They meander across campus, maps held high in front of their faces, barely knowing where they are going in the next four minutes - let alone the next four years. Yes, UF's newest batch of fresh-faced, doe-eyed freshmen is here, and they are, for the most part, clueless.
Though they may be woefully ignorant now, these laymen to the college scene will be veterans in a few short months, already jaded to the club scene and house parties. Many of them will move on to bigger and better things, expanding their circles of friends through the gift and the curse known as Greek life. Well, I'm here to tell you that hedonism has its price, and not all fraternities are created equal.
Welcome to Rush Week, boys. It's your turn to be the chicks at the party. You will be hit on and gamed like a busty blonde without a boyfriend. Yes, there are fraternity dudes everywhere bearing both free pizza and toothy grins who would do a tiger shark proud. They know all the best after-parties, and they'd love to see you there (and while you're at it, bring your friends!). But though you may get treated like a piece of meat this week, fret not. That's nothing compared to what they have in store for later.
Ah, yes, the oldest and grandest of all American collegiate traditions: hazing. Join the wrong fraternity, and you probably won't be just fresh meat. You might be tenderized and beaten to a bloody freshman pulp. Don't believe me? In June 2005, one fraternity member filed a hazing complaint against his house. The complaint specifically detailed one hazing ritual called "scrubbing." Scrubbing is the act of cleaning a laundry detergent-soaked floor with nothing more than your knuckles, scrubbing away until your blood mixes with chemicals and you enjoy a sensation like that of Tyler Durden in "Fight Club" when he pours lye over his hand.
Don't get it twisted, though: not every fraternity at UF is a beacon of sadomasochism, and university policy forbids hazing. But if you're going to pledge yourself to an organization, you had better make damn sure you know what you're getting yourself into. A fraternity can be an unbelievable brotherhood, a place where you meet 30, 60 or 100 of your newest and best friends with whom you will share the good times you'll remember for the rest of your life. At most fraternities, those experiences will involve utterly insane parties, copious amounts of alcohol, bonding, barbecues, football, more parties and everything that you've dreamed college would be.
It's possible some fraternities may require you to pay your pound of flesh for admission. Yet be not afraid of what I have described, for if you keep your eyes and ears open, and aren't scared to ask questions, you will easily determine for yourself who your friends are and who just wants to spank you with a paddle.
Personally, I think you're crazy if you're a guy at UF and you don't go Greek. I highly recommend joining a fraternity as long as you do your homework. I was Greek for two of the best years of my life, and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Andrew Meyer is a senior majoring in telecommunications.