After what was a lovely day spent binging myself on Netflix and avoiding my looming finals week, I happened upon a video that I knew I wanted to address as soon as I saw it (literally, I just exited out of watching the video for the first time). The video claims that sororities are cults.
Webster's dictionary has four different definitions of the word "cult." One definition is a new slang version of the word: a person or thing that is popular or fashionable, especially among a particular section of society. Hmm, not bad.
The second definition is what I am assuming the maker of this video was referring to: a system of religious veneration and devotion toward a particular object or figure. LOL. I really hate to use texting language in a serious article, but I had to actually laugh out loud at that one. "Religious veneration and devotion toward a particular object or figure." Kappa Delta is not an object or a figure. Oh no, honey.
When I first joined Kappa Delta, I noticed a few odd things that might be construed negatively from an outsider perspective. My new "sisters," had a creed, a purpose, and an object that they all knew word for word and ideals that they held so dear. The sisters all wore Kappa Delta's crest on their clothing and had a secret saying that non-initiated members weren't allowed to know the meaning of. The idea of a secret initiation was terrifying to me.
Here I am with three generations of new KD's in my family line, and I can safely say that KD is far from a cult. The purpose of Kappa Delta Sorority is to promote true friendship among the college girls of our country by inculcating into their hearts and lives those principles of truth, of honor, of duty, without which there could be no true friendship. That is one of my favorite parts of KD history. Nowhere in any new member handbook or piece of KD history are we ever told to worship Kappa Delta. What we are taught is to love those within our circle and without our circle. Last time I checked, cults were pretty into exclusivity?
Kappa Delta wants its members to be better citizens, better leaders, better students, and better women. I have learned to put others (not just sisters) before myself. I have learned the meaning of responsibility and integrity. I have grown closer to God through fellowship with other Kappa Delta's. I have been in a completely different state and met a sister who I now keep in touch with regularly. Kappa Delta isn't an "object or a figure." My sorority is not a group of women, it is a circle of people who strive to be more honorable each day.
I wear my sororities crest proudly, knowing the secret meanings behind our history and all that our founders wanted to instill in our members. With all of the flaws you see on the news, I can honestly and assuredly say that Kappa Delta has changed my life for the better. It isn't my entire life, and I'm not devoted to the letters above all else. What I will never be ashamed of, is my relentless devotion to my fellow sisters. People are what I put my heart into, not objects.
Making a few notes about the video specifically:
1. "Establish front groups." The video notes that cults utilize front groups to hide their true purpose or to keep themselves afloat. This is true of many famous cults. I take serious offense, however, to our philanthropies being referred to as "front groups." Each sorority has a philanthropy (or more) who they devote their time and energy to. Interacting and volunteering with The Girl Scouts of the USA and Prevent Child Abuse America has been one of the best experiences in my college career. Through these programs, I was able to find a program that I am passionate about and will continue to support for the rest of my adult life. Sorority women don't just raise awareness or money for their respective charities, the charities change us in ways that we never expected.
2. "We have the secrets to self-improvement." No one can promise you that you will become a better person when you join a sorority. What I can say, however, is that you will be given every opportunity to reach your highest potential. Through Kappa Delta, I was able to receive a research fellowship, develop my photography business, and discover what I want out of a career in the future. No one promised me these things during recruitment, but you can't ignore the fact that joining a sorority will expand your network. That isn't a lie we cooked up to recruit members into our group, it's just a cold hard fact.
3. "Don't give recruits time to think." The video insinuates that we recruit members by preying on them in the moment without allowing them to take time on their decision to rush. Recruitment (at most schools) is a process which requires advance registration, strict guidelines set by the university, and a non-biased period of time for each non-member to reflect on their decision. The decision to join a sorority is not one made lightly or impulsively.
4. "Develop an 'us versus them' mentality. If you can't recruit your friends, cut off from them." Again referencing back to part of my sororities core values, "Through love of those within our circle, learn to know and understand better those without our circle." Sororities don't push you to be exclusive or cut off from the world; in fact, it's just the opposite. Part of my sororities' new member program taught us to "Enlarge our world." Greek women are leaders on campus and have just as many friends inside the chapter as they do outside of the chapter. I've met some of my now best friends through fellow KD's, most of whom aren't even in a sorority. Greek or not greek, it really doesn't matter.
I could talk about this video all day, but maybe you should watch it for yourself. Despite what many people may want to believe, my sorority is not a cult. Just like the Girl Scouts, a church, or a government agency, we have a set of values that we strive for and we have an undeniable bond between us. What we don't have is the desire to seclude ourselves from others or recruit new members to conform to our ways "or else."
"Kappa Delta stands ready not to change you, but to enhance the beautiful person that you already are."
I'll link the crazy video here, but instead of that, you might enjoy my chapter's recruitment video from last year (filmed and edited by myself.)