Holdgruen: On being self-critical of Greek life traditions

This weekend is one of the most important weekends for Geneseo Greek life: Bid weekend. Bid weekend is a celebration where Geneseo’s Greek organizations hand out bids—or invitations—to all the rushes that have been selected to become pledges.

Then a weekend long, alumni-filled party ensues. While those of us in Greek life can be excited for this weekend’s festivities, we should be self-critical and aware of the social implications of selective Greek life.

Greek life has a huge presence on our small campus and in American college life in general. To freshmen, Greek life may seem like the only way to find friends and make connections in college. This heavy presence of Greek life in campus social life and American collegiate tradition can have a subconscious, ego-boosting effect on students.

Similar to the feeling of superiority upperclassmen often feel toward underclassmen, the rush and bid process can bring out the worst in us through feelings of exclusivity and power. When we are in a position where our peers are hoping to impress us, sometimes we let it get to our heads.

Whether we like it or not, the rush and bid process is entirely based on our judgment of others. Judging others based on only a few interactions and first impressions isn’t exactly the most respectable practice. It is awkward—and quite cruel—that we’re essentially telling people they aren’t fun or likable enough to be our friend. And yet the rush and bid process is one of the most beloved and exciting traditions of Greek life.

When engaging in the rush and bid process, we must remember we aren’t better than rushes just because we’re in a position that they want to be in—a position only we can give them.

This is a toxic mentality that exaggerates the significance of the “unequal” member versus rush dynamic. It’s a dynamic that only exists because we often place too much importance on judging people rather than getting to know them.

This isn’t a case of being politically correct in order to not hurt anyone’s feelings—it’s a case of realizing that Greek life just isn’t as important as we make it out to be. It’s rewarding and fun to feel accepted, to meet lifelong friends and make alumni connections, but there is more to college than just Greek social life. Those who are uninterested in Greek life have just as great a time as we do and people aren’t inferior if they don’t receive a bid.

Bid weekend is both the best night of Greek life and the worst—it sucks that not everyone who wanted to participate can participate. But while organizations are screaming and cheering throughout campus, just remember that it’s by no means the complete extent of the fun you can have in college.

Emily Holdgruen is a member of Gamma Chi Epsilon.