Going Greek

    In your first few days of the new academic year, there are many decisions to make. OVT or Pines for lunch? UCSD Bookstore or Amazon? And the question that will seem most pressing while walking down Library Walk — to go Greek or not?

    Choosing to rush a fraternity or sorority is a decision that will inevitably affect your college experience. And whether you need to make this decision as a freshman or if you’re an upperclassman looking for more out of your college years, there are a few things to know about the process and what to expect. That’s why the Guardian sat down with several campus Greek leaders on campus to see what they had to say about the process.

    Rushing a Frat

    Fraternity rush is notorious for being very laid-back at UCSD. Unlike sororities, Frats don’t sing songs at their rush events, don’t wear matching outfits and they don’t hand you mocktails. Unlike formal sorority rush, fraternities hold informal recruitment events like broom ball games or pizza at Round Table. UCSD’s Interfraternity Council (IFC) President Chris Chang explained that rushing a frat can be a great experience regardless of whether you decide to ultimately join.

    “Rush week is the most fun because you just go out and meet different fraternities,” Chang said. “You get free stuff and free food. You talk about life and your goals in college.” After attending a few events, rushees can decide which frats they like the most and commit more time to their events. Chang explains that it’s a mutual selection process between the fraternity and the rushee, which is designed to create the best match.

    “I truly think there is a fraternity for everyone,” Chang said. “That’s the whole point of having 13 different fraternities. We don’t want a cookie cutter mold for every single one of our members.”

    The IFC president understands that Greek life isn’t for everyone, but encourages campus involvement for all students.

    “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” Chang said. “You realize ‘Oh, I didn’t want to spend that half hour eating free food or meeting new people.’ Be part of our community because too many people sit at home because they’re not involved. You don’t want to spend four years of your life paying this much money to not get the most out of it.”


    Choosing whether to drink alcohol is something all college students face. And although alcohol may be accessible in many different situations on campus, greek life is most often associated with parties. At the end of the day choosing to drink is the choice of the individual but going greek may create more opportunities for alcohol consumption.

    “Incoming greeks have to take an alcohol abuse class,’ Chang said. “ I actually think it’s a good thing because a lot of freshman come in with an excuse to just go crazy because they’ve never been able to [drink] before and I think greeks have seen a lot. So I think freshman are in good hands [with greeks.]”

    But Chang foresees eventual change in the greek system.

    “A lot of our fraternities are starting to realize that the old model is not working and that the old model is inviting girls over and partying,” he said. “The whole culture of binge drinking and hazing is kind of the lazy way of doing things.”

    Regardless, knowing your limit when it comes to alcohol is an important skill to have because temptations are likely to present themselves in the form of a red cup during your time here at UCSD.


    Hazing for the sake of bonding is often associated with Greek life. Whether hazing actually occurs in Greek life or within other organizations is, well, hazy. It’s something people will not admit to or condone — what goes behind closed doors remains a mystery. What we do know is that Greek organizations and leaders officially forbid hazing, and if an incident surfaces, the organization can face a lot of trouble.

    “Fraternities are not allowed to haze and I would see no benefit trying to instill certain beliefs [through hazing],” Sigma Phi Epsilon Chapter President Allan Cortes said. “I think a fraternity should aim toward developing a member right from the beginning he joins until he graduates.”

    Chang pointed out that although hazing may exist at other universities, UCSD and IFC have very strict rules concerning hazing.

    “Greeks obviously go hand-in- hand with hazing because of the stereotypes, and occasionally an article pops up about an incident,” Chang said. “We have a no-hazing policy and if IFC were to find out about it, the chapter would be immediately suspended and their nationals would be contacted. Basically, the house would collapse.”

    People put into what seems to be a forced, uncomfortable activity have every right to refuse and report the incident whether it occurs within Greek life, or in any other organization on campus.

    Rushing a Sorority

    Unlike the laid-back approach of fraternities, sorority recruitment is high-energy, high-stress and all-around chaotic. Whether you’re rushing freshman or senior year, this process is inevitably going to be intimidating because rushees are often given little to no insight into the rush process prior to entering their first “party.”

