This may sound strange, but one of the reasons I chose Augustana was because it lacks something that other colleges boast: Greek life.

While I am aware that plenty of fraternities and sororities defy the pervasive cultural stereotypes, I feel that Augie’s decidedly Greek-free campus provides a more comfortable environment for its students than a school with active chapters could.

Walking past Greek row on a recent trip to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s campus, I was reminded of how thankful I am that, at Augie, we are not segregated into competitive clusters based on our living arrangements. Though residing in a spacious, beautiful house might be a nice change, being required to live and associate with the same group of people for four years would be, in my opinion, a heavy price to pay.

Our housing at Augie may not always be ideal, but the mandatory residence hall years indisputably help us meet a diverse array of people. Here, we are free to find our own friends, since a committee seeking like-minded individuals did not select our fellow residents.

From what I’ve heard from my friends at larger schools, Greek life can also be incredibly time-consuming; service projects, fundraisers and group bonding activities leave little space for other extracurriculars in participants’ schedules. By becoming a member of a fraternity or sorority, you might be forfeiting opportunities to be active in other organizations that better represent your interests.

At Augie, though, people automatically gravitate towards the groups that interest them, since there is no social pressure to join any particular organization. I am grateful every day that I chose to attend a school that allows me to be known for my individual talents rather than for the Greek letters I might represent.

Finally, since there are no exclusive social organizations on campus, we have the freedom to participate in any campus group without needing to be told whether or not we’re “good enough.” I admit that the idea of a rush week initially sounds exciting, but then I stop and think: would I ever want to be part of an organization that routinely tells people that they’re “not right” for the group?

I don’t believe I could ever be completely comfortable at a school where the student body was sequestered into selective niches. Augie’s all-are-welcome atmosphere is an attribute of which we should be proud.

I’ve never felt that I am “missing out” on a traditional college experience due to Augie’s lack of Greek life. In my opinion, the Augie community is actually strengthened by the system’s absence.