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Thread: Are you/Were you in a college sorority?

  1. #1
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    Are you/Were you in a college sorority?

    I was a Kappa Alpha Theta at UVM many years ago. I just finished reading Alexandra Robbins' book - Pledged. I was very curious since I've been through the experience to see what she had to report.

    Her book is about sororities in southern universities - mostly in Texas with anecdotes about others thrown in. I'm realizing that although we had 5-6 national sorority chapters and probably 10-12 national and local fraternities, my experience really hit the tip of the iceberg.

    I think it's a more intensive experience in the South. the emphasis on getting into the "right" sorority (starting in high school) and many of the events didn't happen in northern VT. She paints a picture of girls that are constantly drinking to excess, smoking and doing many other things although she constantly professes to only report what she saw. She had to go "undercover" in the sororities since she asked permission from the national organizations to report and they refused her after the MTV show scared them away from the media. She had to befriend a couple of girls at different houses by getting them to agree to help her write the book, but I wonder how she managed to stay so close to the sorority without the other girls questioning her reasons for being there and how she got access to some of the sisters-only rituals and events.

    All in all, this book was written about the 1999 - 2000 timeframe which put it way after my experience but it was interesting reading that brought back a lot of my good memories I had forgotten.

    Has anyone read this book and compared it to their own experiences? Or have you (or are you now) in a college sorority? What did it mean to you and what did you take away from the experience?

    Loren
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  2. #2
    I wasn't in a sorority and had no desire to be (apologies to those who are/were. ).

    I did know people who were and found their comments quite distasteful. One girl I worked with one summer (she was cute, blond) told us stories about rush week. THey would have pictures of potential pledges and everyone in the room had to say something bad about the girl based on how she looked. "She's ugly", "She doesn't know how to apply makeup", "She's fat", etc.

    I also had a cousin who was active in her sorority at the University of Oklahoma. While I know it was an enjoyable experience for her and she made many friends who are still a major part of her life almost 10 years later, one comment her mom once made stands in my mind. It was right after rush week, and I had stopped by her mom's house. Her mom was saying what a success the week was, and how all the new girls '...were cute and skinny. THey didn't have any fat or ugly ones'.

    While I do have friends who were in one, I knew early on that it just wasn't my cup of tea.
    Jennifer


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  3. #3
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    I'm not in a sorority, nor have I ever had the desire to join one. It's just not my thing. I do however have several friends in sororities both at my school and at other schools, and all of them love it. There is too much emphasis on drinking and partying for my tastes, but I do think it is nice way to meet people and to have a good group of girl friends.

    I haven't read "Pledged" yet, but I glanced through it at the bookstore a couple weeks ago. I might read it sometime just for a good laugh more than anything else.

  4. #4
    One of the best, best, best things I ever did was join a sorority. I also was a Kappa Alpha Theta. And, one of the best things to happen TO me, was that I did not get my first choice sorority. My first choice was more "popular" women. The ones in my sorority were the downright nicest people I have ever known. That is why, to this day, almost every true blue friend I have is from sorority. I hate watching sororities get bad reputations because mine was so great. Really down to earth people- we definately partied- but we were in college! By the time most of us got married, we could no longer do what we did then. I always say that part of college is the fun of being "eighteen and stupid." But, I hit some rough roads in college, and these women all supported me.

  5. #5
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    No. But I never went to university either.
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  6. #6
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    I haven't read the book but I was in a sorority in the South. I have heard about just awful, denigrating behavior - one sorority made pledges step on a scale in front of an entire fraternity house - but I never experienced that. Then again, I knew which sororities treated their women that way and I simply wasn't interested.

    In retrospect it was a great thing to do my first two years, but I really should've dropped out after that. I deliberately went to a college where no one else in my high school went, and it was about 8 hours away from my parents; it was nice to be part of a community, those first two years, that had an obligation to take care of one another. And boy, were those parties fun!

    I remember being fined for missing an event; my reason? I had to drive up to Washington, DC for a job interview (mind you that "career development" was, nominally, one of the precepts or whatever of the organization). I don't think I ever paid it. In fact, I'm pretty sure I told them they could bite me and if they didn't want me to come to meetings anymore because I was trying to get a job, that was fine, too.

