Finding Meaning in College Social Life

It was finally here, college move in day. Freshmen lined the roads outside of the dorms, waiting to move into their home away from home. Everything was different to them: new home, people, streets, and buildings. Are they gonna be able to fit in and find their own niche? Some yes, while others try to be something they normally wouldn’t be.

Then came rush week, where those who wanted to participate had to make their decision. A week of traveling from fraternity to fraternity, talking to the current members, seeing which one fits their personality best. For those that decided to join a fraternity, it was a long week of going to certain events, meeting new people, and doing things you might not normally do, appropriate or inappropriate. Then came the bids: an official invitation to be a member in the fraternity. The lucky ones who got bids from their fraternities felt honored, while the ones who were in a sense “rejected” were disappointed. Yet, should these people feel bad? While fraternities are for some people, they are surely not for everyone. Are they all really having meaningful fun?

Your typical frat house.

In Bernard Suits’ The Grasshoper: Game, Life, and Utopia, the message of a meaningful life will make some, not all, maybe feel a little better. In the text, the grasshopper is trying to recall what he did over the summer, helping him decided if it had been meaningful. In this, the grasshopper argued that the only meaningful thing in life is play. Suits’ definition of play is:

“To play a game is to engage in activity directed towards bringing about a specific state of affairs, using only means permitted by rules, where the rules prohibit more efficient in favor of less efficient means, and where such rules are accepted just because they make possible such activity…playing a game is the voluntary attempt to overcome unnecessary obstacles.”
When comparing this definition to college students in fraternities, it is evident that while it is play, it is not always meaningful play. When being in one of these communities, someone is in a sense picking out a group of friends for the next four years, no matter how much he likes or dislikes the people in it. The majority of his freshman year be will be doing jobs for the upperclassman, which takes up a lot of time. While this may be fun for some, it is important that others understand the true definition of play, and find their own way. College students need to realize that there is a social life out there other than fraternities. One doesn’t need to involuntarily hangout with a group of kids just because he feels the need to follow the crowd and try to fit in. All what it takes is getting oneself out there and seeing what fits. Colleges understand how diverse the population of students is, and they try to do everything they can to fit ones lifestyle. Note back to the definition, and let something that comes voluntary take over an individual’s time, not something that is weighing you down, changing who one really is.

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One comment

  1. gretandr · October 6, 2014

    I agree completely. Play is best represented when it comes naturally. Some students come into college with high hopes that they’re going to be best friends with their roommate and form a group of friends within the first few weeks. The more desperate these students are to scramble and find friends, the more likely it is that they will realize, one day, that they might not click with these people very much. Everything feels very forced- forced to find friends, forced to know your way around town, and forced to acclimate to a new lifestyle. However, the stress must be balanced with play… and students will find their best fit if they let play come as it feels right to them.

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