Taking Your Time: Dropping through the cracks

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John Lindenau

It’s safe to say that pledging a fraternity can be a stressful process for everyone involved.

Pledging leads to late nights, busy days and periods of doubt for prospective members. For some students, this is too overwhelming and can lead them to drop out from the process because of the stress and sheer amount of work involved.

Last semester, you could walk around campus and hear people reminiscing about the free time they used to enjoy. During the new member education, students always seem on edge, even during class or at fun events.

You might not hear anything like this until pledging begins next semester. Maybe you won’t even hear it then, depending on whether the LUPD and BPD will continue their spree of shutting down off-campus events.

Still, you can hear whispers around campus about the experiences of pledges who dropped out. I wanted to talk to a couple of those people to show another side of Greek life — the side that falls through the cracks.

I reached out to some people I met last semester who had dropped out of Greek life. Many students didn’t want to talk about their experiences for fear of being singled out, but a few were willing to speak with me.

No two people I spoke to had the same reasons for dropping. Although I didn’t hear about any “bombshells” in terms of horrible occurrences, each individual I spoke with said dropping from Greek life had a large impact on their college experience.

One person I talked to — let’s call them Tim — said the reason he dropped was more academic than anything.

“I wanted to continue (pledging), but I talked to my parents and they told me that if it (started) affecting my grades, I (would) need to stop and focus on getting better in my classes,” he said. “Eventually I noticed that there was a dip and I couldn’t afford to continue, so I dropped.”

I asked him if he felt any regret over his decision, and whether or not he felt he made the right choice. He said he was fine with how things ended up, even if sometimes he thinks about what could have been.

“Honestly, there are some days where I wonder if I made the right choice, but in the end, I think it was the right decision,” Tim said. “I’ve made friends outside of Greek life and I still talk to the people I know (in it), but I feel like I took the better option.”

Another person I spoke with — let’s call them Dan — left for more personal reasons, saying that as he went deeper into new member education, he just didn’t feel like it was for him. He didn’t want to be a part of something he couldn’t fully support.

“When I started, I was excited, and I felt like I was beginning a new journey in life and couldn’t wait to get going,” Dan said. “But after a few weeks, I was just worn down. I felt like this wasn’t really for me and I didn’t want to continue down a path that I wasn’t all that interested in anymore.” 

He said while he feels like he’s more comfortable with his current situation, he’s not sure if he made the right choice.

“Last semester was weird, and I feel like I’m a different person now, so I’m not certain I made the right decision,” he said. “I’ve considered trying it out again but decided against it.”

Hearing these people talk about their reasons for abandoning Greek life was enlightening. It seems you only hear about people dropping Greek life because of highly negative experiences.

Former pledges exist all over the place, and they’ve gone largely ignored. But what they have to say is important, because not everyone makes it through the system. As it turns out, the reason is often much simpler than you might think.

Sometimes people end up falling through the cracks — it’s important to realize that they’re still there.

John Lindenau, ’20, is an associate sports editor and columnist for The Brown and White. He can be reached at [email protected]

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