By Shannon Jones
We’ve all heard the stereotypes of the sorority girl: the pretty, popular, stuck-up girls that aren’t too sharp when it comes to education, but if you’re looking for a party, they’re the girls to go to. All these stereotypes have been reinforced through television and movies, so heading into my year abroad that is exactly what I expected to see once I hit my new campus – and thank god those stereotypes were so wrong.
I had no plans on joining a sorority once I got to America, but within a few days I was coerced by a fellow British exchange student to sign up and give it a go. And I can honestly say, even with the $72 fee to sign up for recruitment, (no, you don’t get it back if you don’t get into a sorority. And unfortunately the money only goes up from there), I would say it was money well spent. And with that, I was thrown into the sorority life and went through recruitment…two of the strangest weeks of my life.
“Holy cow!” Were my thoughts after the first night of recruitment. Imagine over fifty girls – all exceedingly happy, all incredibly enthusiastic, and all sporting grins – singing and cheering songs to you as loud as they can, and then having that happen to you NINE times each day. If that sounds fun to you, then sorority life is definitely for you. Recruitment is everything to sororities, so each one puts 110% towards putting on the best show and making a great first impression to recruit new members.
Eventually the singing isn’t so bad…or you just find a way to ignore it, and you come to learn a lot more about each sorority: their values, traditions, their mottos, and the philanthropy they choose to support. Taking all of that into consideration, as the weeks go on you come to figure out which sorority works best for you, and you’re in!…so long as that sorority, or any other sorority picks you up.
One thing I wish I had fully understood and known before joining was the financial commitments that comes with joining a sorority. Each sorority has a set amount of dues that each member has to pay, and if you plan on joining a sorority on your year abroad, you better get saving now – especially as dues can range anywhere from $600 plus per semester. The price isn’t cheap, but it’s definitely worth it in the end.
Now back to those pesky stereotypes. Yes, a lot of the girls in sororities are pretty and many are popular, but that is due to their presence on campus. Students in Greek life have one of the highest presences on campus, involving themselves in numerous clubs, societies, and the student government association – so naturally, they would be well-known. With the odd exception, (no need to get into that though) sorority girls are not stuck-up, and if you find a few that are, well, that’s life. But as far as I can tell you, they’re a bunch of cool, fun girls.
Now as for partying, in the words of the great Beyoncé: we like to party. Much like any other university student, from time to time, sorority girls like to party, and we know how to throw a party – but you’ll never catch a party or alcohol at a sorority house, as unlike fraternities, it is prohibited. But that doesn’t stop them from heading to a fraternity party, bar, or throwing their own party. Sorority parties, or ‘date parties’, are a big occasion and the build-up is just as big. Typically they will be thrown at a bar rented out exclusively for the sorority and any dates that each girl chooses to bring for the night, and I guarantee you will have a ball of a time. Plus each date party comes with a cool t-shirt to remember the event. What more could you want?
There are 3 qualities that you can find in any existing sorority
Without sisterhood, there is no sorority. Each sorority prides themselves on the sisterhood that they have with one another within their sorority, and much like my sororities open motto, each girl truly does live for each other. Something which is extended to girls in other sororities. Just think of it as one big happy sorority family.
Charity is a core value in Greek life, and each sorority and fraternity is committed to supporting their chosen philanthropy, and raising as much money for it as possible. When choosing a sorority to join, their philanthropy will tell you a lot about that sorority. But beyond that, most Greek organisations will do as much as they can to support their community.
Despite what you may hear, sorority girls any by no means dumb. Each sorority has a certain grade that must be met by its members each semester. If you don’t meet it, then you will be put on probation, which means no more parties or social events for you. And if the sorority as a whole fails to meet the grade, then the whole sorority gets put on probation. So, during the week, don’t be surprised if you see a herd of sorority girls in the library.
Understandably sorority life isn’t for everybody and going through recruitment, I came close to dropping out and giving up. But having joined, it definitely made my experience during my year abroad a lot better than it would have been had I not. Being in a sorority provided me with a home away from home and opened me up to many more opportunities, and still away from my ‘sisters’ the values, traditions, and motto of the sorority remain close to me. If you do plan on joining a sorority on your year abroad, try to find out as much information on the organisations at your university, save up, keep an open mind, and warm up those vocal chords as it won’t be long before they get you singing too.