Let me phrase it like this. Even though rooms might be suite styled, there are RA’s on every floor and they do regular inspections of rooms. Greek housing is technically off-campus and have their own jurisdiction.
Yes, BARH is within the RPI campus. You can see this by looking at a map. You will be surrounded by the athletic facilities as well as quite close to a few fraternities, residential homes, and RPI’s apartment style housing options: RAHPs and STACwyck. It’s as safe as any other residence hall.
It depends on the individual, but wholistically, it’s not too time-consuming, as many students participate in Greek Life, do well in academics, and are involved in other places on campus. Is it time-consuming? Yes, it is a commitment. Is it too time-consuming for you? Well, I don’t know you…. so I can’t say.
Are “the Greeks” strict? Well, I’ve never heard of anything like the example about your friend being fined for missing a social event at RPI. Getting involved in Greek Life is meant to build your character in many dimensions (personally, socially, professionally, academically, etc.). You should attend rush events in the fall and ask these questions of the Greek students.
**UPDATED Friday, 6/10/2011**
I’m summarizing the information that a friend (who is in a sorority) shared with me.
Parts of the process cannot be revealed, but her first piece of advice is to keep an open mind. You should visit the different sororities and get to know the girls. See what girls you get along with and where you feel comfortable. There will be two invite parties. After the second, you may receive a bid. Then, you can sign your bid and cross your fingers that you are in. As she says, it can seem scary, but there will be great rewards.
[My own feed back on not being picked: I’m sure it happens sometimes. There’s not much you can do about not being picked besides finding new things to do. Although going Greek is great, there is plenty else to do on campus. The Union funds over 150 clubs that offer great events from social things, to government, creativity, leadership, and service. It wouldn’t be the end of the world.]
On mixers: in short, mixers can be a part of Greek life, but she advises that you join for other reasons. Sororities focus on community service hourse, philanthropy and sisterhood. Don’t join just to meet guys, party, and be social.
No, I am not in a fraternity.
However, I did get involved in the rush and pledge process with a fraternity last spring. When you arrive in the fall, you will have an opportunity to get involve in an overwhelming amount of activities on and off campus. Among these opportunities is what we call “Greek Life” – you probably know of it as fraternities and sororities.
When you move in, you will likely have brothers from fraternities helping the freshmen get all of their stuff in the building. Part of this is service, but they also want to get their name out to the freshmen. Almost all of the fraternities will “dorm storm,” or go through the freshmen residence halls passing out “rush calendars” and inviting you to their rush events. Rush is a period (usually about two weeks) where fraternities hold open-invitation events with their brothers. Some of these events are at their houses and some involve going some place. You’ll hear about movie nights, poker tournaments, throwing old televisions off of roofs, cliff jumping, barbecues, trips to play laser tag… the list goes on and on. These are called rush events. The general purpose is 1) for you to get a feeling if you feel like you get along well with the brothers and 2) for the brothers to get a feeling if you fit in well with them. Towards the end of rush weeks, you may be extended a “bid.” This means that the brothers have agreed (usually unanimously, if I’m not mistaken) to invite you to pledge. If you get a bid, you will be invited to a bid dinner where you can sign your bid. From here, the pledge process begins.
Pledging is a period of education and continued camaraderie. For most fraternities, pledging runs from the end of rush (mid-September for fall pledge classes) to the end of the semester. During the pledge process, you will be educated in the values and traditions of your fraternity. You will do activities and challenges with your pledge class (the students who are pledging the fraternity at the same time) that will build the brotherhood between you. I won’t go into specifics, as many fraternities take pride in the secretive nature of their pledging process, but you will learn a lot about the history and traditions of the fraternity as well as get to know the brothers and pledge brothers.
When the fraternity feels that you have shown that you are worthy to be a brother, you are extended membership and you “get your letters.” At this point, you are a member of the fraternity!
I wouldn’t describe it as necessarily easy to get in to a fraternity. Getting a bid is something that can be accomplished relatively easily if you fit in well with the brothers and they like you. Some fraternities are more selective than others. The pledge process is time consuming and challenging, but your pledge brothers will help you along the way.
Hazing is illegal and looked down upon. The fraternity that I pledged, and most others as far as I know, allow pledges to abstain from an activity if they feel that it will harm them (physically, mentally, academically, etc.). Fraternities know that if they are caught hazing pledges, they can have their charter revoked in addition to consequences with the school and law. Does it happen? Well, I haven’t tried pledging all of the fraternities, so I can’t be confident in saying no.
I hope this answers your questions. There will be events in the fall run by the IFC (Interfraternity Council) to help inform you about the process further (though I gave pretty complete details) and to provide you with information about the fraternities at RPI, of which there are 28.
Last thing: I want to explain briefly that I opted to de-pledge from the fraternity that I was pledging last spring because I decided that I would enjoy my time at college more in other ways. This was a personal decision, something that I decided wasn’t right for me. I value the concept of a fraternity and think that they make great contributions to the campus environment.
1) Party scene at RPI: Yes, there are parties at the fraternities almost every weekend. Many students choose to make partying an every weekend thing, some choose to never “go out”. It can be a good way to relax and meet people, but you should be responsible about your decisions.
2) Sorority girls: Yes, I’m friends with quite a few sorority girls. I think almost all of them are very happy with their decision to “go greek”. Joining a sorority (or fraternity) is a great way to meet a strong network of friends. You will be provided with opportunities to grow in many ways. These groups will support your academics, social, extracurricular and athletic adventures. Look forward to rush weeks at the beginning of your fall semester!
3) Switching majors: It sounds kind of like you want to study three different majors, which might be a challenge to do throughout. But, don’t be discouraged. You will definitely have time to test the different waters without too harsh of repercussions. Consider taking Introduction to Engineering Analysis (IEA – our “statics” course), General Psychology, and Comp Sci I in your first semester. SO advisors will be available to help you register for your courses when you come for orientation. As for switching majors later and still graduating on time: it’s possible, but it takes some coordination. AP credits and summer school make it easier, but you’ll have plenty of time to make these decisions!
My roommates and I just had a discussion. I think that between small gatherings, house parties, and fraternity parties, there have to be near 700 parties a year. There are usually a few major parties every weekend (probably 3-4) and often on Tuesday nights (Wednesday is a low-load class day). If you want to party, you can.
That being said, don’t make the story of your career at RPI a semester of partying. If you do it too much, you won’t last long.