    And I had serious issues with the relationships with other sororities and fraternities. Each Greek organization had a specific charity that they raised $ for with some campus-wide event. The fraternities pitted the sororities against each other in competition to raise the most money. Did the fraternities ever return the favor for our just-as-worthy charities? No. When I served on the Panhellenic Council I brought up the idea that we could all be raising more money if we banded together to help each other and refused to let the frats start cat fights for their own benefit. My pleas fell on deaf ears (well, except for the Dean of Students - she was very cool and totally agreed with me).
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  7. #7
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    No. At the time I attended UCDavis, it did not have sororities.

  8. #8
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    I was a member of Alpha Sigma Tau in college and it was one of the best experience's of my college career. We never did any of the bad stuff for rush week and we had a strong group of women, that although we partied, we also studied hard. At the time our system banded together well and we did a lot for the town and for our charities. I'm not sure how it is now...

    I eventually dropped out because they wouldn't lower fee's for seniors when they weren't full time and job hunting. I'm still friends with several girls.

    I hate to see the fraternity/sorority system receive bad press because with my experience it has only been positive.

    I have not heard of that book, but I will look into it now.
    "...having dogs forces us to keep living in places that are right for us. And I think of all the things I might have given up had my dogs not shown me what was important in my life: fresh air, a garden, an eleven-thousand foot mountain in my backyard." - Pam Houston "The Bad Dogs of Park City"

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  9. #9
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    I have not read Pledged yet, but I was in a sorority as well in college and I pretty much feel the same way stefania4 felt- I went to college far away from home and joined to be part of a community but after two years I no longer wanted to be part of that community.
    I joined for all the reasons they "sell" sororities with- friendship, philanthropy, community, etc.
    As a personal decision I chose not to drink in college and therefore the partying aspect of sororities didn't interest me all that much, which inevitably made me an outcast from my sisters. Between that and the nonsense that went on with Rush I was very disillusioned by my junior year. I think the only reason I stayed with it was I was too busy to drop out and I had a boyfriend in another town so I wasn't around much on weekends.
    I do believe that some women have wonderful experiences with sororities and that it can be the basis of life long friendships and wonderful charity but I think at most places that gets lost in the beauty contest that is rush and pledging.

  10. #10
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    No. I went to a very small college and we did not have fraternities or sororities.
    For you to be here now, trillions of drifting atoms had somehow to assemble in an intricate and intriguingly obliging manner to create you. It's an arrangement so specialized and particular that it has never been tried before and will only exist this once.

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  11. #11
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    No, I was not in a sorority, and no, I did not read the book. I had no interest in sororities, mostly because I am much more comfortable with my small group of girlfriends. Two of my closest friends (and housemates) were in two different sororities though, and both had gone inactive by our junior or senior year. I think they found solid friendships, both within their sororities and without, and they no longer needed the sorority to foster those friendships. During freshman year, I was close friends with a couple other girls, all of whom were pledging different sororities, and they did share some of their secrets. Nothing they told me seemed too horrific, especially when compared to the pledging my now ex-boyfriend, and his roommate even more so, went through. Then again, I went to Villanova, a smaller school with a dry campus, so I can only imagine what happens at larger universities.

    ps. Loren and Meredith, DF's sister is a Kappa Alpha Theta, from the University of Richmond.
    Kristin

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  12. #12
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    Originally posted by KristinK
    ps. Loren and Meredith, DF's sister is a Kappa Alpha Theta, from the University of Richmond.
    Okay, I think you're way younger than me, but I went to Univ of Richmond and was friends with a lot of Thetas. I wonder who his sister is? I was an Alpha Phi (they've now fizzled away) but sororities were just a social thing at my school. None of the pressure or cattiness really, although I didn't enjoy rush. I'm still friends with a few of my "sisters" although the main fun of being in a sorority for me was the formals. I just love to dress up!

    Okay, back to lurking.



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  13. #13
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    I was an Alpha Delta Pi at a small college - our sororities and fraternities were a bit more laid-back than at larger universities, I think. We did do our fair share of drinking and partying, but then again many college students do. We had a deferred rush at my school so that most of the rushees knew a lot of the sorority women as friends before the rush itself started.

