By Jamie Schafer – White Hall, MD
I’m a sorority girl. I joined Phi Sigma Sigma in October 2010 as a freshman. And, like many others, I have faced questions and stereotypes about greek life from everyone I meet. Today I would like to address some of my favorite (read: most annoying) B.S. ever spewed.
“Why aren’t you happy and peppy all the time?”
SURPRISE: Women in sororities are human beings who have emotions; just like the rest of the human race. Just because movies portray us as bubbly and constantly happy does not mean it is true. About 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year, according to Mental Health America. That number does not exclude sorority girls.
“But you don’t have blond hair and big boobs.”
I’d like to thank movies like “Legally Blonde” (love you, Elle Woods) for this one. Sorority women come in all shapes, sizes and colors. My sorority thrives on inclusiveness and was founded on the basis of just that! We don’t judge you based on your outward appearance, so please don’t judge us.
“All you do is party.”
To be an active member of my sorority I had to obtain and hold a certain GPA, be involved in two other clubs or organizations, clock a certain number of study hours each week, attend sorority meetings and events, attend classes and do community service. One thing has always been true: attending a party has never been a requirement for being an active member of any Greek organization.
I have friends who were not involved in Greek life, who partied more than I did, and I had sisters who never attended one party in four years of college.
“So you’ve been hazed?”
Does hazing happen in Greek life? Unfortunately, yes. But most sororities have a firm anti-hazing policy, and have never and never will haze a potential new member. Hazing is an unfortunate circumstance that certain people, not their organization, take upon themselves to commit.
“You’re in a sorority?”
No woman has to look or act a certain way to be a member of a sorority. Condoleezza Rice, Sally Ride and Katie Couric are all sorority women. They all have different appearances and have vastly different occupations. That is what I love about Greek life – our sisters all come from different backgrounds and bring something unique to the organization. There is no physical description checklist to get into my sorority, and that’s just how we like it.
“You only hang out and talk to other sisters.”
I don’t understand how this could be physically possible. How can you go to class, or work, or outside, and not speak to another human that isn’t in your sorority? Even if someone was successfully achieving that- they weren’t born into a sorority. You have to have some other form of human contact other than Greek life. I have friendships from classes, and high school and jobs and they weren’t from Greek life.
“So you lived in a house together and had pillow fights?”
In Baltimore County, more than three unrelated women living together in a house is considered a brothel. So, I personally did not live in a sorority house. But having lived in apartments with sisters surrounded by other sisters I can tell you that we never had one pillow flight. There was a pretty physical game of musical chairs once, a lot of wine nights, cuddling, crafting sessions, family dinners, pregames, and that one time we played cornhole in the hallway. But how is that any different from what “non-Greek life” friends do?
“You paid for your friends.”
What I paid for is an opportunity to be a part of a worldwide organization that would facilitate opportunities for me to flourish. Going Greek is what you make of it: you get out what you put in. I have sisters that dropped out and sisters who don’t have friends in the sorority because that is what they made of it.
I paid for an opportunity to serve my university and my community. I paid for my attendance in leadership conferences and seminars. I paid for a mentorship during my four years of college. I paid for my attendance in Greek life events such as formals and for Greek life apparel.
What I didn’t pay for was a group of girls who would drop everything to come to my side in a time of need. For moments that turned into memories. For a home away from home. For a family no matter what. For sisters of all ages all over the world. For unconditional love. For the tightest group of friends that will last a lifetime.
If I paid for my friends, I certainly didn’t pay enough.