If you're expecting to hear about The Secret Goat Ritual, sexy lesbian initiation rites, and our racist-classist-elitist rules, read on.
I can't believe I did it: I, impishlaugh, joined a sorority. I had my reasons; we all do. I left all my friends and family and moved to California. I moved to close the long-distance gap between me and my boyfriend and to attend school--a commuter school with 30,000 undergrads. I knew no one in California but my boyfriend. I love The Boy, but I knew that if I didn't get my own friends very, very quickly, my relationship would be toast. I did not want him to be my only means of social support. I tried making friends on campus, but commuters aren't interested in making small talk--they go to class and then they burn rubber to work. Three weeks into the semester, I was lonely, homesick, and frustrated.
The only people who talked to me were the girls at the sorority recruitment booths. Every day, they stopped me, said hi, complimented my goofy hats and kilts, and gave me flyers about their organizations. I was very amused when I realized that they thought I fit the Sorority Profile. I had a good laugh about it. And then I started sneaking peeks at the flyers during class.
So, to make a long story short, I rushed. Except it's not called rush anymore because that would be hazing. It's called recruitment now, and the most important thing I have to say about it is that it's very very exhausting and it makes your cheeks hurt because you fakesmile all day. There were two-hundred girls rushing six sororities, and this is how it worked:
On the first day, everyone came to school at 9 in the morning on a Saturday. The recruitees (I like that; it rhymes with fruitys!) were divided into six groups. The groups were led by Rho Gammas--sorority members who temporarily disaffiliate from their sororities in order to be impartial group leaders. The recruitees attended a 45-minute "party" with all six sororities. The settings were unnaturally controlled and eerily scripted.
"Hi! What's your major? Do you have a boyfriend? Where did you go to high school? What are you looking for in a sorority? What do you do for fun?"
We were passed along the girls so that we all talked to four sorority members at each party. It worked like a well-oiled assembly line, and it felt more than a little weird. At the end of the day we picked the four sororities we liked best and wanted to see again the next day. I liked that a lot--it wasn't just about them appraising us; we all appraised and dropped two of them. I knew who I wanted to drop--the two sororities that fit the sorority stereotype. They were stupid, blond, and hadn't heard of David Bowie or the Violent Femmes. Two sororities I liked. They were brunettes, liked art museums, and were big Cure fans. The two others I was neutral on, but I was willing to give them a chance.
Later that night, they debated about us and decided who to invite back.
The next day we met at school early in the morning and were given our "schedules." We would attend hour-long parties with sororities that we liked... as long as they'd liked us too. I was invited back to all 4 of the sororities I'd picked, but I felt bad when I saw a lot of girls crying. They'd been invited back to only one or two parties, and many girls hadn't been invited back to any! Later I found out that sororities cut girls who have low GPAs on the first day. If a girl had less than a 3.0 in high school or transfers in with less than a 2.5, she is cut. I felt better about sororities when I realized that they do care about their members earning grades.
We got to know the sororities better that day. The mingling was less mechanical and a lot more fun. I met a lot of girls I had things in common with. I met a Neil Gaiman fan, a Tom Robbins freak, another girl from Nashville, and two pre-law chicks. At the end of the day I felt like I'd clicked with two sororities. Recruitees cut two sororities at the end of the second day, and it was easy to make my choice.
On the Monday, the third day, we met in an auditorium at school in the evening, and we received new schedules. We had dinner with one sorority and dessert with the other. After dessert, we had to come back to school immediately and state our first preference and our second choice. I had dinner with the Alpha Xi Deltas, and I had a lot of fun with them. A girl named Lizzi "preffed" me, and the day before she and I discovered that we had a lot in common. I was happy to see her again, and dinner was pleasant. But after dinner they did a very touchy-feely ceremony. It was meant to make us feel welcome, but it made me feel uncomfortable. I'd only met these chicks three days ago! I didn't know what to think as I headed off to dessert with the Kappa Kappa Gammas. Dessert with them was laid-back, and after we ate we mingled in the backyard for a long time. I talked to a lot of different people, and none of it was stilted. Before we left they sang a song, but it wasn't as personal as the ceremony with the AXiDs. I felt more comfortable with the Kappas, and ordering my preferences was easy.
