This is the eighth 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, what happened once I became Greek, and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.
After all of the PNMs were let into the Pegasus Ballroom on Bid Day, they were seated together in groups with their Rho Gammas. They were all wearing light-blue “Pan Pride” t-shirts that we had given them to wear on this special day. Us Rho Gammas were wearing the same shirts, but in a light canary yellow. Shortly after we let them into the ballroom like heading cattle, it was time to reveal which sorority we were all in, which is really a break-through point in formal recruitment after being disaffiliated for so long. We all changed into jerseys behind the curtain of the stage, and popped out doing whatever sorority’s jersey we were wearing’s hand sign. (We were required to learn, memorize, and take tests on every sorority’s hand sign, chant, flower, etc) I came out in a Kappa Alpha Theta jersey.
We ran back behind the curtain and changed into our real jerseys, having faked the PNMs out by switching jerseys with each other. The looks on their faces were absolutely priceless. Especially when Kappa Alpha Theta was the sorority that was originally the first choice of the PNM I told to switch on her final voting card on pref night. So once we all finally revealed who we were, in our real jerseys, we ran back to our groups and handed out the bid cards to each PNM. The girls were told to sit on their bid cards for probably about three to five minutes until they all were handed out and they were instructed to open them. Once they opened them, the PNMs were screaming, crying, and jumping up and down. They ran over to the designated spots in the ballroom for each sorority, and every Rho Gamma from each sorority was there waiting for them.
Then it was time to “run home.” Each sorority, led by the Rho Gammas, and the now 2007 pledge classes, are released from the ballroom to run all the way to Greek Row where the rest of the sororities were waiting outside of their houses with signs, music, and balloons. My sorority was actually the first to leave the ballroom because our house was the furthest away. We started out running, but in the hot Florida sun, that soon changed to walking, and then when we saw our girls waiting for us at the end of the road, we started to run again. I ran straight into my best friend’s arms and I could not have been happier to be back with my sorority I had grown to appreciate so much over the week of recruitment. That was by far one of the hardest weeks of my life and I cannot even begin to express, even now, in words just how happy I was to be home again.
I was so over Greek life that day. I was tired of being this peppy, made-up, girly-girl that I have never been before in my life. I was tired of promoting something that I wasn’t even sure was what I wanted anymore. And I wanted to resign from the life I knew as Greek so badly. I remember telling my sisters that were closest to me that I wanted to resign, and they urged me not to, but I don’t think they ever thought I was serious. “Rho Gamma Resigns” would have been the headline on the front page of the Greek newspaper (if there was one). That headline was a complete oxymoron in the Panhellenic world. But with all of my frustration from the week, I was tempted to do it, just so I could leave this all behind and never have to try to be something I wasn’t ever again.
But then I remembered the new member retreat for my pledge class that took place in February 2006, shortly after my formal pledging. We were all sitting in the circle of one of our old sister’s living room floor. We all gave our “testimonies” of how we decided to join our sorority. So many of us, myself included, said how we were against Greek life as whole before we heard about this one. A lot of us called ourselves “the non-sorority sorority” because we weren’t typical. That was one of the things that drew me so close to this organization. I knew that I could be myself and I was liked for it. I didn’t once feel like I had to be a done-up, shallow, boy-crazy sorority girl like they’re all stereotyped to be at our school. Being a Rho Gamma required being an advocate of every sorority on campus, remaining as “objective” as possible toward all organizations, and being very “Panhellenic” as they say. (“Pan Love” is the term used most often) I hated having my hair, make-up, and outfits all approved by someone before I walked out the door during recruitment. I hated that I felt like I couldn’t be myself, but finally, when running home in my jersey with my letters stitched across the front and my family’s number on the back, I was myself.
But it wasn’t enough. I wanted out. I wanted to disaffiliate myself completely. I didn’t want to have to sit through chapter meetings on Sunday nights. I didn’t want to have to be around so many girls for so many long periods of time. But I had a feeling throughout all of this frustration that I would regret my decision to resign. So, I did what I knew I had to do at that point to give myself a break. I went on “special status.”
As everyone knows, college can be demanding for people at times, so sororities give their members a chance to be required to attend fewer events and chapter meetings for a smaller fee than normal dues in the semester. To get on special status, a letter of explanation is submitted to one of the advisors in the chapter and then has to be approved. If a sister is studying abroad, for instance, for a semester, then they have the option of going on “associate status” which basically keeps your name in the sorority with no required participation (obviously, since you’re not even in the country). That option costs $75 . To be on “special status” which is what I decided to apply for, was originally quoted over $500 for that semester, only requiring you to attend very few events such as formal chapter once a month. If you want to go on socials or formal, for instance, an individual event fee must be paid. $500 for NOTHING sounded ridiculous to all of us. We eventually got the advisor to cut that fee in half almost since a lot of us were more than angry at that price, to say the least. We figured we might as well had paid the semester’s dues which weren’t much more than that, and then just not go to the events. After much deliberation, it was from what I can remember, about $275. My reasoning for wanting to be on “status” was true–I was taking a full-time load of classes (12 credit hours), plus an internship for credit (which was another 3 credit hours), plus I was now officially promoted to manager at my job at Panera which required me to work almost 40 hours a week on top of everything else (some weeks I worked more than 40 hours, even). I was approved for the special status, sucked it up, and paid the $275, and quite honestly enjoyed my break for that fall semester.
Once the spring semester approached, I was no longer allowed to be on “status” and I had to go back to being a “normal member.” I thought that my break would have helped me release and get rid of some of my stress and frustration with sororities, but as soon as I returned to chapter in January 2008, I was wrong. More frustration ensued and I was enraged.
…to be continued.