Almost everything about me screams frat bro. Yeah, I know. In many circles that’s not considered a compliment, but it’s who I am. My too-preppy wardrobe consists of a disconcerting number of Sperry shoes, Chubbies shorts and Hawaiian shirts. Although my vocabulary is fairly extensive, I regularly overuse words like “bro,” “man” and the ever popular “bruh.” And of course, I enjoy a good party or tailgate (and perhaps an occasional lukewarm Busch Light) now and again. So yes, I fit the stereotype.
Despite all of this, I am fratless. I went through the entire rush process, enjoyed my experience, received my bids and decided not to pledge. This is the story of a fratless frat bro.
Rush week at the University of Iowa begins with a first-day email about where every frat will host that day and for how long. It may be at a local bar or restaurant, their house or a park. At Iowa, you get to decide which frats you want to check out. You can visit every house, but that’s a pretty aggressive schedule. At each stop, you can stay for as long or as little as you want, talk to the guys, eat some tasty food and just have a good time.
For the rest of the week, the Inter-fraternity Council of the university will contact you about where the frats’ locations, and you pick from there. How much fun you have is entirely up to you. From what I can tell, fraternity rush is a more relaxed and enjoyable experience than the stressful hell week that is sorority rush. But in their defense, it’s pretty tough to beat the free tacos and cigars I received on bid night.
I was all set on pledging. I received a bid from my top choice, and ready to begin my life in the brotherhood.
But (as it seems to happen oh-so-often), the women in my life had other ideas. When I brought up the idea with my long-distance girlfriend, she was clearly not into it. While she didn’t put her foot down to stop me from rushing, she did express her concerns about the image that fraternities have about too much partying, hazing and more. So while it remained my choice, her concerns made me to second-guess myself.
Almost immediately after that, I called my mom to tell her the good news about my decision to pledge. Despite the fact that she is a card-carrying sorority gal, she wanted me to hold off on rushing too. Her rationale was that the UI fraternity rush was too chaotic and too informal to really know if you are making a good decision about a lifetime of brotherhood. She wanted me to wait until the spring to rush, to have a chance to meet more fraternity men in their “natural habitat.”
It felt like kind of a downer. Although I wanted to rush and get to know the guys better, the two most important women in my life confessed that they did not feel super comfortable with the idea. They weren’t firmly opposed, but just worried enough to make me reconsider the idea.
Obviously telling the guys wasn’t easy, but they were very understanding. They simply told me that I was welcome to rush at any point, whenever I felt ready. That made me feel much better about it, knowing I wasn’t throwing away my only opportunity.
Eventually, I decided to hold off on rushing. When the woman you owe everything to and the woman you love passionately are both uncertain about something, you listen. I made the decision to wait on rushing until I got to know the guys better.
So that’s what I’ve been doing, as well as meeting guys from other frats, unaffiliated people and generally exploring the social scene at UI. You know, through tailgates and other clubs and activities. After I tell people this story, they often ask me if I have any regrets. I suppose I’m regretting the decision. Part of me feels like I didn’t make this decision for myself. Instead, it feels like I made it based on outside influences. Part of me also feels that I’m not rushing (ha) into this decision by listening to them. While I remain conflicted on my feelings at the moment, I know that I will rush at some point. Whether that’s next week, next semester or whenever I want to, it’ll happen eventually.