    I'm glad I was in a sorority as I met my closest friends in college through it, and we still are friends. I did get tired of it by the time I was a senior, and I wish I hadn't spent so much money on letter sweatshirts and bric-a-brac! Someone should tell those girls that the minute they graduate from college, they're not going to be sporting around town in a letter shirt.

  14. #14
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    Originally posted by colleency
    No. But I never went to university either.
    Me neither but I work at one. No offense to those of you who belong but the people who I do know either give me nausea or have been so turned off by the whole Greek system that they quit after a year or two. Basically, they joined for the friendship, etc. but hated the snobbery, etc.



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  15. #15
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    Originally posted by Beth H
    We had a deferred rush at my school so that most of the rushees knew a lot of the sorority women as friends before the rush itself started.

    ...Someone should tell those girls that the minute they graduate from college, they're not going to be sporting around town in a letter shirt.
    I had a very similar situation as Beth. Rush didn't happen at my university until spring, and I actually rushed freshman year and dropped out. I rushed again in the spring of my sophomore year. I was glad that I did it just because the experience was interesting, but my best friends were not the girls in my sorority. So I went inactive my senior year (I had been abroad for much of my junior year, so I really only had 3 active semesters in a sorority).

    I didn't see a lot of the evil stuff that larger state schools contend with; we went from local societies to national sororities while I was a student, so perhaps the national influence has increased the importance of things like references and whatnot. For us, it was just a social vehicle, since the vast majority of the parties on campus were Greek. You didn't have to be Greek to get in to the parties, but it made it much easier.

    I don't regret it, but it wasn't exactly a formative experience. I did explore the possiblity of starting a chapter of a new sorority early in my sophomore year with a couple of friends who hadn't found what they were looking for in the exisiting groups, but it didn't fly with the dean of students... I imagine that if that had happened, then I would have had a much more important Greek experience in college.

    I haven't read "Pledged," but I have a feeling it would upset me, mostly because it sounds like the author makes some pretty sweeping generalizations based on a few bad experiences.
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  16. #16
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    I was never in a sorority. For one thing, I couldn't afford it. If I hadn't received a generous scholarship, I wouldn't have been able to attend college at all.

    But secondly, I had no desire to join. I never met a sorority girl (or a fraternity guy, for that matter) that I liked. I guess there was just too much of a social gulf between my upbringing and theirs.

  17. #17
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    Originally posted by ellery
    Okay, I think you're way younger than me, but I went to Univ of Richmond and was friends with a lot of Thetas. I wonder who his sister is?
    Yes, you were before her time. Her name is Kelly, but she just graduated last year.
    Kristin

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  18. #18
    I was in one. Long story short, I went to the same college as most of my close friends from high school, roomed with them, and by my sophomore year felt a need to branch out some. I had a good but certainly not perfect experience- made lasting friendships with a handful of women and had a number of leadership and networking opportunities. And I had fun. I wasn't much into parties and there were plenty of like-minded people in my group so I never felt like an oddball. And I maintained my friendships and had a life outside the sorority, so I don't feel like sorority membership = the sum of my college experience. Looking back I certainly could have found other ways of social networking and developing leadership skills, but the sorority was a fine choice for me.

    I generally don't advertise that I was in a sorority but if someone asks I will say so- I am often unnerved by the fact that people express great surprise. "Oh, I never would have guessed, that doesn't seem like your thing at all... etc. etc." Like somehow thinking that I'm not the sorority "type" is supposed to be a compliment. You know, I got what I wanted out of it, I also put a lot into it, and it shaped who I am today for better or for worse. No regrets.

  19. #19
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    I haven't read the book nor was I in a sorority. I'm not sure specifically what schools in Texas the author talks about experiences from (or if she even discloses), but at my school (large public university), the Greek population was a very small percentage of the student body and there was definitely an overwhelming dislike for or disdain towards fraternity/sorority members. In fact, one of the most popular t-shirts you'd see around campus said simply, "Rent a friend, join a frat." I personally knew plenty of people in fraternities/sororities and was friends with several, and the same can really be said of them as a population as of any other large group of people -- there are plenty of stereotypes to be made, and while you'll find many people that fit those stereotypes to a "T," you'll find just as many that don't.

