As August is creeping upon us, it means that school will be starting soon! And, for all my National Panhellenic Sisters, that means recruitment is well on its way (at least for MOST of you, I know some schools do recruitment in the spring).
For all you ladies, freshman or transfers, that are maybe questioning what Greek Life is about, this post is FOR YOU. And for the people who might lack knowledge on Greek Life in general, this is ESPECIALLY for you as I am about to drop some knowledge on the reality of what a sorority is.
A little bit of background:
I was 18, got into a 4 year University, and all I wanted to do was make friends and get involved. My school is a commuter school and it’s by the city so it’s not exactly super school spirited; the community isn’t that strong and a lot of people don’t live on campus, therefore, my goals of making friends and being involved was a difficult challenge and it was more challenging because I was shy. However, my first ever college roommate, Jessica (she’s awesome guys), was the one who introduced the thought of joining Greek Life to me. When her Dad was in college, he was in a Fraternity and gained so much networking opportunities that he’s still in touch with some of this Fraternity members to this day. She was the one who made me come out to the info night and sign up for recruitment. Before, when people said “Greek Life” or “Sorority/Fraternity”, I thought about all the horrible things you see in the media – crazy partying, lack of academic achievements, bullying/hazing, etc. It was because of these things that I THOUGHT that I was totally not interested in joining. Then came recruitment and I fell ABSOLUTELY in love with the REAL idea of what a sorority was: an organization of amazing women who provide you with long-life friendship and support as well as real-life experiences that help prepare you for the future. Four freakin’-awesome years later, I finished my last semester as a collegiate member and am now sharing with YOU what a sorority is all about.
Myth: “You pay for your friends.”
No matter what organization you join, you pay dues. You wanna join the community service organization? Well you have to pay a $20 membership fee. Sorority is the same exact concept, but the membership fee is just…well, much much larger than that. BUT, there are many reasons why. Personally, my sorority, Alpha Phi International Fraternity, is an “all inclusive” organization. “All inclusive” meaning that you would never have to pay anything extra for an event happening; for example, everyone’s favorite event: Formal. The bus ride to and from the venue, the food, the spot for your date, and so on is all paid for in your dues. That sisterhood event that’s coming up? That’s paid for in your dues. You don’t have to worry about any extra payments to go to an event other than just paying your membership fee. So what you’re really paying for is to do cool stuff. The friendships you make, however, are completely authentic and genuine. There are plenty of women who maintain incredibly strong, long-lasting friendships all because they had an opportunity to meet through organizations like the ones the Greek Life provides. Real friendship and support like the ones made in sororities are priceless.
Myth: “It’s all about the partying/boys.”
Sorry, but L.O.L. people. Sororities themselves are for the most part “dry” meaning they don’t serve alcohol at events (and trust me, to even get wine served at a classy gala event held by a sorority has to go through crazy paperwork, advisor approvals, and risk management). You are in college and, chances are, 90% of people at your school are probably partying. And majority parties don’t “go through” Greek Life. Plenty of parties happen and word gets out to a lot of people. But when one person in Greek is invited, they come with all their close friends who might just be fellow Greeks. And truth is, the male fraternities might just throw a party, but many times, all girls (Greek or G.D.I.) are welcome (sorry, boys). So if you think a sorority hosts big ragers under their organization and think that that’s all they do, then you have it all wrong.
Myth:”Your grades get worse.”
If you were to look up the GPA of most Greek Organizations, I think you might be shocked at how intelligent the women in sororities are. Heck, for the past 3 years, my chapter has has a cumulative GPA of 3.2. I’ve even seen so many crazy achievements from women who go on to do amazing things academically and with their careers. Anyway, sororities often have a position called the “Director of Academics/Scholarship”. This lucky person gets the special job of motivating and rewarding every woman who succeeds academically. Some things that were implemented were a required number of time-recorded studying hours, cookies as rewards for every proof of an “A” on a test or paper taken, gift cards for those who never skipped class as well as those who recorded the most hours of studying each week. I had the honor of this position my first year in Alpha Phi and I suggest, if you’re a new member and want to get involved with a leadership position, Director of Academics is a GREAT way to go (:
Myth: “It doesn’t help you in the real world.”
