During my time at Illinois, I was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPI). While the paragraph above may seem like I would be turning you away from fraternity and sorority life, I am here to say the opposite, but with a twist. I was always on the fence about joining a fraternity, as I am not the “frat star” all fraternity members are pegged to be. However, I was able to join the house and meet some of my best friends in college and create a social environment with new friends, activities and a community that I would not have found otherwise. Being in AEPI also allowed me to continue to be surrounded by others who shared many of the same Jewish values I did, which could then be furthered and reinforced through endless activities, laughs and lifelong relationships made at Hillel.
However, like I said, unlike others, I was not always destined to be in a fraternity, but I was able to find a home. I was also able to keep the fraternity a big part of my life, but also be involved in and around campus. In AEPI, I served as Athletics Chair for three semesters, allowing me to stay connected to the house in a leadership position. Having this role in the house helped me build relationships with other members and enabled me to become an integral part of planning house activities. But my U of I experience didn’t stop there. Some of my best friends were those I met in my freshman year dorm, at the student newspaper and radio station (Daily Illini and WPGU) and of course Illini Hillel. The balanced relationship I was able to create with those within Greek Life and those outside of it is something I look back on with pride. I was able to take the best of both worlds, and I think that is something important to consider as you begin your time at Illinois.
If you have your heart set on joining a fraternity or sorority, do it! You will not regret it. And for those who are on the fence, simply try it. I was able to create a balanced college experience, which is one I will never forget. And if you are not interested at all, that is perfectly fine. You will have an unforgettable college experience. While Greek Life steals many of the headlines when looking at Illinois, there is more to the school than just that aspect, but if you give it a try, you can make it whatever you want it to be. For me, joining the house was a great decision, and one I understand and appreciate now having just graduated. So my advice, give it a try, what do you have to lose?
Class of 2016