On The Topic Of Recruitment, Here's Why I Dropped My Sorority

On The Topic Of Recruitment, Here's Why I Dropped My Sorority

And why I don't regret being in it for the time that I was.


While Ohio State Starbucks locations are overrun with online orders from clumps of women wearing matching clothes and long lines of freshmen dressed in their unique versions of "snappy casual", I feel like now is a good time to share why I left my sorority last spring.

Shout-out to this hot new president who I know will take the chapter everywhere I wanted to.Madi Task

When I went through recruitment my freshman year of college, I wasn't entirely sure what I was looking for in a new "sisterhood". Neither of my parents graduated from a 4-year college so Greek life was going to be something that was entirely my own. Here were the thoughts going through my head during recruitment: 1) I'm a huge feminist, so what could be better than surrounding myself with a group of women that supported each other's diverse academic and career goals? 2) I'm a first-generation college student, so I figured that being a part of a group that had annual dues meant the majority of my peers had good familial career guidance when it came to post-college job prospects. 3) I love knowing everybody in my immediate community, and upon leaving my close-knit high school, I craved a similar feeling of knowing at least 200 people in a single given place. Making up 13% of the student body, Greek Life was a part of campus I wanted to be a part of in order to get that "classic", holistic college experience.

The question I remember throwing me off the most during recruitment was, "So have you found your family yet at Ohio State?" I knew they wanted me to express some kind of stress in finding the people who really got me, so they could flip it back on how their chapter could fulfill that for me, but the truth was that I had already found my home. My theatre organization (Off The Lake Productions, hey kids) gave me the friends I was picky about finding that first semester away from home. I was still in the honeymoon phase of that by the time I went through recruitment.

This genuinely made it hard for me to make personal connections with the girls I was talking to. You get older and sometimes, to be brutally honest, meeting new people can feel more like a burden than an exciting new friendship. Especially when you just left those best friends from home you've had around for years. I was looking for the copy of my best friends in these sororities, and I noticed that even if I found them, we didn't click just right. Or I saw them from across the room and didn't actually get to talk to them.

It wasn't until I talked to more women in Alpha Chi Omega that I realized what I wanted out of my sorority experience. I saw a chapter filled with diverse personalities. Every time I came back to the chapter I wasn't just talking to someone new, I was talking to a completely different set of personal goals, a unique but positive outlook on life, and a fiery, engaging personality. The thing I found in common with the women I talked to was their genuine interest in my personal story and the shared level of passion we had about completely different things. I talked about feminism and we were able to apply it to a variety of different fields. I talked about personal goals and growth and learned that some people experience growth in more painful or professional ways than others. I knew this chapter would be the one that packed the classic sorority experience (social events are included in any chapter you join on campus) but that pushed me to be whoever I wanted to be, as long as I kept that fire.

I knew I had room to grow in Alpha Chi, and in other chapters, it almost felt like I would be working just to keep up with the rest, or align myself to their structure. I learned a lot about leadership during my freshman year of college, and the women in Alpha Chi were some of the first people to ever tell me I would be good at leading something. I ended up becoming the Vice President of Recruitment for my sophomore and junior years at OSU.

It was being on the executive board that made me think critically about what it meant to be in a sorority, and what it meant to be in a sorority at Ohio State, specifically. I traveled to conferences and met with every other VP Recruitments for Alpha Chi in the country, and I learned more about our national rules as well as the variance in local rules from campus to campus. I was completely aware of the double-standards universities held for their fraternities vs their sororities. I am still very upset that fraternities can throw parties in their own homes and sororities can't even enjoy a glass of wine in their room, even if they're 21. But that's beside the point, and on the shallow side of my list of grievances.

The sheer amount of hypocrisy I saw in a system that treated its members like children, when the women in the chapter I knew were some of the most responsible, life-preserving, ambitious, respectable, and passionate women I've ever met, was frustrating beyond all belief. Being off of the executive board for the first time and hearing decisions being made that people felt like they couldn't push back against bothered me to my core. I've always been progressive, I've always been craving innovation and creation, and good old fashioned recreation, and it seemed like no matter how good of an idea a chapter member had, there was some kind of meaningless red tape in the way that stopped these ideas from happening. Members of my chapter, it seemed to me, found their freedom outside of the chapter in leadership opportunities elsewhere on campus. We were all over-involved in other things besides the sorority itself. Some sororities have members that commit to the sisterhood, they commit to the fun, to the community, and to each other. They will go around the rules, dig under them and hide there, or outright play along. My sorority rode the line of trying to make every change we could without pushing buttons or self-crucifying ourselves, and I was not ready to be placed back into captivity.