    Parties last anywhere from about 20 to 90 minutes, and each rushee will attend nine on the first day of visiting every UCSD chapter. As you realize which chapters you like and which chapters like you, the number of parties you attend each day will decrease until you are left with a bid from the sorority you can soon call home.

    It’s clear that the girls behind recruitment put a lot of time and effort towards this process and they seem to have it down pat, but that doesn’t mean their singing and dancing won’t initially scare you. They’ll show you slide shows. They’ll snap a lot. But at the end of the day they’ll want to know more about you so that every girl finds the chapter that suits them best. If you’re on the edge about rushing the best way to figure out if it’s right for you is to go through recruitment because there is no greater indicator that you’ll enjoy sorority life than if you can make it through the week- long process. And if you don’t like it, there’s no harm in dropping out and finding other extracurriculars. You wouldn’t be the first girl to do so.

    Greek Image

    Greek life is a facet of college that many people already have opinions about. Whether you already know that you absolutely want to be involved or want to avoid it at all costs, there are some things about Greek life that can’t be entirely understood based on hearsay or stereotypes. Those involved seem to love it and those that are not a part of it have varied opinions of indifference, jealousy and dislike. Cortes thinks that Greeks are viewed in an unfairly negative light on campus.

    “Overall and at UCSD especially, Greek life is not as prevalent or promoted in a positive way so, in a sense, Greek life has a negative connotation with partying, hazing and drinking,” Cortes said. “I disagree with this completely.”

    Pi Kappa Alpha chapter President David Ianacone agrees that the image of Greek life on campus is negative and portrayed in a stereotypical fashion. He admits to being turned off to the idea of it his first year on campus, only to rush later on in his college career.

    “It’s socially mediocre [at UCSD] in general and people think the Greek system is a huge drinking club basically,” he said. “That’s the feeling I get and when I talk to people that rush they say that’s what they thought and once they rush or get in, it’s completely different.”

    Ianacone thinks that overlooking these stereotypes and giving Greek life a chance is the best way to see what it’s really like.

    “I feel like from the outside it might look like what we do is have parties because that’s what people hear about,” Ianacone said. “It’s not all about social events. It’s about guys and girls collectively working toward common goals.”


    Unlike most traditional college campuses, Greeks at UCSD do not have housing on or near campus. There have been proposals for creating a fraternity row, but no such developments have been made.

    The silver lining to the lack of housing is that it cuts financial costs for Greeks by a lot. Registering for sorority rush costs $40 dollars, and once a member, there are quarterly fees that range from about $200 to $600 depending on the chapter. Greek fees are much higher at most other universities.

    “Just like with school there are financial aid options,” Interfraternity Council (IFC) President Chris Chang said. “The thing about that is a lot of different schools pay a hefty amount and I see it more as an investment in the future. To pay a year’s worth of dues to be a part of something for your life, I think that’s a pretty good experience.”

    The lack of a frat row creates a less formal space for recruitment, which may be less intimidating for the rushees. Financial aid options are available for those that think they can’t pay their dues. Chang says that his fraternity does not turn down members who are unable to pay.

    Professional and Multicultural

    In addition to IFC and Panhellenic Greek organizations, UCSD also offers many professional and multicultural chapters that add a bit more to traditional Greek life. Although members also sport Greek letters and hold many social events, professional and multicultural fraternities and sororities are meant for people with common niches such as their cultural background or professional aspirations. Being in a pre-law or pre-med fraternity (which are often co-ed) creates a support system of those that have similar interests to the rushee as well as a long list of potential study buddies. Multicultural fraternities and sororities are ideal for those seeking brotherhood and sisterhood based on their personal and familial backgrounds.


    If going Greek doesn’t appeal to you there are so many other student organizations on campus that there are bound to be a few that seem right for you. Information about clubs, orgs, teams and more will literally overflow library walk during the first few weeks of school and websites like solo.ucsd.edu are always available with a list of all registered student organizations. Seriously, you name it, UCSD has it. There’s taiko drumming, several magazines and newspapers all of different styles, cultural organizations and clubs created to help students with their professional endeavors. It may seem cheesy but getting involved on campus is truly the best way to get the most of your time and money while here at UCSD.

    For more information on going Greek visit tritongreeks.org

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