to be from August-late September for Sophomores and Juniors.
I can’t really speak on behalf of sororities, but for girls I know that each sorority throws a philanthropy event in the fall semester (I think my a capella group sang at every one of them). Here, you can go support a good cause and meet girls in XYZ sorority. I believe they also have an “open dores” event as well sometime in the fall. Rush will then begin when you come back for the spring semester.
Like I said earlier, I think that everyone should give greek life a shot. But do not forget, there are HUNDREDS of other organizations to join at Vanderbilt besides greek ones. Anything you can imagine is a club at Vanderbilt, and if there is not a club that interest you, it is incredibly easy to make your own. I know a few friends who wanted to go hang-gliding, so they started a hang-gliding club. Anything is possible at Vanderbilt. But remember, just because you do not join a fraternity/sorority, does not mean you can not go to their events and have greek friends. You will befriend tons of people from all different backgrounds and interest at Vanderbilt, greek and non-greek.
Greek life has been a really important, exciting, and fun part of my Vanderbilt experience. So do not be afraid to give it a shot! I will leave you with a few last tips:
1. Don’t have “blinder” vision. Do not come to Vanderbilt only wanting to join fraternity/sorority XYZ because of reason 123. Be open and explore every sorority/fraternity to really find your fit.
2. Join organizations! This is a great way to meet upperclassman who might be in greek organizations you are interested in joining.
3. Be yourself! Seriously. Don’t rush just because “all of your friends are doing it”. Find things that excite you and you will find happiness.