The Best-Kept Secret: Independent Living
It’s time for “Name the Fraternities at Wabash!”…your first test as a freshman. This is your chance to list the options of living situations that you have, evaluate them, and choose the group of guys that you’ll spend the next four years around. Let’s think about all the easy ones to remember first: FIJI. Theta Delt. TKE. Beta. GDI. Wait…GDI? What are they doing in that list? They’re not a fraternity! The Godd*** Independents are nothing but a bunch of non-partying losers who stay in their old dirty dorms and off-campus houses, have no social life, and complain about Sparks food all the time. Nobody would want to be a part of them!
So let me interrupt this degrading of independents to let you in on a little secret…being independent is the best kept secret on this campus. Yes, that will sound like blasphemy to some, but I’m here to tell you that it’s the truth. Now before some “brothers” get all “fratty” and decide to egg my car, let me say one thing: this isn’t an anti-fraternity article written by a bitter FIJI de-pledge or TKE drop-out. I’m simply an “independent evangelist”…spreading my gospel of freedom and brotherhood to Wabash. Yep, that’s another sentence that will make fraternity members cringe. But it shouldn’t be that way. So how can I claim true brotherhood by being an independent?
Well, first of all, if you haven’t noticed already, Wabash is pretty much a big fraternity anyway. Think about it. We’re a group of 900 men who are going through one of the most exciting (yet challenging) times in our lives. Whether we spend our time studying playing Call of Duty in a dorm or in a fraternity, we are constantly surrounded by the same group of guys whether in class, in sports, or during three-hour Student Senate meetings. Wabash, as a whole, bonds us together and creates our brotherhood. We don’t need to be a pledge to do that. We have that unity whether in Martindale, Morris, or 410 Crawford.
Also, being a political science major and a staunch conservative, I know some of you may be looking for a political reason to be independent. If that’s the case, you can take comfort in knowing that you’re upholding the Constitution (which all good conservatives love to hear!). Being independent allows you to maximize your first amendment right of freedom of association! (Glenn Beck would be proud of my analogy). Although I know we all have a choice of housing at the beginning of our Wabash career, who really knows what group of guys they will be hanging out with senior year? Mine have changed slightly over three years, and being independent means I get to choose my living situation as my friendship and housing needs change. So just remember, being independent=upholding the Constitution.
Finally, and most importantly, independent life is thriving at Wabash more than ever (despite 50-year old dorms). I’m a second generation Morris Hall dweller, and my father is constantly amazed at the amount of activities and fun that we have as independents. Things like IMA cookouts, “Movie on the Mall”, and College Hall parties just didn’t happen in the late 70’s with independents. Plus, when it comes to Homecoming, you get to take pride in creating your float, chant, and doing Chapel sing without any hazing character-building activities. In fact, even though I didn’t do Chapel sing (something I regret from my freshman year), I have more respect for the independents who choose to participate because (just like all things independent), it is completely voluntary. Independents are some of the most active students you will get to know on campus….especially the freshmen. That’s not an insult to fraternity members, it just means that events in the house (once again, especially for freshmen) might get in the way of being involved with other campus clubs or events.
But here comes the obligatory statement regarding housing… Although I love being an independent (GDI ‘til I die!), I know it’s not for everyone. I knew when I got to Wabash that a fraternity was not for me, even though many tried to tell me it was. Maybe you feel the same way. I have plenty of good friends in fraternities, and constantly tell me why (insert Greek letters here) is the best house. What I hope is that you don’t dismiss being independent as having no fun, no brotherhood, and no sense of tradition….because my experience has been completely opposite of that. It’s just like anything else you do; you get out of it what you put into it.
Though I fully believe that being independent is the best kept secret of the college, I encourage all freshmen (and upperclassmen) to remember that no matter what choice you make about your living situation the next four years: we’re no doubt brothers with who we choose to live…whether Lambda Chi, Phi Delt, Phi Psi, Sigma Chi, Kappa Sig, or yes, even independents, but we’re first and foremost brothers of the college. Explore being an independent…but no matter what, welcome to the brotherhood. Welcome to Wabash.