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Geek life vs. Greek life

| Monday, February 17, 2014

Before transferring to the University of Notre Dame this past fall, I spent my freshman year down in SEC territory at the University of Missouri. Upon my acceptance to Missouri, I made a commitment to positively improve myself both academically and socially throughout my four years of college, no matter what.

In terms of academia, it was evident that I would succeed at Missouri, even as I was pursuing a journalism degree from one of the most highly touted journalism schools in the nation. However, when it came to the social aspect of my collegiate experience, that promise I had made to myself could not be upheld. This reasoning can be summed up by two simple words: Greek life.

You can’t attend a state school and not hear about the Greek community. At these schools, fraternities and sororities are the central hub for the collegiate social scene across the nation. Throughout my time at the University of Missouri, I experienced exactly what it was like to be a member of the Greek community. Unfortunately, this experience left me disheartened, feeling as if my overall growth as an individual had been impaired. I eventually determined, this college environment that I once thought would have a strong sense of community was utterly shattered by the very presence of Greek life.

The polarization between Greeks and Non-Greeks at the University of Missouri was the main indicator of a significant problem. It seemed as though the only way to have the social life that I wanted could be found through Greek life. But, once you joined the Greeks, there was no going back. Non-Greek students, labeled “GDI’s” (abbreviated for “God D*** Independents”), were harshly ridiculed by fraternity men and sorority women alike.

How does this behavior foster a communal environment? Where is the class and maturity that these Greek men and women claim to uphold? I find it incredibly appalling that this lack of respect for others is tolerated.

At the University of Notre Dame, we pride ourselves on living by the foundation that Father Sorin set forth. He envisioned Notre Dame as becoming “one of the most powerful means of doing good in this country”. I believe that the University’s familial sense of community can be attributed to that vision. One can see this displayed through the “Peace be with you” hugs at dorm mass, singing the alma mater after football games and earnestly praying alongside one another at the Grotto. We are 8,000 students strong, standing beside our fellow peers through it all.

So the next time you explain to someone that dorm life is exactly like Greek life, please reevaluate your statements. Here at Notre Dame, we rise above the Greek life standard, respecting all by treating one another with dignity and compassion. We are Notre Dame students. We are all nerds. We are all cool.

The views expressed in the Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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About Rebecca Rogalski

Current Notre Dame sophomore majoring in FTT and double minoring in Journalism, Ethics, and Democracy and Business-Economics.

Contact Rebecca