Hoagies and stogies. Free Woodstock’s Pizza and hookah. Pretzels and chips. It could only mean one thing: Rush Week has arrived, my favorite week of the quarter. It’s a time when students from all walks of life become the center of attention. It’s a time when a handful of strangers can instantly become your best friends, and it’s a week where fraternities get to show off their admittedly awesome calendar of events, tour you through their disconcertingly clean rooms and – my personal favorite – attempt to explain their no-hazing policies with a straight face. Top it all off with a crazy night of Midnight Madness, where all the frats open their doors to the sororities for a night of shameless debauchery and it’s definitely a week to remember. Sorry Chancellor Yang, but as much as I’m down with Nobel Prizes, it’s weeks like this that keep the kids applying.
As Rush Week nears each quarter, it becomes impossible to not be aware of the events taking place in the greek community. The frats spend about as much time promoting themselves as they do bickering over which house is number one in athletics, which for the record is apparently PIKE. Huge wooden signs are placed on campus and hung from treetops beckoning those who pass by to come rush. Advertisements are put up on Facebook, overplayed rap music is blasted, nametags are distributed and photos are taken as those interested in joining the Greek system make their rounds.
While some frats this quarter chose to keep things simple, offering pretzels and water, others went all out, serving beef Wellington, salmon and tri tip sandwiches, just to name a few of the dishes offered. With that kind of food being served and my paycheck a month a way, I found it quite hard not to stop by. So I headed out with a friend to see what rush was all about. I figured that while I hadn’t exactly the greatest urge to join a frat, a tasty burger from In-N-Out might make me think otherwise. It turns out I was wrong.
From the time I stepped inside the first frat, to the moment I left the last, I felt overwhelmingly unnerved. Whether it was the fact that I had to type all my contact information into a computer or be surrounded by a group of people who looked like they were characters in “The Trunman Show,” I’m not sure. But it was definitely weird. Plus, the entire time I spent in each frat, I couldn’t stop thinking about how little sense it made that here I was, getting a first hand experience of how those in the greek community lived and yet there was no alcohol or sorority girls to be seen. I know that rush week at UCSB is dry, but I find that a bit misleading. I understand that it’s a lot easier to get to know someone when you are, well, sober, but I don’t think it exactly paints an accurate picture of what one could expect if they joined a majority of the frats at this school.
I think it would be easier for someone to figure out which frat is the best fit if they could spend a day doing what frats usually do, whether its helping put on a philanthropy event, playing indoor soccer or having a black light party with a sorority. I just don’t see how smoking hookah with 10 guys who probably just want to get stoned and play “NBA Live” is going to help someone figure out which frat is for him. Don’t get me wrong. I would never be able to talk to random people for more than an hour without going insane. So I don’t expect frat guys to either.
Realistically, I don’t see rush changing any time soon. In the meantime, however, the frats might as well stop wasting their money on overpriced, fancy food. It’s just asking me to mooch.