*Disclaimer: I want to start this post by saying that this is about my own personal experience in the greek life organization I decided to join at my specific university. It does not reflect the views or experiences of greek life around the country or at any other college or university.
One to be loyal, two to be faithful, three to honor thy loyal name….. Joining Greek life was like joining a cult. Everyone had a secret chant, a secret handshake, they wore the same things, and if you did something they didn’t like they singled you out to make you feel like you were a freak. This is my experience in Greek life and all of the reasons that it just wasn’t for me.
I had wanted to join Greek life from the moment that I started applying to universities for my Bachelor’s Degree. I had just graduated a two-year college (totally the way to go) with my Associates in Science degree when I was 25 years old. Attending a university meant having freedom, an experience that I was never able to have, and growing apart from the guy that I was with. It meant being more financially independent and really finding myself through clubs, organizations, and new professors. I never had that fresh out of high school university party with my friends experience. I flew through my childhood landed in the world of being 17 and then fast forwarded to being an adult, it was a crazy and wild ride. Joining Greek life meant that I could fit in and really find my place on campus, to me it also meant networking and being part of something that was bigger than myself. I was wrong, on so many levels, in so many ways.
The recruitment process lasted for 3 days, but because of a snowstorm I was trapped in my friends home and missed the first day. The second day was pretty spectacular but I felt so upset that I didn’t attend the info session, which would have introduced me to all of the Greek organizations on campus. Day two consisted of meeting the organizations in a more intimate way, which allowed for you to learn their secrets and desires. When I came back for day 2 because I missed the first day I only had 2 bids, which means that the organizations that were interested in me gave me pieces of paper with their names on it. I went to the first room of an organization that I truly believe I should have joined instead. There were crafts and the girls went from table to table talking about themselves and the organization and asking questions about me, my desires, and everything that I loved. The girls were really nice but it felt impersonal like something was missing. They had a presentation that shared their mission and values but it was boring, the tables were bare and listening to a presentation like I was in a college classroom wasn’t my idea of a good time.
It was time to enter the next Greek life organization room which earlier in the day began with the girls asking the same questions, telling me about themselves, and asking about who I was. At night the meeting was more intimate and made me feel a real connection with the organization. We entered a room lined with girls holding candles, and humming their secret sister song just like the movies. We sat in chairs next to one another after being escorted by the girls and proceeded to listen to them chant until it was time for them to take turns reading. They talked about their organization, why it was so special to join, they read a letter from a sister who had mental health issues (which made me cry) and then they gave us a pearl. “My Wish” from Rascal Flatts started playing (which made me cry again) which is a song that I relate to for so many reasons, and each of us stood up, walked to the podium and placed the pearl in a tiny bowl of water which was symbolic for a reason that I can’t remember. I, of course, dropped my pearl on the floor and it bounced into the darkness.
The next day we came back and were each given a flower and an envelope with the sorority that chose us to join their “exclusive club”. We took the time to write down the organization that we wanted and if it matched up then that is the one that we joined. I got my pick, cried, and thought that this was one of the happiest days of my life. After we found out who our new organization was, we headed to the gym where we were greeted by sisters saying “welcome home”. I didn’t feel like I had a home, and that I hadn’t had a home in so many years. I thought that this organization was my home but after learning their secrets more than just their chants and secret handshakes I learned that Greek life wasn’t what I thought it was, and it wasn’t too far from what the movies show.
The best way that I can describe exactly why I left Greek life is to share my disaffiliation letter that I sent to our “leaders” of the organization. I have blocked the actual name of this organization:
“I was beyond excited about joining a sorority as a non-traditional student. Being 27 oftentimes I feel as though I can’t enjoy the things that other college students do, and joining (insert Sorority name here) was one of these things.
Our sorority stressed about the importance of professionalism, poise, academic achievement and sisterhood. I had high hopes for this organization but was quickly let down.
