I've been a member of this sorority/women's fraternity since my freshman year, and it's time I talk about it.
As a disclaimer, the life of this sorority woman has not been rainbows and butterflies, but I still choose to take the time to smell the roses. I am a young, grown, Black woman, a graduating senior, and future alumnae. I cannot speak for the experiences of other sorority women, however, I do speak for myself.
To start the first post of this brand-new Alpha Gam blog strong, I will tell you one central fact about myself; I value honesty above all else.
There would be no point in writing about my sorority experience for the world to see if my purpose was to persuade someone to change their mind about sorority life or to spread propaganda.
The stories I share may be the inspiration for a young woman to take the chance and join a sorority. The lessons I’ve learned may help someone (who has no interest in Greek life) survive another day while in college.
Despite my many identities and the many challenges I have overcome, being an Alpha Gam has been one of the most influential aspects of my college experience.
In order for me to expect honesty from others, I must first be honest with myself. When it comes to these posts I will take the time to understand my true feelings and accept that these feelings are valid.
I’m just going to put this out there, I never envisioned myself as a member of a sorority. Growing up, I never dreamt of wearing Greek letters on my chest, learning chants, or attending chapter meetings on a weekly basis.
The select group of friends I made my freshman year all went through the formal recruitment process and joined the same sorority. I did not attend *formal recruitment. Fortunately, none of them tried to pressure me into joining. I remember hearing girls scream across campus, for hours at a time. It reminded me too much of Scream Queens or those spring break stories on the news of “college girls gone wild”.
I thought people only joined sororities to make friends, and I didn’t need anymore. However, something made me give them a chance during the spring semester. I believe that my friend group being made of sorority women caused unconscious changes to my personal biases against Greek life.
My friends didn’t fit the image of stereotypical sorority girls. They weren’t all blond, or all skinny, or all rich, or even all white. They weren’t cliquish — case-in-point they didn’t abandon me when they joined their sorority — and, even now, they’re all geeks and nerds.
I decided on the last day of *informal recruitment to pop in and see what all the hubbub was about (yes, this is how I really talk). I was a bit sick, nauseous even, and was taking a walk around campus. I checked my email on my phone and remembered that the sororities were still recruiting.
I thought to myself, why not? At this small, liberal arts college informal recruitment may be different than at the large universities, however, it was the perfect recruiting space for someone like me.
As a freshman, I was practically still a baby, in the way that 18-year-olds can be. I was an anxious mess, hopping from one activity to the next, trying to find where I belonged. I missed having one thing to be committed to, and I missed the structure provided from my upbringing.
After talking to women representing the four Panhellenic sororities (there was a Pan-Hellenic sorority on campus but that’s a story for another day) I realized that women in sororities are normal people. Each sorority had its own vibe, with members having very clear personality similarities. For example, the Alpha Gam table was full of lively women who brought me out of my shell and quickly made me excited to be there.
I had to sit down a few times, and someone brought me a lemonade, but I forgot about all that when I started talking about volunteering with the Chicago Food Depository or the Head Start program that helped me realize I want to work with children.
I had something in common with every Alpha Gam I met, and just like that, I was hooked. I met with various officers to learn more about the leadership opportunities, and, despite being asked whether or not I was positive about my decision, I had no intention of changing my mind. Once I want to do something, I do it.
It was a bit impulsive. I do not believe I genuinely understood the commitment I was making by joining my sorority, however, I do not regret my decision.
*formal recruitment: the main sorority recruitment event; every day is themed for potential sorority recruits and each sorority has its own sisterhood and set of traditions they share with these potential new members.
*informal recruitment: the more casual sorority recruitment event; there are fewer available spots for potential new members, however, the experience is often more personal.