I went into rush week last January in the same way a conscientious objector might charge into battle. That is, I was not about to jump headlong into a process about which I was aware but not particularly enthusiastic. I was more or less indifferent to Greek life from the moment some prospective student needled my tour guide about its prevalence on campus. It never seemed to factor into my image of my life at Northwestern, and throughout Fall Quarter freshman year this state of mind was only reinforced by how satisfied I had become with campus life up to that point. In fact, had a friend not convinced me to come along for the first night of rush, I probably would’ve let the whole process slide by the wayside altogether with no more concern than if I had missed the El.
But as I went along from fraternity to fraternity and eventually to an off-campus party, the prospect of getting excited about pledging felt about as possible to me –- a Seattle Mariner fan, through thick and thin -– as sitting in the bleachers of Wrigley Field and lustily cheering on the Cubs. “Why do it?” I thought. Just because both happen to be there?
I couldn’t muster up the slightest bit of enthusiasm for the ordeal. The value I placed on my independence and mobility far outweighed any willingness to sacrifice those things -– even in the smallest capacity -– to an organization that not only would demand my whole-hearted devotion, but also my time and money. Not to mention the guilty-by-association factor: By belonging to the organization, my reputation might end up being tied to the actions of that organization’s (ahem) least upstanding member.
But neither my valued independence nor my reluctance to have a score of other guys effectively co-sign on how others might view me were the most persuasive factors in my decision. The factor that most bolstered my choice not to rush was my belief that joining a fraternity wasn’t necessary to preserve or enhance the fun of college. I knew that if I rushed, pledged, and joined I would merely be electing to travel down one possible path -– a path not guaranteed to provide me with anything I couldn’t already provide myself.
Just as Greek life is probably an experience unlike any other, so is living off-campus or studying abroad or throwing oneself headlong behind any other organization or interest. For me to have gone Greek without a reason would have been to succumb to a popular delusion and sell myself short. I found that in going with my gut, and not simply going along, I was able to have as complete and unfettered a life at Northwestern as I could have wanted.