This weekend I went to my alma mater (cause I’m old fashioned) with my family in tow and spent some time with my sorority. People who know me probably aren’t at all surprised to hear that I was in a sorority. I suppose I’m stereotypical sorority girl material: white, upper-middle class, and all the stuff that accompanies that. Although, it must be noted that not all sorority girls are white and not all come from well-off families. But the stereotype persists and I fit into that mold so I’m not really the best person to say that it’s untrue (but it is).
I think there’s a belief among non-sorority people that we are dumb, promiscuous, and substance abusers. I knew very few women who fit any of those descriptors, and none who fit all. We are generally above average GPA among our fellow students and not any more promiscuous or substance abusing than any other 18-22 year old women who attend college. Why that belief still exists is really beyond me. If anything, I think that sorority women are above average on all counts, but I am a bit biased.
I think the idea that sororities are snooty clubs for rich girls comes from the process of choosing members. It’s called “Recruitment” now, but in my day and in conversation it’s still called “Rush”. Recruitment consists of “parties” where as many of our women try to talk to as many potential new members (I think that’s the term for them now) as possible. They try to talk about topics of importance and get to know the PNM as best as one can in a five minute period. It’s not ideal, but how else can you determine if a person will be able to be a good fit into a cohesive group of 100 others in a week and she’s got five other groups to also investigate? People think that we sit in a room and judge the prospective members on their body mass index and their daddy’s car. They think we reject women who have acne or wear patchouli just on principle. Of course, none of that ever enters the conversation, ever. EVER.
We did “rank” the women who “rushed”. We ranked them on their GPA, community service hours and school involvement. If we’re being elitist by wanting smart, community oriented, well-rounded women to join our club, then fine. All the people I know who now turn their noses up at sororities, would have been more than welcome, whatever they believe. We would have loved to have those women as members. I don’t know why they don’t like us; I don’t know why they think we wouldn’t have wanted them. We would have. We aren’t as judgmental as you think.
My sorority sisters were from all parts of the country, all kinds of backgrounds and had all kinds of talents. Some had two parents, some had one, some had four. Some worked all through college and some didn’t work a day (not even summers!). Some had a different boyfriend every week and some are still married to the guy they met the first week they stepped foot on campus (that’s me! on both counts actually).
Like guns, abortion and vaccinations for children, I’m sure I haven’t changed anyone’s mind about sororities. You believe what you believe and my little rant won’t change your mind. I just feel bad for the women who are there, working hard to raise money for a philanthropy they support and getting good grades, who are being judged for the behavior of a few who aren’t doing anything different than the football team, marching band or ski club (I’m talking about excessive drinking as a group mostly). It seems unfair that they don’t get credit for the good work they are doing and are only noticed when they make mistakes.
I’m a proud sorority woman. I’m proud of the women carrying in the organization into the future. I can’t wait for the day my daughters can join too. I hope it’s still there for them.