Freshman year can be a confusing time. It is a time where we can most easily meet new people, explore new interests, and challenge both ourselves and the world around us. Freshman year is also an opportunity to shed our personas from high school and to be someone new. Regardless of who you are, who you were, and who you want to be, during this time there is an immense pressure for us to quickly fit in, find our clique, and live up to every expectation we set for our own college experience.
This January, hundreds of excited men and women in the class of 2019 will meet their newfound brothers and sisters through IFC and PHA recruitment. For many of us at Northwestern, we rely on winter recruitment to find that group of students who just ‘get us’. Recruitment offers the promise of new friendship, belonging, and a place where we can truly be comfortable with ourselves while we continue to navigate through this new cold labyrinth we call winter quarter. But winter recruitment is sometimes far from this fairy tale narrative. That is why we are writing this letter to you.
To the Class of 2019, transfers, and to anyone participating in winter recruitment: do not let winter recruitment define who you are. Fraternity life can be fantastic. Indeed, many of the writers of this letter found an immediate sense of belonging within our chapters. For others of us, recruitment proved to be challenging, with the bonds of friendship only forming over time. And some of us have experienced dissent with our organizations, never truly finding that sense of brotherhood or sisterhood we sought when we decided to participate in recruitment. All of our stories are different, as will be yours. We cannot tell you what will be right for you, but we can urge you to go into recruitment with an open mind.
Recruitment Week at Northwestern is one of the first times when we must answer the question, “What do you want, and why here, and why now?” This is not answered on the “Common App”, nor to our moms at dinner when we want to go over to a friend’s house. This is answered to a group of people who we hope to one day call our brothers and sisters. For some it can be terrifying, for others it can be awe-inspiring. This can be one of the first times that we let ourselves be vulnerable, and in that short week we give our pitch, repeat it dozens of times, and then, as quickly as it seemed to sneak up on us, the week is over. This week is a time many of us feel the most inadequate or the most competent. We ask ourselves, did I say the right things, wear the right clothes, talk to the right people, act cool, speak the right way? Was I good enough? These questions can get lodged in our throats. and can weigh as heavy as boulders in our minds.
Rejection or acceptance. Bid or no bid. Not knowing if what we put out there – which is usually everything we have to offer – was enough can be stressful, as that yes or no can be a life-altering word. For others of us, recruitment can flip our social lives on their heads, sending all of the friends we made in fall quarter scattered in different directions. Some of you may feel lost, wondering if you did something wrong, or if you made some poor decision.
But we are here to say that you have already proven, through your tenacity, hard work and willingness to try new experiences, that you are good enough. Don’t let the fear of rejection cause you mental distress or to question your life worth, and don’t let the success of acceptance misguide you on a path of ostentation. Don’t let the thought of others in your residence halls starting to go on their own paths winter quarter prevent you from going on your own. And if rejection does come around, know that you are not alone. Sometimes it can feel like the world is falling from beneath your feet, but it’s not. You’re just flying higher. You will learn and grow from your recruitment experience and be a better person, regardless of if you get a bid. If you don’t find your home here in Fraternity & Sorority Life, then you will find it somewhere else. We know you can. We know you will.
To those of you who do not find your ‘dream’ organization, to those of you who are not immediate “besties” with every new brother, and to those of you who forgo recruitment altogether: you are not alone.
Winter quarter can be a stressful time. Not knowing whether you should wear three layers of clothing or four layers, walking with your back against the wind (literally) as you walk from north campus to south campus, and always having that little glimmer of hope that Morty will send out an email with the headline “Classes Are Cancelled” really takes a toll on you. But there is also the lingering stress of not knowing where you’ll end up, seeing your friends all start to live their busy lives, and missing the warmth of your bed back home. Winter quarter sucks, there’s very little way around that. Seasonal depression can impact any of us, especially during recruitment week. But as we’ve said several times in this letter and will continue to say ‘til we’re ushered off stage, you are not alone.
Finally, as you navigate through this quarter, we want to remind you first that there are always people whom you can ask for help. This winter many of us will get physically sick, and when this happens we will most likely consume tylenol, cough drops, and hot chicken soup to help us feel better. However, many of us will have mental health that suffers, and unlike our coughs and colds, we may elect to do absolutely nothing to get better. Schedule some time for yourself, and if you feel things crashing down, sometimes all we need to do is talk to someone. There are many links to resources on campus posted at the bottom of this letter, but remember that you also have each other. Take care of yourself, ‘Cats, but also try to be there for those around you, because we, as students, are the most abundant resource available on campus. No matter what happens during winter, or during recruitment, you are not alone.
Jacob Swiatek, MENtal Health President
Rodney Orr, IFC Chapter President
Walker McKinney, IFC Chapter President
Sarah Moss, NU Active Minds Co-President
Isaac Rappoport, MENtal Health
Neal Davidson, MENtal Health
Max Sterling, MENtal Health
Alex Gedalin, MENtal Health
Daniel Loizzo III, IFC VP for Programming
Daniel Perlovsky, IFC Chapter President
Jason Crain, IFC Chapter President
Joseph Raff, IFC Chapter President
Samuel Levant, IFC Chapter President
Hrid Biswas, IFC Chapter President
Michael Foulkes, IFC Chapter President
Thomas Hyman, IFC Chapter President
Andrew Dai, IFC Chapter President
Will Altabef, IFC Chapter President
Daniel Isaacson, IFC Chapter President
Joe Sauer, IFC VP for Recruitment
Julian Gerez, IFC VP for Public Relations