If you’ve taken a peek at Yik Yak these past couple of weeks, or walked around huge hordes of girls on South Campus, or talked to anyone falling asleep in her four-inch heels, you have discovered the amazing phenomenon that is Greek life/frat/srat/rush/bid/recruitment/events/formals.
So! As a non-Greek student whose only finger-related poses consist of nerdy thumbs-up and rad peace signs, I have accumulated a nuanced language of communicating with those on the other side of the Greek divide.
1. Be a good friend.
Even though you may have heard about your friends’ new sisters/brothers for weeks now, be patient. They’re going through a really exciting time of their life right now, so say positive, life-affirming things when they ramble.
Omigosh there are three other girls in your pledge class who also are from New Jersey and love The Office? That is so perfect for you! – is a good example of a nice thing to say.
This also goes for people who didn’t get into the sorority/fraternity they wanted to. It’s rough getting rejected in general, especially for something you worked so hard for. So listen loads, especially if you’re close friends, and use more sincerity in your life-affirming compliments.
Instead of going with the old “You are cool and everyone loves you,” pop over to this compliment machine and check out thesaurus-level compliments. Telling someone he/she is “exquisitely astonishing” and “deliciously sublime” is incredibly meaningless but also silly and fun, and silly and fun is a good thing to be, especially if your friend isn’t feeling too great about the whole recruitment thing.
2. Keep it moving!
If you are so #done with talking about sororities and fraternities and all things Greek, direct the conversation to the obscurely intricate.
Examples include, but are not limited to, the evolution of Barack Obama’s foreign policy in a changing global climate, the expansion of technology in almost every facet of life, the amount of salt the Chicagoland area must purchase to keep those asphalt roads nice and crunchy, the exact metal composition of soda cans, the physiological and anatomical differences between crocodiles and alligators…
At this point, you may be wondering why you can’t merely talk about “normal” things such as food, sleep, classes, the weather, extracurriculars, plans for the weekend, sports, etc. And that is because all of those things somehow regress to the topic you seek to avoid – Greek life.
Take, for example, the weather, the safest go-to topic in all of Chicagoland. Imagine you and your gone-Greek roommate are walking to Tech, and for nine and a half minutes she’s been gushing about sorority life. You try to interject – just one aimless comment about the -85 degree “Real Feel,” just to see if you can change the subject, but to no avail. She immediately starts to recount her eight-hour days rushing from one sorority house to another, in a dress and sweatpants.
That’s a one-sentence conversion.
But if you decide to go the obscure topic route, you can get a two-sided conversation. Introduce the topic of Shakespearean influence on the modern English language, perhaps, and you can have a real-life, #soNorthwestern discussion!
Talk about getting the most out of your education.
3. Do more things.
The great thing about wintertime rush – for those of us not rushing – is that it comes right after all those New Year resolutions you just made. And now that your friends are all involved in Greek activities, you have time to pursue those goals on your own! Mosey on over to the gym, get swole, pour all your loneliness into your best lifting grunts. You could even join a club, which could introduce you to people outside your Greek friend group, and have life developments of your own to talk about.
Perhaps you could even do your reading for history, or apply to study abroad, or go to office hours…
Or just watch Netflix. Ten seasons of Friends await you, even if yours have moved into the frat/srat quad.
And so! All you non-Greek-lifers out there can also survive this socially draining experience of not-rushing. Just remember two things: be nice, keep the conversation flowing, and talk about your life, too. If you do those things well, you will keep your friends and be known as a quirky, fun person who has in-depth knowledge across a broad spectrum of topics, including the smash-your-head-in-the-wall drama involving Ross and Rachel.