This is the time of year where students on my campus are participating in fraternity and sorority recruitment and receiving bids, or failing to receive bids, from Greek organizations on campus. Although I did not participate in this process as a student, I have observed the process on my own campus for the past 9 years, and seen it on other campuses for a decade longer than that. Each year I see both the joy and emotional turmoil that the process creates in students, both those being recruited and those doing the recruiting. There are things that I observe each year and after repeated conversations with hundreds of students about Greek recruitment, I offer these hopefully helpful and humble bits of advice for students involved.
- Always remember that you may not get the bid you want and that you may not get a bid at all. The process is exclusive, just like applying for colleges and scholarships. Exclusivity, in and of itself, is not wrong, but it can be painful. Manage your expectations. If getting ZERO bids is the most frightening thing you can imagine, then you probably have too much skin in the game. Don’t stake your entire college experience on getting a bid!
- Be yourself. Don’t suck up and don’t answer questions the way you think someone wants you to answer them. Be honest, truthful, confident, and friendly. Never compromise who you are in what you say or what you do. No bid is worth that. You do not want to be part of an organization that doesn’t want you for who YOU are. Represent yourself, your family, and your faith consistently and fairly and then don’t worry about the consequences. You can always live with the consequences of doing right in God’s eyes. In the end, His opinion matters more than anyone’s.
- Realize that formal recruitment activities are a kind of game. People have a tendency to say what they think you want to hear, and people have a tendency to hear what they want to hear. Don’t mistake small talk for hard-and-fast promises. In the crunch time of decision-making, people change their minds, make irrational decisions, and sometimes flat-out make mistakes. Don’t let what you hear in conversation build up your hopes or expectations. Let the process play out in its own time.
- You are not the sum total of your bids. If you get multiple bids or get none, you are no better and no worse a person than you were before you started the process. Your identity as a person need not be altered by whether or not the organization of your choice chooses you.
- Nobody can make you feel bad about yourself without your permission. Greek organizations make choices on the basis of criteria that are not usually public. Sometimes those criteria are objective (GPA, legacy connections, your interest and participation in the process) and sometimes they are subjective (your appearance, your personality, your social connections). Organizations have to decide who fits and who doesn’t, and fit can be a subjective thing in any organization. You are who you are, be confident in that, and don’t let recruitment shake your confidence.
- Decide now that you won’t let recruitment change you in negative ways. Some get rejected and get bitter, and that clouds their perception of people, organizations, and universities for years to come. Some get accepted and immediately change their social connections, rearranging friendships, social engagements, or campus ministries to fit a new set of perceived expectations from their affiliation. Both responses are silly, immature, and honestly un-Christlike.
- If you are offended in the process, forgive! People are human and will make mistakes. Sometimes organizations collectively make mistakes, and this includes not only Greek organizations but also campus ministries. As a campus minister, I’ve had to apologize for harm done by organizations that I lead. Greek organizations will make mistakes and those mistakes will sometimes hurt people. If you are one of those people, talk to someone, reach out, and help leaders improve the process. If you are a Samford student, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org to register your concerns. But know that if you refuse to forgive, the bitterness that builds in you ultimately harms you the most.
- If you get the exact bid you want and everything goes your way, congratulations! Now use your affiliation to do good. Be a loyal member, be humble, give to your philanthropy, support your organization, use your influence to make things better, and live your letters. Avoid petty rivalries, refuse to participate in unwise behaviors, and do not conform to the stereotypes that would reshape your fundamental identity. Represent Christ well to those in your organization and outside of it. Make the most of every opportunity the privilege brings you.
In conclusion, remember that Greek membership is only one of many opportunities to get involved on campus. If you receive a bid, your affiliation with a Greek organization should add dimension to your campus experience but not be the only thing that defines it. If you fail to receive a bid or choose not to participate, there are still innumerable ways to enjoy your campus experience so that you should never feel left out or excluded from all that college has to offer. Greek or non-Greek, so much of college is what you make of it.