What Being a New Member of a Sorority is Like

Those of you who heard nonstop chants, songs, and claps in the Curry Student Center during the first two weekends of September probably wondered what was going on. You probably saw flocks of energetic girls strolling into the same building dressed to the nines and wondered why you hadn’t heard about the event that required business formal attire. You probably wondered why, on Sept. 29, around 5:30pm, 500+ girls screamed at the top of their lungs while sitting on the floor, scattered around Curry. I was one of those 500 girls. At the time, I was just as puzzled as you were and didn’t know what I had gotten myself into. However, now that I am two months into my new member period as a Delta Zeta, I can explain all of this to you.

                                                                                                              Photo courtesy of Gill Tapp

The process you witnessed in the Curry Student Center is called formal recruitment. This process involves a series of “parties” that essentially serve as a meet and greet between current sorority members and potential new members, PNMs for short. At the conclusion of formal recruitment, PNMs receive a bid card, which tells them which sorority has invited them to join. The 6-16 weeks following this day are known as the “new member period,” which is what I am experiencing now. New member period is different for every sorority; however, whether you are in Kappa Delta, Sigma Delta Tau or any of the other chapters, there is a lot going on. There are three major components of the new member period including new member meetings, the big/little process, and Greek life involvement as a whole.

New member meetings, for my sorority, are once a week and only include the new member class, the Vice President of New Member Education and the VP’s assistants. Other sororities have designated people who were voted into the position of New Member Educators. There are sometimes pop-ins from other sisters who provide insight into whatever is being discussed in the meeting, but, for the most part, the meetings are for learning more about the history of the sorority and what to expect after becoming an initiated sister. For many sororities, these meetings take the place of active sisters’ weekly chapter meetings. However, for other sororities these meetings precede the weekly chapter meeting and new members attend both. Again, every chapter is different. These meetings are super important because they give you a chance to see and talk to every girl in your new member class, and also serve as a chance to learn more about the organization that you’re involved in.

The big/little process is much more simple than it is thought to be. Each new member gets a “big sister.” This big sister serves as a best friend, a mentor, and a multitude of other roles depending on the specific big/little relationship. In order to know what a good match would be, new members of a chapter “sister date” initiated members and try to gauge who they would get along best with. In the end, the preferences of new members and current sisters are compared and they are matched by the New Member Educator. For many new members, this feels like a very critical time because your big is essentially your point of contact with the rest of the chapter (at least for a certain amount of time).

Contrary to popular belief, joining a sorority or fraternity on campus means you are actually joining another organization – “Greek” students as a whole. This concept has been evident throughout my new member period so far in a handful of events. For example, members of many different chapters donated and participated in Delta Zeta’s annual philanthropy event, “Cornhole Classic” in September. Similarly, members of many organizations attended Sigma Kappa’s Dodgeball Tournament in October. Other chapters are consistently present at philanthropy and social events regardless of which chapter is hosting the event. When you join a sorority at Northeastern, you’re joining a community called Greek life. At Northeastern, this includes the Panhellenic, Interfraternity, Multicultural Greek, and National Pan-Hellenic Councils.

Overall, my new member period has been filled with a lot of learning, friendships, and support. Even though I wasn’t entirely sure what I got myself involved with when I first accepted a bid to Delta Zeta, I am truly grateful to a part of this group of people. I hope that the people observing the mayhem of formal recruitment during September can see the value in these organizations and can see just how important they are to the people involved. I also hope that those who aren’t involved in Greek life at Northeastern have some other source for the type of knowledge, love, and support I have gotten out of this organization so far. If you are interested in joining a Greek organization, there is an informal spring recruitment for sororities, and fraternities conduct recruitment year round. I would highly encourage you to get involved!