This column is part of the Up For Discussion on Greek life at Yale. View the other columns in the discussion here.
It’s often difficult at Yale to find the right person to tell your problems to. It feels improper to complain about a B+ to your classmate who might be getting a B, or to stress about your job interview with the competition. Friends made through classes and academic extracurricular organizations can enrich the Yale experience, but a certain formality remains in these relationships. The necessary distance often makes it feel like everyone at Yale is all business, and somewhere in the grind, you are left alone with all of your worries. It’s hard to connect on a very personal level when your entire correspondence with an individual is built around a bullet point on your resume or a line on your transcript.
Hence, I often find myself sorting through my problems with the brothers of my fraternity. It’s not because we’re from the same city, political party or income bracket. It’s because my brothers know me. They know what might make me happy, what might upset me. We’ve seen each other’s ins and outs and have spent enough time together without an agenda to know how we all tick. When I can be honest and express myself with my fraternity brothers, I feel like I have something permanent, not based on a transient group project or a debate competition won. These friendships will last even after I graduate from Yale. I can’t say with the same confidence that I’ll remain in touch with everyone from my organic chemistry class once the dreaded final is over.
A network of support outside of work and classes is tremendously important at Yale, where the tension and stress level of overachievers nearly matches the height of our beloved Gothic architecture. The media caricature of fraternities emphasizes elitism and problems of alcohol abuse and sexual assault, and certainly there are institutions across the nation that have issues with the way their Greek life operates. However, I urge Yale students to consider the value that Greek organizations add to students’ mental health, and how important it is to bring together a group of people, of diverse backgrounds and interests, with no stress to succeed. In a school full of competitive extracurriculars, it’s nice to have some circles that revolve solely around friendship.
Alborz Yazdi is a sophomore in Saybrook College and a brother of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Contact him at email@example.com.