Last semester shortly after initiation I was assaulted. This impacted me more than I can say and it still impacts me today. I fell into a deep depression and started wondering how everyone would be affected if I wasn’t around anymore if I just disappeared and I wound up acting in a way that wasn’t like myself because I wanted to feel something other than feeling dead inside. Instead of reaching out to me, to make sure that I was okay and to speak with me about the way that I acted, 2 sisters went to our MAL. If you’re a sister you should act like a sister. Being a sister means looking out for one another- not “telling” on someone. These sisters could have come to me and talked with me but instead, they broke that trust. Sisterhood is not going around another sister. Sisterhood is comforting her and realizing or at least considering that her actions were because of her assault.
My first (insert Sorority name here) ball experience was horrible and filled with nothing but drama, secrets and again avoiding the sister involved; me. First I wanted to ask my dear friend my very best friend, who helped me through my assault (friend’s name) to our ball. I had reached out to Emily the sister who dated Kevin to ask if I could bring him to ball. Because I understand what sisterhood means I didn’t go behind her back and I didn’t invite him, I asked her first. Instead of getting back to me when she first read my message, she ran to the other sisters of (Sorority name) and it was brought up to standards. This was not a standards issue and the fact that the people involved acted so childishly and dramatically made going to ball extremely unappealing.
Because of this, I decided to give away my tickets to ball. One to a sister was set and transferred and the other was up in talks. As I was told I had to verbally say or physically write out and send that I wanted my ticket to be transferred. Without my say and agreement, the ticket should have still been mine. Instead of this happening the ticket was transferred to the sister and I was removed from ball, without the sister telling me that she would take the tickets. It was never confirmed to me, instead it was somehow confirmed to the one in charge of ball and therefore I was unable to attend. I didn’t mind that the sister took the tickets, what upset me was the lack of communication and that the sister in charge of ball didn’t confirm this before giving another sister my ticket.
The last and most disrespectful, childish, mean and disgusting thing that occurred is when our MAL overreacted at the sisterhood retreat. The sisters were singing along to various Disney
songs and musicals. We were also dancing because after all it was a retreat for the sisters to bond and so having fun was important. Our MAL came out of the kitchen and stated “If you don’t stop singing I’m going to kill myself”.” She made the entire evening stressful, uncomfortable and unpleasant for many of the sisters that night. At the meeting following the retreat, she went on to reprimand the sisters who were there, when it was her who should have been talked to, as she upset many sisters that night. She talked down to us and was completely insensitive and unprofessional. Suicide is not a joke especially since sisters in our sorority are sensitive about it. It is not a joke to me because it has affected me more than once in my own family. A MAL is supposed to be someone you can go to, but the sisters of this sorority are not going to speak with one that they do not respect or trust.
I’m not the only one who feels this way I am just the only one who is speaking up. I am not the only one who has seriously contemplated disaffiliating. Sisterhood is support, love, and compassion. Sisterhood is comfort, trust, and honesty. As I see it through my experience in (Sorority name) sisterhood is drama, immaturity and not supporting one another. Sisterhood is being insensitive. Sisterhood is disrespect and being shady.
I am ashamed of the things that have happened in this sorority and I am ashamed to represent a sorority on this campus that allows its members to act this way.
I joined this organization because I wanted friendship, to market myself and to get ready for the outside world.
I already have friends on campus, who would never go behind my back or hurt me or make fun of me for laughing or being myself. I already know how to market myself as I do professionally for my blog and work. I am already in the real world as a 27 year old professional.
I am at an age where I know how to recognize what is benefiting me or dragging me down and (Sorority name) is going the latter.
As you can see Greek life wasn’t for me and I only lasted one semester and one summer before I decided to leave. While my experience doesn’t reflect each organization across the country or on this campus it has given me the opinion that Greek life in the United States shouldn’t be allowed, especially because of hazing and the other horrible things that occur because of it. If you’re a favorite on my university campus, if you’re in Greek life or involved in other ways then you’re seen as being a “favorite” and you fit in. If you leave or you decide that it’s not for you then you’re outcast. When I left Greek life I noticed one major thing, that the women who said they would always be there for me left my side. My “family” in the sorority didn’t speak to me after that no matter how hard I tried to be friends with them. I would get dirty looks on campus, the MAL would keep her head down when she passed me on campus, and I saw first hand how sheltered the young people are in these organizations. Being 27 in this organization didn’t make me stand out, having morals and being a decent person did.