When I first got to college, I never thought I would join a sorority. It was never something I considered, nor something I really envisioned for myself. However, I knew I wanted to continue with my volunteer work. All through middle school and high school, I helped to lead a volunteer group. So, upon arriving at Bradley, I began my search for volunteer groups on campus. I came across Bradley SERVE and things like BU Clean Up Crew. Unfortunately, none of them stuck with me after meeting them.
Toward the beginning of freshman year, I was talking to my friends and they suggested checking out one of the sororities on campus, Epsilon Sigma Alpha (ESA). I was a bit weary at first, but I agreed to go with her to talk to them at the Activities Fair. I even ended up at recruitment events. I immediately fell in love with the girls that were already in the sorority. I truly envisioned myself getting closer to them, even if I didn’t stick with the sorority.
They began talking about their emphasis on service, rather than the social aspect. This piqued my interest since I was already comfortable with this group of women. They loved to volunteer as much as I did. I went to their open chapters, and they truly did care about volunteering and connecting both within the group and with the community.
I am a junior in college and have been a member of ESA for three years. I am currently serving as the community service chair on the executive board. One of my favorite qualities of ESA is the ability to provide girls with a safe space — just like I did three years ago. It’s truly a different experience than the social sororities on campus. Although I’ve never been part of a social sorority, at ESA we frequently get girls that are either in another sorority or have just left a different one. We are extremely inclusive and don’t turn people away if they are already a member of another sorority. We encourage them to continue making connections.
One of the largest differences between ESA and the social sororities on campus is the living situation. For many social sororities, there are live-in requirements as a sister since they have a house and want girls to be living there. ESA does not have a house, and, therefore, there is no requirement for that. While many girls end up living together in off-campus houses, it’s very freeing to be part of a sorority without the fear of living in the house. I know, for myself, I am not fully comfortable with the thought of living in a sorority house for personal reasons. However, I do love living with two of my sorority sisters and having others over for a short period of time. That allows me to stay connected without the necessity of living with them constantly.
Another thing I enjoy is that ESA still has a large social presence on campus, much like the social sororities. There is a great connection between all of Greek Life, including ESA. This is despite ESA not being a panhellenic sorority – which is just a fancy way of saying social sorority. The fraternities and sororities both recognize ESA and frequently ask us to join their events and service activities. One of the best examples is the fraternities will always reach out to us for their philanthropy weeks. In hopes of encouraging us to join them and show up to represent our sorority since they love to see our support.
The final difference between both a service and a social sorority is the recruitment process. It was one of the main reasons I fell in love with ESA, aside from the service aspect. I’m sure many of you have heard social sororities take part in “rush.” This is a different way of stating they have certain recruitment events that will then lead to them deciding if they want to choose you for their sorority or not. This causes a lot of stress for those hoping for one specific sorority. You just have to sit back and hope they choose you. Unlike social sororities, ESA does not “rush” you, but rather encourages you to join us for recruitment events to get to know girls. If you decide to join, you just attend our chapters and pay our dues – which are a lot cheaper than social sororities since we have no house.
Overall, there’s a lot to love about a service sorority. I’m a walking example of someone who had no intention of joining a sorority at all, but learned to love it for all that it offers. If you’re on the fence at all, I always suggest going to recruitment events to see if you like the group of girls and if you agree with what they stand for. There is always a focus to be welcoming and inclusive. It never hurts to try something you didn’t think you’d enjoy.