I picked up my bid after school on Tuesday, and I was happy but not surprised that I'd gotten a bid from Kappa. That night the Kappas held a barbeque at the Kappa house to welcome the new members (We're not called pledges because it's HAZING!). The next week my big sis was revealed to me (She was an ironic choice, since I'm 3 years older than her and half a foot taller!). Her purpose was to make me feel welcome in Kappa and help orient me to sorority life. I didn't spend much time with her, though, since most of the activities I took part in were done exclusively with my pledge class. We had a sleepover; we went camping; we had special new-member meetings since we couldn't take part in ritual until we were initiated.
It was all kind of a blur because I was so busy with school, and that has always been my first priority. I saw the Kappas during planned activities, but I didn't have time to randomly hang out in the evenings or on weekends, and I didn't go to frat houses since I wasn't interested in meeting fraternity boys. The anti-hazing policies are so strict that we couldn't do a lot of things--even things we wanted to do, like scavanger hunts. That's one thing I learned quickly in Kappa: Stories about hazing, or at least hazing within Kappa, are either completely made up or are embellished accounts of things that happened 50 years ago, when hazing was still common. Our "pledge mom" made sure that nothing wild or dangerous ever happened. The one big problem I had was that at first our activities seemed very forced. It felt weird for strangers to suddenly be acting like sisters, and I didn't like it. I almost dropped out twice before initiation, and looking back, I'm not sure why I stayed. I was not comfortable with the group yet. We were finally initiated in October, and I felt like I hadn't gotten to know the girls very well. I also felt like that was my own fault. I hadn't been making time for the girls. I was excited about living near my boyfriend after being apart for two years, and we spent most of our free time together.
By the way, initiation was not weird, scary, or seen on Girls Gone Wild. And it did not involve a blood sacrifice, which disappointed me a little.
In December the Kappas held officer elections, and I was shocked when I was nominated and then elected to the position of Scholarship Chair. They really liked me! I went off for Christmas break feeling a new sense of excitement about sorority life. When I came back to school in the spring, that feeling grew. I spent a lot more time with the sorority because my position as an officer required it, and I finally got to know everyone well enough that I felt comfortable with them all. Soon that comfort turned into affection. I think I now have what can be called sorority pride.
Kappa won Greek Week last month. We won best overall in intramurals this spring. We just had more people initiated into Order of Omega, the greek honor society, than any other greek organization on campus. In April we held a golf tournament that raised $5,000 for the Susan G. Korman Breast Cancer Foundation. I say this because it demonstrates that we do not spend all of our time drinking or fucking frat boys. I am very excited about being part of an organization that helps others, and I'm especially happy when I see my sisters succeed.
We are a diverse group. Sororities have a reputation for being rich and white, but only half of our members are Caucasian--and most of us use payment plans to pay our dues because we couldn't afford to be members otherwise. Some of our women are straight-A students. Other women are struggling to keep their grades up. It's true that some of us like to drink. But others spend most of their time at the library (me!), playing sports, supporting charitable causes, or planning sisterhood events. Ninety-nine percent of us conduct ourselves with self-respect, but one girl in particular has trouble acting like a lady around the fraternity boys. Sororities are like any other group. Some members are straightlaced, and others are naughtier. The rumors and stereotypes are not true. Let's be realistic; there's always a bad egg. But those girls are not representative of sorority women as a whole. Most of the college women doing really stupid things aren't in sororities--because they didn't have the grades to get in! No, the rumors are not true.
Except the ones about those Alpha Phis. Those are all true.
Haha. I tricked you! THERE IS NO GOAT RITUAL!