At the beginning of this spring semester, I participated in Formal Panhellenic Recruitment to hopefully join a sorority. Although I am a sophomore, I regretted not doing formal recruitment as a freshman. At the time, I didn’t know much about sororities, so I didn’t even think to rush. However, once the girls on my floor started pledging and were having so much fun with their new sisters, I really, really wanted what they had. I wanted to have a sense of sisterhood, I wanted to participate in fun events, and I wanted to fundraise for a philanthropy in order to help people. For the entire winter break, I was so excited to rush. I just kept thinking, “It’s going to work out! You’re going to wind up where you are supposed to be! And soon, in just a few weeks, you’re going to have over a hundred new sisters who are going to welcome you home!” Honestly, it sounded a little too good to be true.
I went into recruitment with a very positive attitude, but the first day was exhausting. We went around to the seven different chapters on campus, heard about the values of their organizations, and talked a few sisters. Although most of the conversations were a bit superficial, I did have a few good conversations with some girls. I felt totally comfortable talking about the things that I am passionate about, and the sisters seemed like they enjoyed talking to me, too. Although I was tired at the end of the day, I was also excited for the next day, Preference Round. I went to sleep, dreaming of how it would feel in two days when I got my bid.
However, when I was given my Preference Card the next morning, I was so shocked to see that I was only invited back to one sorority, and I wasn’t invited back to any of the groups that I had felt truly comfortable with. I didn’t know what to do. I went back to my room, feeling so sad because I realized that maybe everything wasn’t going to work out, after all. I felt worthless and useless. I wondered if I wasn’t smart enough, charming enough, or funny enough to have these girls want to talk to me again.
Although I did attend the Preference Round that day, I ultimately decided to drop out of recruitment. Throughout the weekend, the recruitment counselors kept assuring us to trust the recruitment process. Although I went into the experience totally positive that the process would not fail me, I decided not to join a sorority, mostly because I didn’t like how the recruitment was structured. How are you expected to get a complete and accurate view of a young woman when you talk to her for a few minutes about her major and her hometown? What exactly do the organizations even look for in girls? Why were we continually told to trust the process? What is the process, anyway?
Recently, many criticisms of sororities have come to light. A Syracuse student recently posted a video that went viral about why she decided to leave her sorority. Meanwhile, another Syracuse student who just went through recruitment posted in her university’s newspaper with her criticisms of the sorority recruitment process. She said, “It’s terrible to see girls crushed because they didn’t get invited back to certain chapters. It’s heartbreaking to see these beautiful, intelligent, strong young women questioning their self-worth based on the recruitment process. Rejection blues, jealousy and resentment have been overwhelmingly obvious in the past few weeks.” With so many people who don’t like the recruitment process, why hasn’t it changed yet?
Of course many girls love their sororities, and they have found a sense of belonging and sisterhood within them. Sororities fundraise for many worthy organizations, and tirelessly volunteer for different causes. I am not trying to discount or downplay any of the amazing work that sororities do. But ultimately, I just didn’t feel comfortable participating in a system that leaves so many girls feeling worthless and useless, just like I did. I wanted to join a sorority so I could make new friends and participate in volunteer causes, but what I didn’t exactly realize is that I can make new friends and volunteer on my own. I wanted to a part of something bigger than myself, and to find a home away from home. And although that didn’t quite work out, and it was heartbreaking to not become a part of something that I had wanted for a very long time, I now understand why this had to happen. Being in a sorority just wasn’t for me. And that is totally and completely okay.
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