Disclaimer: This piece is in no way trying to discredit the hard work and dedication that people put into joining and participating in sororities and fraternities.
Before I entered college my image of sororities and fraternities was constructed from scenes in the movies Drumline, Road Trip and House Bunny, all of course are dramatizations, but at least I got the general sense. Joining a sorority was never completely off the table until I got to college. I went to college in the city and my school, in particular, was not at all that popular for its Greek life. At NYU, less than 10 percent of students belonged to sororities/fraternities. Yet, even with such a low membership percentage I didn't want to fully rule it out.
Freshman year was, of course, the time to easily persuade me. At the club fair, sorority sisters pitched their respective sorority. Still, I was never fully sold. One day while at one of the dining halls, a girl that was sitting next to me prompted a conversation. She introduced herself, asked me about me and we exchanged contact information. Who doesn't want more friends their freshman year? She then texted me and invited me to events. I might have attended one and quickly clued into the fact that she was in a sorority. Later, she would invite me to coffee, to other campus events and to parties with her friends. I almost always declined, not because I thought she was recruiting me, but because I stopped having time. After that joining a sorority began to lose its appeal. I had started making friends by other means and felt it would require too much effort on my part.
Nevertheless, there's always the, but maybe if I went to a school with a campus where being in sorority/fraternity was merited as cool, I would inevitably join one. The thing is, I've thought about the "what ifs" and I'd still postulate that I would not join a sorority. For me, there were one too many reasons to not join that had nothing to do with the type of college I attended. The first and foremost reason is that I'm utterly a loner. Don't get me wrong, I have lots of friends and I'm very sociable when I want to be. At the same time, I also like to retreat into the comforts of my own solitude and being in any way obligated to spend time with someone would drive me insane. Put simply, I decide when I want to hang out with you and not the other way around. Being in a sorority, there is a pressure to attend, commit and even stay in communication with your sisters. If I want to hide in a cave for a month why can't I? Loners are just not meant to be in member-only organizations.
There's also the "we're better than you" complex or, as my friend and I put it, the "it's us against you" dilemma. First off, why must I feel like we can't speak unless I'm a part of your group? This is completely different when you're spending time with just one or two people that belong to a sorority/fraternity. But, the minute you're spending time with an entire group of sisters or brothers... you might as well disappear because you're pretty much invisible to them. The feeling is similar to being a third wheel, you feel awkward being there and you're not exactly sure when to make your smooth exit. These kinds of situations are best avoided.
Then there's the drama, any group of friends, sorority/fraternity or not brew some type of drama. It's not like drama doesn't exist regardless, it's just that once you're in a sorority/fraternity you've technically signed up for some "excitement." In the contract to join a sorority/fraternity I believe there's a statement that reads, "You're a sister/brother, no matter how dramatic and unbearable things get, tough luck, you should have known." Please don't quote me on that. I mean, if you know this and you're up for the cause, then more power to you. I, on the other hand, would politely opt out. Also, what if there's a person in my sorority I don't necessarily like? Am I obligated to like this person because she's my "sister"? "I would prefer not to," said Bartleby.
Obviously, there's a big question looming: What do I know? I've never even been in a sorority, so how could I possibly understand what really goes on? My answer to that is: I don't know. This is obviously based on my observations, what I've been told and the encounters I've had at fraternity/sorority-type functions. I get that there are many networking opportunities. There are seriously profound and rewarding community service projects. There is a familial sisterhood/brotherhood that many find appealing. I'm probably painting it all with a broad stroke and might have missed the bigger picture. Nevertheless, before entering college, Greek life looked like fun, best friends forever, and a future cool job that my sorority sister helped me get, and then it became something else. It became a clique, it became forced and the only thing I thought it would do for me is strip me of the slight independence and autonomy I felt I had earned.