It’s okay to be an Independent

At the beginning of this semester, Greek life was the focus of almost every conversation I had with friends and overheard among strangers. This is because recruitment and rush took over the lives of a large number of William Jewell College’s first-year class. Women were excited to be finally allowed inside the Complex while men were all over the free food that apparently comes with rush week. Unlike the entirety of my friend group, though, I did not take part in this exciting and, it seems, stressful process.

I have never seen myself as a Greek woman. I have absolutely no problem with sororities, but I just do not think that being a member of one would be helpful in light of my goals and aspirations. However, my first semester at Jewell made me unsure of this choice I made long ago. It seemed as if the only people involved on campus, and the only people who were making positive contributions to both the Jewell and global communities, were members of Greek organizations. In fact, it seemed as if the only way to be a successful woman here was as a sorority member.

Because of this, I decided to attend the first meeting of recruitment week with an open mind. I walked out of that meeting with renewed confidence in my original decision. This choice allowed me to avoid the stress and tears of recruitment week that I witnessed in the lives of my fellow first-year women.

I am thrilled for all of my friends who got what they wanted out of the process.  Jewell is a very small school, and, frankly, I don’t need or want to be part of an even smaller community within it; but, there were first years who were interested in joining the Greek community and did not get what they wanted out of the week. I think it’s harmful for us to ignore someone just because of their independent status. Everyone here can be successful regardless of affiliation.

I am ecstatic with my choice to stay independent. There are upperclassmen who have become very influential in my life and who are incredibly inspirational actors both in Jewell’s community and as citizens of the world. I know that my choice to be an independent will not make my time at Jewell any less fulfilling than it would have been otherwise. However, I have not deluded myself into believing that I will never be lonely or that none of my relationships with now-Greek friends will change. Jewell seems overtaken by Greek life; every intramural sport has numerous teams that stem from sorority and fraternity houses. I know that Homecoming, recruitment and mom-dot weeks will be lonely ones. I can deal with these things, though, knowing that I did not choose to give up something about myself that I have been sure of for years.

None of this is to say that I think an independent life is better than a Greek life. I simply think that it is better for some people. Clearly, I am one of these people. Also, I want to say that it is okay for any of you to be one of those people. Being independent in no way means that you have to fade into the background and not exist within Jewell’s social sphere. Instead, I think of being independent as giving myself more time to be involved in a number of the great organizations the College has to offer, and being able to devote my time to activities of my choosing alone. The next four years of the class of 2018 will be significant ones, and this is true regardless of your affiliation or lack thereof.

Erin Melton

Erin Melton is a senior Literature and Theory major and French and Religious Studies minor. She is the chief copy editor and loves camels.

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