Greek Life at DePauw has always been prevalent, particularly with IFC and Panhellenic councils. In fact, US News ranked DePauw to be the second highest of undergraduates in fraternities in the fall of 2021 with 66 percent and the fifth highest of undergraduates in sororities with 59 percent.
Madison Altman, a senior global health major, dropped her sorority her junior year. In her first year, Altman decided to join Greek life because she was intrigued by the idea.
“Going through it for me wasn't awesome. I felt like I was being constantly assessed, and it felt uncomfortable and sometimes felt competitive with other girls in a social way. It didn’t help my self-esteem at all,” Altman said.
“There was also so much pressure that we all had to be besties and hang out all the time, but realistically, unity isn't feasible and you’re going to have cliques in houses.”
When talking about living in the house, Altman mentioned issues with sexism.
“A male worker who worked in the house said it was like a brothel in here because we would have guys over, and I feel like the rules of not having people over is for the preservation of an image of not being ‘those types of girls.’ This was the advice of the institution of our house rather than the women, which is inherently sexist,” she added.
Kelley Seifert, a senior religious studies and sociology double major, dropped her house as former VP her junior year. She said that going into recruitment, she was excited for the new-found friendships and the genuine sisterhood she thought she was going to have. However, she claims that the narrative students are shown about sorority life isn’t true.
“I had a really smooth process during rush, but I hated going through the process of dressing up, talking to these girls where we’re having conversations that are surface level, but I felt privileged because other girls weren't getting bids, which made it seem like they weren’t good enough for a house. Being on the other side of it made me realize how messed up the system actually is because girls are picked by their peers but also through a computer generated system which is extremely flawed,” Seifert said.
Seifert also touched on the Greek system being systemically racist by taking her experience as an observer.
“The school seems to save a lot of houses that shouldn’t be saved, so a lot of hazing and over alcohol consumption is disregarded because if they want to fight the house, they have to fight the whole Greek organization. This is just how I view it, but I don’t know if that’s actually how it works,” Seifert said. “Since being out of Greek life, I feel like you see a lot of the bad stuff that gets ignored, and a lot of the stuff that goes on in houses because Greek life is built the way it is. Nothing will leave the walls.”
Kelsey Owen, a senior and a global health and psychology double major, expressed that the appeal to rush was to make friends, and it seemed like Greek life was what you did for that.
“Going into the rush process, I was really nervous. The first part of the process felt very ingenuine. Going to different houses was hard because some girls in different houses would talk down on other houses. Being on the other side of it, I was entirely shocked by the process. It’s very strategic, and in fact, over the summer, they will tell us to start looking for incoming girls through Instagram and essentially, are looking for who we are interested in based on the standard of ‘who's pretty.’”
Owen said that the accumulation of being left out and targeted for being her authentic self and not conforming to a narrative ultimately led to her decision to drop her house.
“I felt like because of my difference in my moral standings and in the way I think I resented because I would get reprimanded for things I did that other women also did,” she added.