Joining a sorority has been an unexpected experience, to say the least. I find myself questioning my role within the organization, and wonder if it was all worth it. Yet other times, I have felt so welcome and at home with my sisters. One thing is for sure; it is quite the experience, and no one will be able to understand until they have pledged and entered a Greek organization themselves.
I remember the first time I was introduced to a sister who later became my Big. When she first said the word “sorority,” my mind instantly filled with the negative stereotypes and connotations we all know. Partying, drinking, hazing, and always hanging out at frat houses. When I went to an informational and found out more, I realized that there was more to it.
Though it is somewhat of a clique, I found philanthropy and sisterhood. The girls of my sorority take this very seriously; spending countless hours and raising a considerable amount of money to local causes and charities. These donations go pretty far in helping the community, and I was very impressed with their commitment. However, the primary reason I joined was the networking opportunities and connections offered by Greek life. All of the girls were extremely involved in other clubs and programs on campus, often winning prestigious awards. Many alumnae of my sorority were working in my dream jobs and offered valuable advice and support. Once I joined, I realized just how dedicated and passionate the girls were to service and academics. The girls were not just trying to complete required service hours or fill quotas; they actually wanted to help and would put in extra time and effort for these events. Academics were also prioritized, and we would have study hours every week.
People always say that being in a sorority is like ‘paying for friends.’ While it is true that you pay dues, this is an expectation in several organizations; not just in Greek life. When I first joined, it did feel a little awkward and forced, but that’s how it is when you meet so many new people. The “sisterhood events” each month with other sororities and fraternities are a bit annoying and it is a hassle to show up to everything (you get fined if you don’t) but it can be a great way to get close with one another. Personally, I never felt the so-called “rivalry” between different sororities, although I know they exist.
Now, to the good stuff: pledging and hazing. Yes, it exists, and it can be so difficult.
But, it is nowhere near close to what it was “back in the day.” Even my Big had to go through hazing that was ten-times as difficult as mine, which is saying a lot. Girls are getting more and more brave and confident, so they can’t be coerced to do as much anymore. This is a good thing, because the whole hazing culture is problematic. Alums will always complain about that because they went through so much. They say that it’s not fair that we don’t go through the same, or “earn our letters” but Greek life is slowly evolving and multicultural Greek life is dying out. So, they must adapt if they want to recruit more girls.
What did we have to do? To join, we had to attend an informational and recruitment week event in order to receive a bid (invitation). Then, we filled an application and had an interview. Once we were in, we had a sort-of class once a week with assigned essays, projects, and lists of things to memorize. They would quiz us each week, and we would have tests and homework. Honestly, my pledge class was not that passionate, and we would work on this homework the morning of class, which would meet late night on Wednesday’s. We were not allowed to wear the colors of our sorority while pledging, and there were fines if we were late/missed class. They wanted us to do some things that were against OU’s policy; however I complied because it wasn’t awful, and I just wanted to be done with the whole thing.
However, towards the end, I felt the time and money commitment were too much, and the whole thing was not what I expected. I thought it would be fun, but there was a lot more work involved than I had anticipated. I felt overwhelmed and was so close to quitting. However, we were so close to the end, so I forced myself to get through it. When we got to the end, we had big reveal and our sorority showered us with presents at our crossover. The ordeal was over: I was in! I felt so proud and accomplished. Once I was a member, we had to go to chapter every week and discuss upcoming events and businesses related to our sorority. I ran for some positions and won. It’s a lot of work, but sometimes it can be worth it.
In sum, joining a sorority was a lot different than I expected. As with anything, there are some drawbacks and some positive benefits. It’s important for the OU Greek community to understand that for some, these opportunities are inaccessible. The amount of work involved in pledging may need to be reconsidered for sororities and fraternities to appeal to a broader audience.