Greek life from a GDI’s perspective

Why Greek life just isn’t for me

First, I want to make a disclaimer: This is my opinion. I know that there are many of you who have had the best years of your life while participating in Greek life. This is just why Greek life isn’t for me. I also realize that I do not look like a sorority girl (especially in this pic where I look seven months pregnant).

Coming into Penn State, the only thing I knew about Greek life was from what I learned from House Bunny, Old School and American Pie.

As much as these films dramatize frat and sorority life, ultimately a lot of what I saw in these films proved to be true from almost the moment I started my journey at Penn State.

Here’s how it looks from the outside, a “GDI,” looking in to the Penn State Greek life cult. Side note – just the fact that there is a nickname (GDI – God Damn Independent) for students that do not participate in Greek life is the first problem.

My first interactions with this new #SoFrat lifestyle came one of my first nights at my home away from home. There were the big mansion-sized houses lined with white pillars and large grassy lawns. And, of course, there were frat boy legs dangling from balcony ledges as they drank their Natty Light and listened to what seemed to be Pandora’s ‘Summer Hits of the 90’s’ playlist.

My roommate and I turned to each other, jaws slightly dropped. This was it. This was college. Ever since then, what seemed to be the majority of my college career would be centered around that perfect picture that my naïve freshman self saw on that summer night. And, although my first interaction was filled with hope and excitement, the rest to come ranged from sub-par to pretty awful.

As a freshman, Greek life pretty much overrules your every move, which is exactly what they thrive on. They’re exclusive. They’re hot. They’re above us. They decide if you can be friends with them and they decide if you can party with them.

And after quickly realizing this a few weeks in, I decided it was not the life for me.

Let me paint the picture for you. Hundreds of freshman girls leave what they called home for so long and come to Penn State, or any college for the sake of the matter, in hopes of finding themselves, their aspirations, and, most importantly, their sisters.

Because, after all, sorority life was a dream for them after hearing their alumni parents reminisce on their fond memories and seeing their alumni high school friends Insta pics of them squatting with matching tank tops or dancing on elevated surfaces.

But then I saw those dreams of my freshman friends get crushed when they found out they weren’t “top tier” material. That’s when I had had enough – because, as cheesy as it sounds, all of my friends are top tier to me. But for them, they had to settle, and be settled for.

What I don’t get about this process is that you go to meet each sorority participating in empty conversations that I can only imagine consisted of fashion choices and your newest obsessions with avocados and Lululemon (because you’re not allowed to talk about boys and partying).

And, you’re doing this all while uncomfortably dressed head-to-toe in your favorite picks from Metro downtown, competing in a some sort of messed up beauty contest.

But, the hardest thing to put my head around is having extremely limited time to decide if you want to spend the next four years being their best friends. A decision that, for me, is pretty huge. But, at the same time, the decision for them, is seemingly based solely off of your appearance.

Once you’re finally in, once you finally found the sisters or brothers of your dreams, your soul mates, and lifelong pals – you then have to pay for it. That’s right. You have to pay for your friends. That should be clear enough of a point as is. Where as I get to have as many friends as I want and all I have to pay them for is their leftover Wings Over that I accidentally ate late the night before, and maybe the electric bill.

And, it doesn’t stop there. You are then being quizzed on memorizing history, jingles, and names pertaining to your sorority/frat. You are being forced to attend events, and penalized when you don’t. You are being forced to be “sober sister” or “door man.” You have to earn your title. You have to earn your friendship (and again, then pay for it afterwards.)

We also have the infamous frat parties – the parties that become the blur that is your freshman year. Beer-filled floor, vomit-scented air, and endless sweaty boys trying to rub their bodies against yours – it really is a dream. Yet, it’s pretty much the only option and you have to make the best of it.

The living conditions surprisingly aren’t the problem – it’s the admission. You can’t just get into any frat party, because being part of the Penn State community just isn’t enough.

You have to be in a top-tier sorority, be gorgeous or have gorgeous friends, flash your boobs (also works at DP Dough), or sneak in through the back door (which I did at one frat for a few months until they fenced it up). Once you’re inside, you then have to fight your way through the same process to get a Natty Light – inevitably one of the truest virtues in life.

So, basically, what I’m saying is that Greek life isn’t for me, and it’s not for a lot of people. I’m not writing this to tell you not to join Greek life, because I know that there are a lot of positives to it. But we, as GDI’s, ultimately see it all in a different light.

From a GDI, female, junior:

“There’s 40,000 people here and 75 percent of them don’t care whatsoever about what sorority I’m in. It’s not high school. I have my own group of friends that I consider my ‘sisters,’ and I don’t need to pay to be a part of my friend group.”

From a GDI, male, senior:

“I just think Greek life is an organized system for upper class people to pay to make friends. To me, its ‘exclusivity’ doesn’t affect me because I don’t have a desire to participate. I feel like it’s full of people who have had everything handed to them and think they’re better than everyone, as if they can’t make friends any other way.”

Even some participants of Greek life have to admit that in some ways they live up to the GDI’s perception of them.

From a current Greek life participant:

“Well as a used-to-be GDI, I definitely had certain stereotypes before I joined Greek life. I felt like they hated on non-Greeks, conformed to their individual frat/sorority stereotype, etc. Now, I can definitely say that it comes down to the individual. Certain people validate the stereotypes and certain people don’t. The problem is when people let the stereotype consume them to the point where they’re not themselves anymore.”

And, finally, from an ex-sorority sister herself:

“Simply put: I don’t like Greek life. I don’t like the reasons why people join. I don’t like recruitment process and all the judgment that is necessary to find your “forever friends.” And I definitely don’t like the sense of entitlement that comes with it all. I believe the founders of these societies had good intentions, but I think the ideals of friendship and philanthropy got lost along the way. What we have now is a bunch of pretentious college kids that are more interested in their social status than anything else they’ll argue Greek life is good for.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

I realize that I’m spelling out everything you guys probably already know, but I think it’s too often disregarded. We go through college acting like this process and this hierarchy is completely normal, and it really shouldn’t be. It’s turned into a tradition celebrated in all the wrong ways and for all the wrong reasons.

So, in the eyes of us common folk, and maybe a few others, all of it just in general just appears to be a tiny bit fake, maybe slightly too preppy, and a little too high strung. I am certain that most of you who participate in Greek life are great people, but all of Greek life combined into one huge community, is just too much for me. Although I still get down at frats from time to time, there’s definitely no way I could pull off the whole Timbs and Vineyard Vines look anyway. But, you guys keep doing you.


With that, I’ll remember to wear a mask if I dare enter the doors to social suicide that is me intertwining with frat life. Just as long as I never have to hear that forever-lingering question, “Who do you know here?”

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