    Contrast my best friend from high school's college experience, at another Texas university, much smaller than mine and private. Something like 98% of her school was Greek and she was most definitely ostracized and considered an outcast because she didn't.

  20. #20
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    No, I went to a small college that banned all frats in the mid-80's. That is actually one of the reasons that I choose that school. I really wanted to go to a small school and it seemed to me that those with a Greek system, the frats really seems to be such an influence on every aspect of campus life. It really turned me off.

    I had a fabulous college experience, though and don't think that I missed out of anything.

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  21. #21
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    The first college I went to did not have social fraternities or sororities. When I transferred, I did rush one sorority, but as I got to know the girls, I decided it wasn't my thing. There was a huge emphasis on partying, and also kind of a weird and scary emphasis on getting married - they had special pins for engaged girls and special ceremonies only engaged or married girls could go through, and at that point in my life I didn't want to get married, so that was weird to me. Also, they had 4 and 5 hour membership meetings every week and you could not miss them for any reason, and at the time I was a scholarship student on the debate team and we traveled a lot, so I was going to have to miss some meetings. They told me that wasn't acceptable, and that I should just quit the team, although if I had, I would have lost my scholarship. So, although I got a bid, I turned it down. I wasn't surprised when all of my newfound best friends never talked to me again after that.

    I think sororities are fine, but I remember girls talking about how important it was going to be later in life that you were part of a sorority, and how it would get you jobs later on because your sisters would help you, etc. etc. I haven't seen any evidence of that yet, and most of the women I know who were in sororities might mention it in passing, but it's certainly not a big deal once you get out of college.
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  22. #22
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    I went to a large Texas university, and I was not part of a sorority. I was constantly approached by acquaintances to rush (I guess I "looked the part"), but I was too busy with academics (and boys ) to bother with it. I finally made close friends with a sorority girl, and she convinced me to rush my sophomore year. My grandparents agreed to pay the ridiculous fee. Then my grandfather gave me a proposition, pay my sorority fee for the next couple of years or a new car....

    I took the new car

    Interestingly, my DH says he wouldn't have pursued me if I'd been in a sorority! Guess it all worked out the way it was supposed to!

    And I did hear some horror stories while I was there...and there was still lots that they refused to talk about!

  23. #23
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    Originally posted by Beth H
    I was an Alpha Delta Pi at a small college - our sororities and fraternities were a bit more laid-back than at larger universities, I think. We did do our fair share of drinking and partying, but then again many college students do.

    I'm glad I was in a sorority as I met my closest friends in college through it, and we still are friends. I did get tired of it by the time I was a senior, and I wish I hadn't spent so much money on letter sweatshirts and bric-a-brac!
    Beth me too! I also joined ADPi and had a similiar experience--smaller laid-back college. I saw no hazing and everyone was friendly thoughout the system except for our natural competiveness for raising $ for charities. We did a lot of partying, true, but we had to uphold a certain GPA to be a member in good standing. I still meet some of my sisters +families monthly for dinners as well as Christmas parties and summer BBQs.

    As a freshman,I was ready to hate the idea, but my mother persuaded me to rush and after meeting some nice girls, I joined. I held a few offices in the chapter, so I learned a lot about community and volunteering, taking charge, keeping a budget, and so on. I really didnt see any of the nasty stuff that the media talks about. Plus, I met my DH at a fraternity party so that is a great bonus!!

  24. #24
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    Interestingly, my DH says he wouldn't have pursued me if I'd been in a sorority!
    That's funny, Clara - my DH said the same thing to me! I would have picked the car over the sorority fees also
    I will still never be able to stomach medleys. I either want to hear a song or not hear a song; I never want to hear part of a song.
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  25. #25
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    I think sororities are fine, but I remember girls talking about how important it was going to be later in life that you were part of a sorority, and how it would get you jobs later on because your sisters would help you, etc. etc. I haven't seen any evidence of that yet, and most of the women I know who were in sororities might mention it in passing, but it's certainly not a big deal once you get out of college
    Being an ADPi never has helped me "network" or get a job - I can't imagine how that would really come up in an interview except maybe for the first year after college if you had been a chapter officer.