I constantly compared my experience to those of fraternity men I knew, on or off campus, who had fun unapologetically and lived a strikingly different life from the women in sororities though the two are supposed to work hand-in-hand. I couldn't be a part of a feminist organization that was so strikingly different from its male counterparts, when I knew from conversation and observation that we wanted to have the liberty to do much of the same things without such juvenile oversight.

I never left because I disliked the sisterhood, I left because my morals were competing with each other and I didn't want to spend my senior year feeling trapped in a system I knew from the start I wanted to be a part of changing. (I felt this way since freshman year when I joined, as did many of my pledge class sisters. We even shared around this New York Times article a couple months after joining, and yes, I did scroll back all the way in the GroupMe to find it in 2016.)

I still agree that sororities today have worked their way back to their feminist roots, but they're not entirely there yet. Being a part of a group that I knew I was too busy to contribute to my senior year (I have two jobs, an executive board position in OTL, classes, and a newfound decision to spend whatever free time is left on myself and my closest friends, one of which is an Alpha Chi), so I left to avoid causing friction and being the main source of pessimism in the chapter. Looking in on the women in the chapter now, I know they are still making progress. And I know I still made the right choice 4 years ago, my time to move on just came earlier rather than later, and I learned that your mental health will thank you when you take the pieces you know you want to keep (the people) and lose the pieces you know were causing you stress (the system).

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My Sisterhood Is Not Your Joke

Between stereotypes and laughing at our traditions, the teasing needs to stop.

It doesn’t take a genius to realize that sororities are unlike any other organization. Each sorority is different, and every chapter has its own unique traditions. It is hard to understand why we do the things we do if you aren’t involved in Greek life. But because my sisterhood is different than your social group or service committee does not make it the brunt of your jokes.

Sorority girls are smart. We aren’t airheads who put our social lives before our grades. Most sororities require members to maintain a certain GPA. In some cases, girls who fall below a required academic standard have minor consequences to face. Sisters help each other study, attend class together, and encourage each other in academics. Many sorority girls go on to be successful in scientific fields, hold positions of authority in business endeavors, and impact lives of others no matter their profession.

I didn’t buy my friends nor am I in it for a resume builder. “Did you join a sorority so you can buy your friends because you can’t get them on your own?” This is my favorite. If I were in a sorority to buy my friends, my sisters would be a getting a whole lot back in terms of monetary compensation. As it turns out, you get so much more than money from a sorority. Because I joined a sisterhood, I have made my best friends. These girls will be there for the rest of college and hopefully the rest of my life. There is not enough money in the world that I could give them in return for their love and company. I also didn’t go through recruitment to build my resume. Yes, it definitely is a benefit to be a part of an organization that is nationally known in terms of service and leadership opportunities. But no, that’s not why I joined.

We don’t get drunk and hook up with guys every time we go to a party. You might think it’s funny to ask me every time I come home from a party how many shots I took or how many guys I made out with, but it’s not. Things like this happen at parties, but that’s just how college is. It’s not specific to Greek organizations. I have never been told so many times that underage drinking is not allowed than I have by my sisters. Also, not every party or social event is some huge rager with obscene amounts of drugs and alcohol. In reality, very few of them are. A lot of social events held across Greek communities are really casual and for the purpose of just getting to know each other.

‘Big’ and “Little” aren’t just cute nicknames. My Big is my mentor, my best friend, and my family. Yes, I will always call her Big. No, that doesn’t just mean she was assigned to me after I signed my bid card. She didn’t pull my name out of a hat one day and decide she liked me. We were paired together because our personalities matched and because we would help each other grow and become the best members of our chapter that we could be.

Yes, my letters are everything. I cannot count the number of times someone has made a joke about the hand signs sorority girls hold up in pictures, better known as “throwing what we know.” Yes, it’s silly, but it’s important. Throwing what we know is a way for each of us to make our mark and to remember the moments we’ve shared with our sisters. It reminds me that everywhere I go, I am representing my sisterhood and the values we uphold.

We keep the most important things a secret. Sorry, no matter how much you poke and prod, I am not going to tell you our initiation ritual. This is the most important moment of being a member of a sisterhood, and it isn’t to be shared with people who don’t appreciate it. Keeping these special moments safe within the sisterhood is a way that the members draw closer together. Rituals and traditions are why a lot of girls join and choose to stay in a sorority. It’s how each girl connects to her sisters.

You will never understand what it means to be a sorority unless you join one. I’m not saying to go and sign up for recruitment right now because it isn’t for everyone. It’s important however, to realize that just because we do things a little bit differently than you might or we have some habits you might find odd doesn’t mean we need to be your jokes. We are not a stereotype, each sister is different, and if you took the time to meet us and listen to us talk about how much we love Greek life, you will see us all a little differently.

