Eager freshmen males flooded Dexter Lawn last week, searching for the fraternity that will become their social circle at Cal Poly and beyond.
Joining a greek organization can translate to many social advantages in the short-term and professional benefits in post-Cal Poly careers.
More than anything, some students feel that “going greek” provides a feeling of comfort and friendship.
Biochemistry sophomore Michael Wallum said he remembered how he felt when he rushed Lambda Chi Alpha.
“I didn’t even think I was going to join a fraternity at first … but I talked to some of the guys and thought this is definitely a group of guys that I can hang out with,” Wallum said. “It makes you feel a sense of belonging.”
A fraternity rush participant’s acceptance depends on his ability to market himself as someone who will proudly represent his brotherhood. There’s a large selection of fraternities to choose from, so aerospace engineering junior and Sigma Nu member Brett White said potential pledges should be themselves when attending rush events.
“You don’t want to act some way that’s not your normal personality and end up with people that don’t have similar interests as you,” White said.
Now that rush has ended, a certain amount of participants have received bids and if they accept, they become “pledges.”
After this period, pledges become members of their brotherhood.
There are 16 Interfraternity Council fraternities recruiting this winter, and more multicultural fraternities will recruit in the spring.
At the end of the first week of rush, more than 250 students registered for recruitment.
The number of new recruits chosen to join at the end of the rush period varies between each fraternity.
Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT), Cal Poly’s newest fraternity, counted 73 signatures from students interested in rushing in one day.
Out of all the signatures received during the week, ZBT chose approximately 10 people to give bids. In each of the last two rush periods, it gave eight bids to prospective brothers.
Fraternity co-founder Andre Alves said he is excited to see Cal Poly students interested in the “authentic camaraderie, community service and high academic performance” that comes with the greek experience.
Landscape architecture senior and Lambda Chi Alpha’s social chair Travis Moelter said he can’t say enough about the strength of the friendships he has gained from his four years in the greek system.
“I’ve learned to become an all-around better person in every aspect of my life,” Moelter said. “The fact that you can have so many guys under one roof, you are forced to learn from them all and vice versa.”
Mechanical engineering freshman Jimmy Szelenyi said he can’t wait to be part of a brotherhood, and he thinks of it as a necessary route to social success.
“Being independent sucks if you’re a guy,” Szelenyi said. “You can’t get anywhere.”
He said a fraternity is a ticket to “a big group of friends, never being bored, parties, girls, everything … the whole stereotype.”
This perception of greek life, true or not, is one of the leading motivations for students to join the movement.
Most college students cannot suppress the urge to be a part of a fun, off-campus social event, and there’s no reason to believe that a friendship forged at a party is less meaningful.
There are those freshmen who are confident that their social lives will be just fine without the help of a fraternity.
Agriculture business freshman Mitchell Mouw doesn’t have any interest in going greek.
“I just don’t think it’s what I want,” Mouw said. “I’d rather do my own thing, but that’s just me.”
Still, Jones and other greek proponents contend that the leadership skills and networking potential of being a fraternity brother are invaluable assets that are provided by greek life.
White said the leadership, organization and time management skills you learn from being involved with a fraternity are transferable to any field of study. In short, it’s a résumé builder.
If nothing else, nutrition junior and ZBT recruitment chairman Hayden Richter said, going greek gives you more opportunities to make new friends.
“I’ve made a lot of close friendships,” Richter said. “I’ve met so many people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.”