Growing up in Canada, there was never much talk about sororities or fraternities. It was more so something that I would see in movies like “House Bunny” or heard about from my American cousins. Sororities were seen as an exclusive club where the youth of the rich networked and partied. And for some reason, as catty and horrible as they seemed, the exclusivity was very attractive and I wanted to be a part of one if given the chance.
As I was going into second year in university, and having changed programs, I didn’t get to see much of my old friends. I also moved out of the dorms and felt really lonely. I was on the verge of depression and didn’t know what to do. All I wanted was somebody I could talk to, a group of girls I could hang out with and get coffee. But for that moment, I was alone and depressed and decided I needed to get myself some chocolate cake to feel better. When I reached the coffee shop there was a sign on the door, similar to one I had seen on Facebook a few days before. The sign explained that there was a meet-and-greet going on for a sorority (which I will call the “Alphas” so that I don’t get sued or blackmailed for spilling secrets). So instead of getting cake, I turned to the group of girls and asked to join in on the event.
After that night I was asked if I was interested in continuing Rush Week, which I said yes to and was given a calendar for the next week. Rush Week is when you attend events with the sorority and if they like you they will ask you to pledge. For this particular sorority, I had to attend three or more events—the meet-and-greet counted as one. Other events consisted of theme parties with fraternities, scavenger hunts, movie nights and other activities.
I decided to attend a glow-in-the-dark party and a scavenger hunt, and there was also a mandatory interview. Out of the three, the party came first. All I knew was I had to wear white so I bought a cheap white tank top and paired it with black ripped boyfriend jeans and a red flannel. When I arrived at the meeting spot, I remember feeling very underdressed. Most of the other girls were wearing heeled boots with tight jeans or leather pants.
Walking into the fraternity was like walking into a movie. It had the large Greek letters at the front door, a winding staircase and large windows. The walls were decorated with previous chapters dating back to the 1800s. As a group, we were lead to a large room in the basement with the lights turned low, a black light on and a bunch of young men (18-23 years old; more so boys) ready to greet our arrival. We made quick introductions and then began playing drinking games. Music was pumping and drinks were flowing and honestly it was pretty fun. I definitely remember getting along really well with the guys and joking around with them, talking about sports and boxing (at the time I was doing a lot of martial arts).
A few days later we had the scavenger hunt or “frat walk” which in short, was walking along a street and stopping at every fraternity, getting a brief history and then meeting the boys inside. I remember very clearly going into one of the houses and sitting down in their living room, expecting to just talk to them. Nope, I was way off on that one—they sang a song to us. Yes, you read that correctly, they serenaded us. My God, was that awkward. I hated every second of it. Can you just imagine for a second, a group of young males all wearing polo dress shirts and singing about love? Another house we walked into had a variety of “vases” and “lettuce,” and was known as the house for collecting those objects. I am pretty sure I had some secondhand lettuce from that house. Once the tour was over, a few of us were invited to attend a REAL Greek life party. Myself and two of the girls I was rushing with decided to go, and what we saw was everything you would expect. First, if you are not Greek (not in a sorority or fraternity) you paid at least a $5 cover. There is coat check, again free for Greek. And finally, unlimited booze. Booze everywhere: a bar upstairs, downstairs, in the living room, the kitchen; anywhere it could have been, it was. And if their goal was to get girls drunk, they were achieving it. I spoke to some of the members that night about what was to come and what to expect. They told me that it wasn’t easy getting in but it was super worth it to have girls that are your friends and “sisters” for life. They also told me how small the Greek community is and to watch out for myself. It was that night I realized how careful I had to be in this type of setting and little did I know what was going to come next.
In the interview I was asked a series of questions about my career goals, my program, my biggest achievements and a brief history about myself and why I thought I would fit into the sorority. The interviewers were fairly nice and I felt confident coming out of it. At this time, pledging was still something I really wanted to do.
Two days after the frat walk I got a missed call on my cell phone. It was from one of the girls in the sorority asking me to meet them at a certain location at a certain time and to wear white. I know, so stereotypical. Like c’mon guys, think of something new and original. However, I remember being unable to attend for some reason, but ended up still getting the pledge (the second step in becoming a “sister.”) I still don’t know what happened that night as the girls were not allowed to tell me even though I was in the same position they were. That night I was also assigned a big (a big is a “big sister” who helps you through the process of pledging). I was added to a private Facebook group and my first assignment was to add all the girls in the sorority onto my friends list. Once that was finished, we were given a meeting time and place for our first official pledge class meeting.
The meeting wasn’t held anywhere special; it was in an empty tutorial room with the executives of the sorority and my fellow pledges. They gave us each a binder filled with tasks and assignments we needed to complete, some of these tasks included memorizing the Greek alphabet, memorizing ALL of the names of the sisters in the sorority and the song associated with the “Alphas.’” We were given pins that had to be worn and visible at all times, except when drinking when they had to be worn on the inside of our shirts. To top it off, we were given a notebook. This book was to be worn on us at all times but never be visible, no one could ever know about it. The book was going to be used for girls in the sorority to give us points and demerits based on what they thought of us or how well we did on assignments. Finally, we were told that when we went to parties with fraternities we were not allowed to hook up with more than one fraternity guy—and if they heard about any one of us hooking up with multiple, we would be kicked out. At the time I had a boyfriend so I was not too worried about that rule, but I thought it was super sexist.
As the weeks went by, myself and my fellow pledge class were given points in our notebooks for wearing cute clothes or being positive and had points deducted for not conforming to what they wanted us to be. I made some friends but was finding myself getting stressed out over managing school, work and the assignments from the sorority. We were yelled at for not making the sorority a priority. We were ratted on by older girls consistently, somehow someway if one of us told a girl something in confidence it was spread to the whole group (even if it was very personal). There were some days that I wanted to cry and leave but for some reason I was holding on.
As we were prepping for our final assignment which was going to be a big party at a pub, I started falling ill. I had bad back pain and was sleeping all the time. I was finding it hard to find the time to do anything and realized that the sorority was not making me happy. In fact, I felt lonelier and more abused than I have ever felt in my life. I started questioning if joining this group of women was really something I wanted for myself or if it was just to prove a point. And so I quit, I gave in my pin, my binder and the stupid notebook and walked away from it all.
After this, all the girls except a few deleted me off of Facebook, I was not acknowledged in the hallway by the girls I thought were my friends, but in the end I was happier without them. I realized that the sorority life was not for me. I think it might be good for some people who have the time and energy for it but it drained me. The illness that I was fighting turned out to be mono and I was on bed rest for 3 months. I can’t even imagine how much more sick I would have been if I kept going. So if you are someone who has ever debated joining a sorority, give it a second thought. Don’t jump into it, and be prepared for what is to come. Until next time, keep your heads high and your wine glasses full.