We all know that in an organization, there’s a President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, etc. or at least some form of a leadership model/structure. What most people don’t see or know is the actual intensity of the structure is and the extensive duties each must fulfill and all the other opportunities that can be extended to you upon joining large organizations such as National Panhellenic Sororities. From Director of Academics, I was elected President the next year and little did I know what I was in for, but, boy, it sure did prepare me so much for the real world and I loved every minute of it. But here are a few things you didn’t know about the amazing leadership foundation, growth, and preparation this experience gave me and, I’m 110% sure, to many women across the country. I had to oversee 6 departments who executed numerous events such as scheduling for community service, philanthropic events, sisterhood bonding, and so on. Every woman in a leadership position had to plan detailed events, keep open communication with their VP, me, advisors, international headquarters, and any venue/food/merchant they worked with. They had to create risk management plans, stay within a budget, and satisfy a group of 130 women’s needs that were going to attend whatever they had planned. Even if a woman didn’t have a designated position, there were committees to join and that also gives a large amount of experience. Sororities also allow you to go to conferences in your area that allow you to meet other women-leaders who want to accomplish amazing things and to learn from scheduled seminars to learn how to execute your ideas. I went to a biennial convention where I met all 165 Chapter Presidents at their Universities with their Volunteer-Advisors as well as inspirational women who were recognized for their incredible achievements not only in their career but to their services to the U.S. and the world. I remember one key speaker, Emily B., was a student from Duke University, an Alpha Phi sister, who at 19 was the mission director and lead mechanical engineer for a multimillion dollar Time Capsule to Mars project with NASA. One of my sisters has done above and beyond in marketing jobs and I honestly can’t think of something she hasn’t done yet because she really has done everything (worked with Giants and Super City, etc.) Girl is a LinkedIn QUEEN and gave us a little workshop on how to better our own profiles. Her name is also Emily and I feel like she can honestly epitomize “hard-work”. It is women who are like both Emily’s that have drive and passion to do great things that join entities like a sorority and come out with a community of awesome networking, life-long support, and recognition for continual achievement.
I can’t speak for other states, but, in California, there is a law against hazing or any acts that can be considered has hazing. Universities in California take it seriously and at my University, at least, the entire Greek community had to sit in a seminar that talked about that law and why it’s in place and we also had to sit in on extra seminars talking about Title 9, overseeing the Health of the Chapter, being a bystander, etc. National Sororities everywhere also seriously discourage hazing which is why they’re so strict and detailed with our vocabulary-usage (i.e. new members instead of pledges) and risk management papers. We really DON’T do it. When I joined Alpha Phi, I only was asked by older members to hang out, study together, get food, or go explore the city, and often they paid for me if money was involved. We also were rewarded with free stuff if we educated ourselves about the history and values of our sorority. When I got my Big Sister, it was like a whole week of being showered with love and goodies which I got to do for my 5 Littles whom I love a whole lot! (S/O to Natacha, Michele, Ashlee, Kennedy, Saoirse, and my grands/great-grandlittles. Love you, little sunshines!)
Myth: “They’re only into themselves.”
This one gets to me quite often. Like I’ve said before, sororities do MORE than just events like Formal or sisterhood bonding. There are philanthropic events, community service, and, heck, we had a department devoted to Campus Affairs which helped our sorority stay informed about things happening at school and in the community as well as encouraged us to support our school teams, student government, the nearby high schools or community centers, other greek organizations, and so much more. Many girls were even involved and had high positions in other organizations. We’re all regular women with just an extraordinary support system of other motivated women with limitless dreams. There’s no reason for a girl to give you the cold shoulder, not help you out, or snub you. And if they do, they are unworthy of the letters they represent.
Sororities are really fun and worth-while, so if you’ve been debating on signing up for recruitment or haven’t even thought about doing so before, I hope this encourages you to do so and to research which sorority is best for you! We all have opportunities to do great things and joining something like this is just another milestone to help you in achieving those things with other people like yourself. I loved my experience so much and wouldn’t have changed it for the world. And to all my Eta Theta Chapter sisters that might just be reading this: I love you and keep up all the amazing things you’re doing!
If you have any other questions on the topic of Greek Life, leadership, other myths I never mentioned, or even about my own sorority, Alpha Phi International Fraternity, feel free to comment below!
Alpha Phi Mission Statement
“Alpha Phi is a sisterhood of women supporting each other in life-long achievement.”