This week has brought with it the end of new member recruitment for Duquesne’s sororities and fraternities… but this isn’t really a post about Greek life. Well, not totally about Greek life, it’s more about getting involved and how to go about that – and Greek life is certainly one of many ways to do just that. Last time I wrote it was about the process of renewal that new members bring to organizations and the university – with this one I’m aiming more for the personal level. Anyways…
Like any larger university, Duquesne has a ton of great student organizations to join. Each fall there is a huge fair on Academic Walk with most, if not all, of the various clubs and organizations staff a table and A-Walk looks like part gauntlet/part block party. For returning students it’s a time to reconnect with folks they haven’t seen all summer, for new students it’s a bit of an introduction to how diverse the interests are on our little bluff.
For some people (like me), this can almost be overwhelming – where to begin? Should I join the “DU Underwater Basket Weaving Enthusiasts” or “Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow?” OK, neither of these are real… well, the latter is one of the factions in a card game called Illuminati, but they aren’t recognized student groups here. For me, it all started with Greek life.
To give some context – I started my undergraduate career at a small engineering school in Massachusetts. I hate to sound like some old codger, but it was a different era (not so far back that we walked to school in the snow uphill both ways, but many moons ago). We didn’t have a student union to serve as a base for organizations, and most of the clubs were tied to academic disciplines… so I guess I was a member of the American Nuclear Society (Blinky the Three-Eyed Fish was our mascot), but it was more of a loose association than a club and there wasn’t much in the way of programming that they did. For the record, the school now has a beautiful student center and I’m sure they are doing awesome things – and I don’t regret my time there in the least.
But that strictly pre-professional involvement wasn’t what ultimately helped me to grow as an individual. The credit/blame for that goes to Greek life. When I started college I would never have dreamed that I would have joined a fraternity – it was just something that I didn’t think would be for me. But when your entire floor is going to do the fraternity house tours, being left there alone on the floor, even for an introvert like me, seemed pretty lonely. So I went. It was eye-opening – to actually start to meet people. Some places you left thinking, “I soooo don’t fit in with these guys” and others you thought, “hey, that wasn’t so bad – they like the same stuff that I do.” Ultimately, I was offered a bid from a fraternity and joined.
I said that this wasn’t going to be a piece about Greek life… and it still isn’t. But joining the organization that I did was a huge step for me. I had a place that I belonged, people around me that had similar interests. I had opportunities to meet other people as a result, what had been near crippling shyness gave way to me being able to talk to other people, engage with them, basically making me more human. When I ended up transferring from that school to what would become my alma mater I was sad to leave… but I did so with skills and tools that helped me take the next step, and the next… and the one after that.
I don’t think that if I hadn’t joined a student organization I would be where I am today. I’m not overstating that – and really that is my point: take that first step. Getting involved on campus is something that you won’t regret. You’ll feel more at home on campus, you’ll connect with other people who have similar interests. Eventually, that might mean taking on leadership roles that translate into skills you have to offer employers once you graduate.
So, it might seem like something minor, joining a student organization. But in connecting with other students who share your interests, your passions… you will likely be making life-long friends and gaining very valuable skills that will come in handy later on in life. I promise.
And yeah, I’m in the lower right hand corner. Before you laugh too hard – in 20+ years someone your age will be snickering at your pictures from college. Just sayin’.