Off-campus Greek Life: Getaway From the Bubble?
Lisa ten Brinke
A group of guys doing push-ups on a dusky football pitch, wearing pyjamas and witty nametags, others hobbling through Dining Hall covered in mud and hair gel: everyone has witnessed campus initiations. But there is also a rather unknown world of fraternities and sororities outside of campus. Some UCU students join these as well, but most others know little about them. Why do people leave the bubble to join these groups?
“I thought it would be nice to have a place off-campus where I could go, just to leave UCU for a while,” Willem Mouton, member of both Equites and the off-campus USC, says. “I think you’re missing something when you’re purely focused on campus, because you’ll only meet people with the same mindset and motivation.”
Diba Mokhberolsafa, who joined both Allure and the off-campus UVSV, agrees: “At UCU, many conversations are academically orientated, something I’m not always into, so it’s nice to get out every once in a while.”
But what makes off-campus fraternity life special? Dries de Jager, member of the off-campus Unitas, explains: “I guess it has to do with the Dutch down-to-earth mindset, something I believe cannot be found on campus.” Their history also makes them unique. Lizz Fellinger, member of Luna and UVSV, adds: “Luna has only existed for 10 years and is still creating traditions, while UVSV has been there for more than a hundred years.”
Unfortunately, having a busy off-campus life is not always easy. Diba got reactions of criticism: “People called me crazy; they said it’s impossible to join both Allure and UVSV, while they completely accept people being in multiple on-campus boards.” Willem faced criticism as well: “UCU found it unacceptable that I had to miss part of Introweek because of my off-campus initiation, but I believe it should be everyone’s own choice.”
Time-wise, off-campus student life can be challenging, too. “I just joined Unitas, so I’m really busy at the moment, but I’ll find a balance over time.” Dries says. But Diba, who joined UVSV last year, still struggles with this: “It’s difficult when I have to cancel things, because I’m afraid that I’ll disappoint people. I simply cannot join my jaarclub (group of friends from the same year) every night for drinks because of my UCU work.”
Lizz also mentions sacrifices she had to make: “I sometimes think it’s a pity I don’t have time for a UCU board position for example, but I made the choices that suited me best. For others, UCU life might offer exactly the things that they like.”
All agree that despite their full schedules, gaps in UCU life, and difficult choices, off-campus life adds a lot to their student experience: they got to know the city of Utrecht, new people with a different outlook and a special student culture. Willem “would recommend getting the best of both worlds. That’s at least what I always try to do.”