This is the second in a multi-part tale of my experience with Greek life and sororities. This is not meant to offend, put down, or upset anyone about being in a sorority or being Greek (I was one too!). It is just my recount of how I became Greek and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.
I returned to UCF after Christmas in January to start my second semester of my first year. Having almost regretting the decision not to rush, I decided that this coming fall would be my year to rush. I knew that I’d be one of the few sophomores participating in recruitment, but much to my surprise a girl that was in my SPC1600 (Speech) class who was also in my Bible study group decided that she was going to rush too. She was a little shorter than me, naturally tan skin, beautiful face, and had long, curly black hair I once heard someone refer to as “an entire accessory in itself.” She had a laugh that could be heard and recognized in a lecture class of over 300 people. One day at our weekly Bible study, she overheard me saying that I was going to rush in the fall.
“Omigod, I’m gonna rush too!” she exclaimed. We both stood up and held each other’s hands and jumped up and down saying, “We’re gonna be sisters!”
It was a total exaggeration and pipe dream at the same time–we both knew the odds of both of us rushing and picking the same sorority who in turn would each pick us were slim, but we loved the idea of becoming sisters, even to dream. A few weeks went by and I didn’t see her at our weekly Bible study, but I ran into her campus one day in between classes. It was right outside of the Chick-Fil-A near the Student Union. “Omygoshhey!” she said, hugging me.
I hugged her back, and as I started to ask her, “How are you?” I saw something on her shoulder. A light khaki colored bag with three letters on it sewn in blue.
“Ohmygosh, what is this?! Some kind of joke?” I grabbed the bag from her shoulder. How could she be carrying a sorority bag with authentic sorority letters on it if there was no opportunity to even join the sorority–a small, tiny, easy process known as “formal recruitment?”
She ran her fingers through the top of her big curly hair, parting it to the left and laughed that trademark laugh of hers. “No, haha, it’s real! I just joined!”
I could see my puzzled face in the reflection of her big Jackie O sunglasses. “Wh–wh–wait. How?!” I managed to squeak out.
“Spring recruitment! It’s still going on now. It’s not advertised or anything. All week we’re meeting girls. I’ll invite you to the next event. Gotta go!” she whisked off into the mirage of people as I still stood in the corridor confused. She had become a “we.” She had that sisterhood already. All I knew at that point was that whatever she had, I wanted it. She and I were such similar people that it made so much sense to me for us to be in the same sorority.
I soon found out that this “spring recruitment” is a “hush-hush” term in the Greek world. My friend was right, it’s not advertised and it’s kind of like an “invite only” recruitment, if you can even call it that. It’s formal recruitment off steroids. If a sorority doesn’t make their quota during formal recruitment (determined by how many girls rushed and how many were given bids on the final day–it’s different every year), they can chose to have a spring recruitment. Basically, they hold small events such as pool parties, ice cream socials, dinners out, study sessions in the library, and so fourth, where sisters can invite who they choose to the events. If a current member thinks that “this person” would be great in the sorority, they invite them to an event, and if the girls like them, they’re given a bid. Pretty simple. Much, much easier than going to ten houses in the blistering Florida heat in August and being eliminated/eliminating each chapter one by one over five grueling days.
The first time I ever met the girls from her sorority was when she invited me to a lunch they were having outside on campus. It was a Wednesday I remember, because all the girls were wearing their jerseys. I walked up with my friend-turned-new-sister of this sorority and was introduced to the new member chairman who was sitting at one of the iron tables with an unmovable white “umbrella” overhang. She took down some of my information and I began to ask questions about it and met a few of the girls.
One thing I noticed right away was that each girl was so different. One girl was tall with a short, almost boy-like haircut and aviator sunglasses. Another was wearing a jean skirt with her jersey and had blonde hair and blue eyes. They were all interested in me and wanted to know more about me. The concept was weird, that essentially they were deciding if they liked me enough to join their group, but all I knew was that I had to be myself and nothing more. If they didn’t like me, it was their loss, right? The new member chairman said she would call me if they decided to hold any more events for PNMs (potential new members) to attend. I didn’t receive a call until a few days later when I was sitting at my desk in my dorm room.
“We’re having a study session in the library on the third floor if you’d like to come,” she told me. I looked down at what I was wearing. A tank top and sweatpants. My hair was pulled back into a messy bun and I barely had any make-up on. I figured I needed at least one more time to meet these girls, so I said okay.
“Sure, I’ll walk over in a few minutes,” I responded. I put on some jeans and flip flops and my baby pink Georgetown Hoyas sweatshirt and headed out the door. I met them on the third floor of the library and sat at one of the cubicles next to a few girls. We talked mostly–did absolutely no studying except perhaps a little statistics (my struggling subject). I don’t remember staying long at all because my boyfriend (at the time) came to take me up to the fourth level (the quiet level) to study for statistics some more. I told the girls goodbye and they said that was the last event they had planned for PNMs. I walked away thinking there was no way any of them got to know me enough to want me in their sorority, so I shrugged it off and dug my head in my statistics book for hours.
The following week, I had lunch with my friend from my Bible study who had just become a member. I asked her a bunch of questions about the sorority and everything she told me really impressed me. Sisters weren’t allowed to be seen drinking, smoking, or cussing at any time in their letters. They all had standards and values and they were respected leaders in our campus community. They had a high chapter average GPA and frequently won Greek sponsored events such as Greek Week or Homecoming week. They had themed socials every few weeks, sisterhood events, retreats, and chapter every Sunday night. Everything she said was dead on with what I believed for my own life. The girls were articulate, down-to-earth, and intelligent; not over-done, ditzy, or made up with too much make up. They were all completely the opposite of the stereotype I had in my head of what sorority girls were like.
I was, however, concerned that if I was offered a bid from them that I could not accept it because of the ever-present money issue. Dues for the first semester were the highest you’ll ever pay, they told me, and they were priced at over $1000. I certainly didn’t have an extra $1000 lying around anywhere and neither did my parents. I talked to them about it and they wanted to “cross that bridge when we got to it” but really the correct phrase is, “if we got there.” I told my friend who had just joined, “I just don’t think my parents will say okay to it since obviously they’re going to have to pay.” She looked at me and said something that has still stayed with me today and that was, “Taylor, your parents are going to support you in whatever you decide to do.”
And they did. Because they told me later that if I was offered a bid, I could accept it. Just when I gave up hope that I wasn’t going to receive a bid, I was sitting in my dorm room with my boyfriend on a Saturday around 1:00pm. My phone rang and it was a number I didn’t recognize, so I almost didn’t answer it.
“Answer it! It could be a bid!” he exclaimed, having been through fraternity rush himself years earlier.
I answered, “Hello?”
“Hi Taylor, this is [insert name here] from [sorority]. We’d like to extend to you a bid. Do you accept?” It was all so formal. I stammered trying to process what she just said to me and when I realized that I had been invited at that exact moment to join this sorority that was all-too-perfect for me, with a huge smile on my face, I said, “Yes, I accept.”
…to be continued.