    "Oh, I never would have guessed, that doesn't seem like your thing at all... etc. etc." Like somehow thinking that I'm not the sorority "type" is supposed to be a compliment.
    People have said that to me too. I think unfortunately many people have an image of sorority women as sort of college-age Stepford wives with few opinions or interests outside the group. This was not my sorority experience - our chapter was a diverse mix of women, almost all of whom had many friendships and activities outside of the sorority. We had a lot of fun together.

    I've seen articles about this book and have mixed feelings about reading it - I wonder if the author approached it with some pre-set views on sororities and their membership?

  26. #26
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    I think sororities are fine, but I remember girls talking about how important it was going to be later in life that you were part of a sorority, and how it would get you jobs later on because your sisters would help you, etc. etc. I haven't seen any evidence of that yet, and most of the women I know who were in sororities might mention it in passing, but it's certainly not a big deal once you get out of college
    Being an ADPi never has helped me "network" or get a job - I can't imagine how that would really come up in an interview except maybe for the first year after college if you had been a chapter officer.

    "Oh, I never would have guessed, that doesn't seem like your thing at all... etc. etc." Like somehow thinking that I'm not the sorority "type" is supposed to be a compliment.
    People have said that to me too. I think unfortunately many people have an image of sorority women as sort of college-age Stepford wives with few opinions or interests outside the group. This was not my sorority experience - our chapter was a diverse mix of women, almost all of whom had many friendships and activities outside of the sorority. We had a lot of fun together.

    I've seen articles about this book and have mixed feelings about reading it - I wonder if the author approached it with some pre-set views on sororities and their membership?

  27. #27
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    Originally posted by Beth H

    People have said that to me too. I think unfortunately many people have an image of sorority women as sort of college-age Stepford wives with few opinions or interests outside the group. This was not my sorority experience - our chapter was a diverse mix of women, almost all of whom had many friendships and activities outside of the sorority. We had a lot of fun together.

    I have had the opposite experience - people are suprised to learn that I was *not* more active in Greek life, and that my sorority experience was neutral at best. I don't exactly know how I'm supposed to take that! I think it's because, as an adult, I do more social types of things, or maybe I look the part, I don't know.
    We figured there was too much happiness here for just the two of us, so we figured the next logical step was to have us a critter.

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  28. #28
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    I was, but I pledged in my sophmore years and graduated in 3 years -- not a major part of my college life. I went to a small university for undergrad, and didn't feel it was a big deal either way. I saw some silly stuff, but the craziest things we did in college were all groups from my dorm.

    Would I do it again? Don't know -- probably not. One of the reasons I did was that mom and her friends were founding members of an alum chapter. They were, and are, a great group of women. I later served as an officer for that alum group. I have applied for a patent, and if it ever turns into anything, I would like proceeds to go to the groups foundation or philanthropy but the sorority itself is nto that important to me.

    I have met people professionally who belonged to the same sorority, but I can't say it ever came up in a networking or job finding situation.

  29. #29
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    I went to a very big, very Greek school in the North East. I personally did not rush, I signed up for it as a freshman however I changed my mind. And I think it was the right choice - I don't think I had the confidence to attract interest at the sororities I would have wanted to join.

    In contrast though, my fiance was in a fraternity. And that changed my life - when we started dating I suddenly had a social life (which for a quiet shy girl was aamazing). He's very close with his friends in the house- they comprise one of our closest group of friends here in NYC. There will be about 12 or so (with wives etc) at our wedding of 80 people on the 4th.

    I guess I see both sides. At my school fraternities were smaller and the guys seemed closer than the multi-hundred member sororities so maybe that was a difference...but I enjoyed the impact his fraternity had on my social life and its impact on my life in general so I'm pretty positive about that experience.

  30. #30
    Originally posted by RebeccaT


    I have had the opposite experience - people are suprised to learn that I was *not* more active in Greek life, and that my sorority experience was neutral at best. I don't exactly know how I'm supposed to take that!
    I think what's disappointing to me is that finding out that I was in a sorority often seems to change the person's opinion of me rather than of sororities, if that makes sense. Rather than thinking "gee, maybe not all sorority members are carbon copies of one another" they think "gee, you must have been a party girl in college." Which I wasn't. Ah well!

    I went and read some of the reviews of Pledged on amazon.com. There's a lot of defensiveness going on there, and not just a little denial.

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