Cover Image Credit: Her Campus

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Sorority Formal Recruitment Is Much Tougher Than You Think, But Oh, The Things You Learn

Formal was by far one of the toughest things I have ever done, and I learned so much about myself and others in the process.


I had known that I wanted to be a part of a sorority since middle school. I'm an only child, so the thought of having a bunch of fun, beautiful sisters that I got to choose was fascinating to me. When applications were released to apply for formal recruitment for my university, I didn't hesitate. I filled out the application, paid the fee and waited patiently for spring semester, which is when our rush process takes place. I was so excited! However, that excitement only stood its ground for the first of the many rounds. I never expected something that seemed so glamorous and cheerful could be so hard.

There were a lot of tears.

I kid you not. I cried so, so much. Especially at the beginning of the second round. I remember the feelings of adrenaline and hope I had as my group's Rho Gammas passed out our schedules, then the feeling of pain and rejection I got as soon as I looked at mine. I was so not expecting the results that I got. I thought that the conversations I had with the many chapters all went well, but my schedule seemed to prove me wrong. I sat with my Rho Gamma while bawling my eyes out for about 20 minutes before deciding to keep going and give the chapters that wanted me back for that round a better chance.

Twenty-five minutes really isn't that long, especially if you're judging someone's character.

I'm not too sure how it works at every school, but at mine, the first few rounds are a mere 25 minutes long. This amount of time really only gives the sorority a chance to ask your name, major and other basic questions before you are already getting rushed to the next chapter. It's very overwhelming for both the PNM and the sorority member doing the interviewing, and after visiting a few different chapters during welcome round, I realized that my conversations at each had been pretty similar. This is one of the many reasons that I was so hurt after receiving my second round schedule. I didn't understand how those chapters simply decided they didn't want me after asking such general questions.

My confidence was certainly tested.

Before participating in formal recruitment, everyone is told the same, basic things. "Be yourself!" and "Smile!" I made sure to do these things at all times, so this was why my confidence was so shaken after going through the first few sets of rounds. If I was being myself, happy and outgoing, then why didn't these chapters want me in their rounds? I am usually a pretty confident girl, but receiving schedule after schedule and seeing which sororities didn't want me was quite heartbreaking. I went home each day and cried — a lot.

My mom tried to understand what was going on, but since I am the first in my family to even attend college, this was difficult. I reflected on each conversation I had to try and see where I went wrong or where I messed up, and I judged each outfit I put on until I had changed for the fifth time. I probably ran a straightener over the same piece of hair until it was perfectly pin-straight. My poor, blonde hair.

Girls can be really mean, but there are some nice ones out there.

I remember I was standing in line ready to go into one of the chapters, when I really liked a girl's outfit. So naturally, I complimented her. This girl proceeded to get offended and give me a dirty look, just because I offered her some kind words, and this was not the only time something like this happened during rush. I silently observed as countless girls talked bad about other girl's outfits, other PNMs in general and even some chapters. This broke my heart even more.

In my mind, the girls I stood by in line were likely to be my sisters in the future, so I didn't view it as a competition, but many others did. I tried making conversation with some of these girls, but many of them were not interested in conversation. Formal recruitment really made me realize that the "mean girl" didn't end in high school for several people.

Even though I encountered many mean girls, I still met some really kind ones. I am happy for these girls because I don't think I would have continued with the process if I hadn't met them. Something as simple as someone complimenting my hair during a round and something as big as my Rho Gamma comforting me into continuing with rush really seemed to benefit me.

Speaking of Rho Gammas, talk to yours if you need someone.

They really mean it when they say that they are there if you need them, and I did. I wanted to drop so many times because the stress and heartbreak was just so much. However, my Rho Gammas let me know how much their chapters changed their lives and how grateful they were for continuing with recruitment. They knew firsthand just how hard this process can be for a girl, so I really took their advice into consideration.

Don't read the comments online

You may feel tempted to go online and see what everyone has to say about each sorority, but I strongly advise against this. Today, all people have to say about several organizations, especially Greek ones, is purely negative, and this is so sad. I would read through endless posts of hate and wonder why people always have to be so negative, especially online. I especially saw a lot of hate going on between Greek organizations online, and this is so alarming.

I am more than just a number.

Yeah, so the name tag that I wore through each round had a certain number on it. Yes, this is the one they used to define me. However, I had to keep in mind that I was more than just that three digit code. I was a whole person, smiling with lipgloss-smothered lips, ready to impress.

In the end, the only thing left to do is "trust the process."

This three-word phrase was said over and over (and over) to us so many times throughout the recruitment process. Many of us refused to listen for a while. It was so hard to put so much trust into a process that made zero sense. As the end got near, though, I really was able to see which chapters wanted me back, and this meant a lot.

Yes, it really did hurt when I got rejected by chapters that I really saw myself in, but in the end, I want to be in the one that wants me back.

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