When you hear the word “sorority” what is the first thing that pops your head? A movie about a chaotic sorority? Hazing? Powerful cliques? Bullying? Stereotypical types of girls?
Over the years, there is no doubt that sororities have been projected in a negative light in the media and continue to lack the true vision of what these organizations do. The majority of the oldest and largest sororities today were founded in the mid to late 1800s and early 1900s. Women in these times did not have the rights we have today and had been pushing barriers while striving to lead generations through values, tradition, and sisterhood.
Sororities were formed as organizations for women as many could not join fraternities or be official members of on-campus initiatives. Sororities have been where women have come together and improved members socially, morally, and intellectually. Sororities are about true sisterhood among the membership, philanthropic service, academic excellence, community relations, and social networking to broaden members’ horizons. In addition, leadership within the sorority builds the character of their members to gain experience to apply in the future.
Today, in the generations of sorority members, we have seen politicians, celebrities, advocates, authors, and empowering women all being members of these organizations. Familiar names like Megan Markle, Judy Heumann, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Kamala Harris, and more have all been part of sororities. The list continues to grow, with many sorority women making history or remarkable achievements worldwide. Sorority women have been highly successful, yet why do we often think about a stereotype when we think of sororities? Why do we picture a socialite that is a bully, hazes, is super shallow, and focuses on fraternities more than sisterhood?
The media often portrays negative representations of sororities; it is hard to think of a movie or television show that has accurately reflected sorority women’s passion for their organizations. In my experience joining Delta Phi Epsilon, I was immersed in a chapter with diversity, love, and support in every way I could think of. I founded a chapter seeing members across North America excelling, thriving, and learning due to the opportunities our International Headquarters provides throughout the year. However, we rarely see experiences like this broadcasted on Netflix or shown in the media.
What are sorority stereotypes that are projected? How do I confront or deal with them when I am being labeled or asked if I am like that?
“I am not a sorority type” or “I don’t look or act like a sorority girl”: Sororities are not cookie-cutter organizations that look for a one size fits all look in their membership. There is no such thing as a “sorority type.” Anyone can join a sorority! The majority of greek organizations today participate in value-based recruitment to ensure they connect with the values you share with them and their organization. Sororities continue to strive for diversity, equity, and inclusion within their chapters while making it more welcoming for anyone to join or rush! For example, In Delta Phi Epsilon, we extended our membership to include non-binary people and trans-women!
“Sororities only focus on Fraternities, parties, and drinking”: Sororities today have continued to ensure sisterhood is the priority of their chapter. During recruitment, the National Panhellenic Conference has restricted mixers with Fraternities as they want to focus on sisterhood within the membership experience. Although building greek relationships with Fraternities is a small part of the greek experience, sisterhood is at the forefront of your membership to unite all sisters and build bonds that will last for generations. Old stereotypes about sororities mainly focusing on boys, drinking, and partying primarily stem from the media! Sororities operate throughout the year by hosting events, conducting meetings, recruitment, and community service. All on top of being a student at university and having to maintain or exceed GPAs their chapters require! To believe sorority members could do all of that and make drinking/parties at the top of their priorities would be hard to imagine considering all their responsibilities.
“Do I have to live in a house if I join a Sorority?”: Depending on your campus, chapters may or may not have housing! However, you are not forced to live in the house if you join a sorority! It is encouraged to, but never required! This is a common misunderstanding as more prominent campuses like LSU, or the University of Toronto has houses, but other campuses like Ontario Tech or Florida Atlantic don’t have housing! Do your research to see if your campus has sorority houses or not! All chapters are different, but none require every member to live in the house! Many sorority members do not live in a sorority house, live on other on-campus accommodations, or commute to campus!
“Sorority membership is only for four years” is 100% not true at all! Most larger organizations have members from older generations still actively involved in their sorority! Sorority membership is not for four years; it’s for life! As alumnae, you have many opportunities to stay involved, volunteer, join an alumnae chapter, and connect with members locally and beyond! Within the greek community, you have connections to last a lifetime and memories to cherish! If sorority membership were only for four years, it wouldn’t be actively expanding or growing at the rate it is! We are only active collegiates for four years, but being alumnae is for life! Your alumnae experience will be a more significant part of your sorority journey, and you will be able to see all the ways you can be involved!
With joining a sorority, keep an open mind and be encouraged to look at the chapters at your campus to see which one is the best fit for you! See why members have joined, learn their history, look at what they offer, and understand their organization’s values. In recruitment, you can ask questions, experience the sisterhood for yourself, and find your forever home on campus! Joining a sorority has been one of the best decisions I have ever made in post-secondary. If you look past the stereotypes or tacky media representations, you can see why joining a sorority may be the best decision you can make too!