What do you think of when you hear the word "sorority"? Do you think of skinny, rich, white girls that smirk at you disapprovingly from their table in the dining hall? Or the terrifying door chant videos on YouTube that seem vaguely similar to what you'd imagine the gates of hell would be like? What about girls that are never in class because they are bedridden due to a hangover because they partied too hard the night before? Maybe it's the ditzy yet good-natured and supportive women depicted in movies such as "Legally Blonde". While these are all very common stereotypes of sorority women, they are not true and cannot be categorized into such specific categories. However, if you asked me six months ago what I thought about women in sororities I would have likely said the same things.
In August of this year, I decided to step out of my comfort zone and go through sorority recruitment. I was very unsure of my decision because I'm not necessarily the typical sorority girl. I'm an introverted home-body, I don't party, and I'm not skinny or extraordinarily pretty. But I decided to try something new to make some new friends and have a way to get volunteer hours for my scholarship. I ended up joining Gamma Phi Beta sorority and my outlook on sororities and the women in them completely changed. I also learned a lot of valuable lessons about college life and being in a sorority in my first semester of college.
Being in a sorority is a huge time commitment and a lot of work.Giphy
I'm sure most if not all of us are guilty of assuming that sororities are just an excuse for girls to party and meet cute frat boys. I quickly learned that is not the case. There are mandatory weekly meetings for the entire chapter with a strictly enforced dress code. There are also usually anywhere from 1-4 other events each month in which attendance is either mandatory or highly encouraged. These events can range anywhere from a pajama party with another sorority on campus to picking up trash along Greek Row or a study session at the sorority house. If you miss one of these events without a formal excuse could lead to consequences. There are several rituals each semester and attendance to the ritual is absolutely mandatory. During Homecoming and Greek Week the entire chapter works tirelessly day and night on parade floats, banner art, and dance routines. The first lesson I learned during my first semester in a sorority is that it is very easy to spread yourself too thin. While being active and responsible within the chapter is very important do not forget that you are in college primarily to learn. Don't be afraid to miss an event (with a valid excuse, of course.) if you aren't feeling well or are behind on assignments.
Some people will judge you for being in a sorority. Those people aren't worth it.Giphy
When I announced to my "friends" at school that I was going through sorority recruitment I was met with a lot of criticism. A lot of the criticism was based around the preconceived notion everyone has of sorority girls. I kept them updated on my experience with recruitment in an attempt to show them that sororities aren't all that bad. I remember I sent a picture of my bid card to the group chat we were in and one of them responded: "that's the sorority for the rejects". I was hurt by this statement. Not because they called me a reject but because they didn't experience recruitment. They didn't know that was the only house I visited that I didn't feel like I had to be someone I'm not for the girls to like me. They didn't talk to the incredible women I talked to. Other people automatically assumed that because I was proudly wearing my letters that I was stupid, selfish, vain, or a slut. They just didn't get it. A lot of people just don't get it. Throughout my first semester, I learned that they don't need to "get" it. Joining a sorority was my decision and if I decided it wasn't for me I wouldn't still be a member. Nobody needs to understand my decision, they just need to accept it. If they can't accept it then they are not worth my time.
It does cost money but there are ways to make it work.Giphy
It's universally known that sororities can be very expensive. Members are required to pay dues to maintain membership in the sorority. However, do not let the financial aspect of sororities deter you from joining one. Sororities understand that college itself is already expensive and adding sorority dues to that expense can place lots of stress on a person. Most sororities have a financial vice president who is in charge of all financial aspects of the chapter. The FVP will take the time to work out a personalized payment plan that works best for you. If you are unable to make a payment on time they understand. The financial aspect of a sorority can be intimidating but it can be worked out.
There are LOTS of rules.Giphy
As someone who was under the impression that sororities were simply an excuse to party, I was shocked to find out that there are so many rules when it comes to partying as a sorority girl. Some rules are no brainers such as don't gossip about your sisters, no boys or booze in the house, no drinking in letters, etc. Then are some others that are kinda odd such as the infamous "no elevated surfaces" rule. There are also SOOOOO many secrets we have to keep that we cannot disclose to anyone not in the chapter. I would say that one of the most difficult aspect of being in a sorority for me is not being able to tell my mom and friends at home about all the secrets and how they make me love my sorority so much more.
Hazing is not okay.Giphy
Another huge factor that makes women not want to join a sorority is the fear of hazing. Hazing is defined as humiliating and sometimes dangerous initiation rituals, especially as imposed on college students seeking membership to a fraternity or sorority. I am very thankful that Missouri State University Fraternity and Sorority Life has eliminated hazing from campus and enforces a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to hazing. Most sororities no longer practice any hazing rituals and hazing is often prohibited by law or by the university or institution itself. Hazing in any situation is not okay. You cannot love and trust people who have intentionally hurt or embarrassed you. Real sisters do not haze. EVER.
There is no such thing as a "stereotypical" sorority girl.Giphy
When you hear the word "sorority girl" you most likely think of the pretty blonde girl in your Chem101 class who shows up every day with her Hydroflask or Starbucks cups wearing Lululemon leggings, a sorority t-shirt, Apple Watch, and Kendra Scott necklace. However, I can promise you that no two sorority girls are the same. Within my own chapter there are girls of different ethnicities, religious beliefs, majors, etc. Although sorority girls may seem like they are all the same there is so much diversity and no two sorority girls are exactly the same.
There is no such thing as a dumb sorority girl.Giphy
Believe it or not, one of the requirements to join and stay in a sorority is to maintain a good GPA. Most sororities have a set GPA that every member is expected to meet each semester. If you do not meet the GPA requirement you will most likely be put on some form of academic probation or face a consequence. The sorority will often assign someone within the chapter to find out where you are struggling and tutor you. If you greatly exceed the GPA requirement you will often be rewarded for your hard work.
You get out what you put in.Giphy
In order to get the full experience and enjoy the time spent in the sorority, you must make an effort to be involved in the chapter. This doesn't mean that the only way to enjoy being in a sorority is to be the president of the sorority, spread yourself too thin, or put the sorority before your education. However, you can't do just the bare minimum and expect to get the full experience of being in a sorority. Go on a bunch of sister dates and make an effort to personally know every woman in your chapter. Run for an elected or appointed position and give yourself a voice within the chapter. Attend and participate in the meetings. You will ultimately only get out of the sorority what you put into it.
The women in your pledge class will be your lifelong best friends.
I've never felt closer to a group of strangers than when I ran home on bid day with my new pledge class. I've always heard the idea that shared experience brings people closer. This idea was proven during my new member period. We'd see each other 2-3 times a week for a month or so. We were all experiencing something brand new and we used each other as a support system. We'd ask each other stupid questions and complain about how stressful college classes are. We'd always make an effort to say hi to each other and strike up a conversation if we crossed paths on campus. I remember sitting in the basement of the house with my pledge class the night before initiation and thinking "wow.... these strong, beautiful, intelligent, resilient, and witty women are going to be my sisters." and I got a little emotional. It is so incredibly empowering to have such a supportive girl gang that always has your back. I love every woman in my sorority, but Fall '19 will always have my heart.
Joining a sorority has been the best decision I've made in my college career so far. I've learned and experienced so much in just my first semester and I cannot wait to see where this experience takes me.