The Non-Greek Side of the Spectrum

Ladies and gents, boys and girls, family and friends - you've all been asking: "Which house did you join?!"

Here in Bloomington, the stretch of time between fall and spring semesters is not identified as "winter break", but rather has a much more animated title. It's Sorority Season. 

Personally, I never had much of an interest in going through recruitment. I grew up with three sisters, had a tightly knit group of girlfriends in high school, and was blessed with a floor of hilarious and grounded young women. I felt that I didn't need a sorority because I didn't need to add to the mix of things. I was very busy, involved, and had all my ducks in a row. However, I decided to go through the recruitment process anyway because that's what freshman girls at IU do during Sorority Season

Recruitment is quite the process at IU. With meetings at 6:30 am, and Rush from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm or later, it takes a lot of snacking, patience, and hand-warmers to survive the 4-round (6 day) system. These days include following a decently strict outfit requirement, huddling together for warmth, and speed dating the girls in the houses. On average, you spend ~5 minutes talking to the girls. 

I didn't have a hard time holding conversation with the girls in the sororities whatsoever. However, making meaningful conversation that stood out in both your mind and theirs was the name of the game. This is where things got a little interesting. Girls asked me:

  • Where I'm from/where I went to high school
  • Why I decided to go through recruitment
  • What I was looking for in a sisterhood
  • What my major was
  • What I was passionate about (These were always my favorite houses)
  • What my Dad does for a living
  • How much land my family owned in Zionsville

Now, I may not be an expert on the recruitment process or sorority life, but I'm almost certain that a house based on what everyone's Dad's do for a living may not be the most sincere of friendships. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems to me that asking someone how much land they have is a bit pretentious before they knew my personality. Of course not all of my experiences were negative. There were absolutely moments, days, and houses that made me feel that I belonged there. But, even the houses that I loved taught me things about myself. I learned that:

  • There is nothing wrong with being more comfortable in co-ed friend groups! In fact, it makes for a more dynamic circle and presents you with more opportunity to grow! Sisterhood is wonderful, but general humanity is pretty cool too. 
  • I'm a big fan of personal space. In most chapter houses, you don't have your own bedroom or day room. It's all girl, all the day long, all night long, all college long. That is great for some people, but not if you like to do your own thing or spend some time by yourself. 
  • Philanthropy is awesome and is insanely important to me. Obviously, I should've seen this coming. I'm a Nonprofit Management major and an Engagement Scholar. But still, hearing the girls talk about the good they do for the community was inspiring and really helped me solidify and qualify my passions.
  • When they say it's not for everyone, they're not lying. While going through the recruitment process, I fell in love with some houses. I thought that the young women that lived there were down to earth, wonderful, funny, an passionate people. All of this is true!

​However, just because I enjoyed my time there does not mean that I belong there. I am an independent operator. I like to stay in on the occasional Friday night, or go to a house show in a crumbling basement, or spend an extra few hours at work hanging out with kids instead of hitting a basketball game. But more than this, I like to do these things without being required to be elsewhere, feeling pressured by friends to do what they're doing, or worse- being reprimanded for it. I enjoy my freedom in college! This is the last stretch in our lives to do whatever we want (within reason, obviously). And if I want to do random things and be in charge of who my friends are- by golly, I'm gonna do it.

Now, don't get me wrong. The Greek network at IU is something to be proud of, and I am so grateful for my recruitment experience. I gave it my all, and believe it or not, I was inches away from joining a chapter! I'm actually the only one of my friends that chose not to be in a house. But, though all of my friends are in houses and loving it, though I do feel like the odd-ball for dropping recruitment, I am also proud of myself for sticking to my guns. Feeling left out during Bid-Week is not-so-fun, but designing my own college experience and having a diverse group of friends is much more rewarding in my eyes. Lastly, there's a weird non-greek shame that comes with dropping recruitment, and that needs to change. Don't shame others for wanting a different lifestyle!

So, ladies and gents, boys and girls, family and friends- I have my answer for you! 
I'm making my own house.   

About The Author
Michelle LongAdvocate for Community Engagement

I'm Michelle, and I am a Cox Engagement Scholar and an ACE (Advocate for Community Engagement) for the University. I'm studying a plethora of cool stuff including Policy Analysis and Spanish, eat Pop Tarts on the daily, and love IU!