If you have seen movies like Animal House and the House Bunny, you may have the idea that the Greek system is more of a poison to society than an antidote. It’s written in books, portrayed by movies: Pledges being hazed in horrific ways… rich, snooty women backstabbing one another… fraternity men acting in misogynist ways. With experiences advertised today, you may think it’s a wonder in why people have joined fraternities and sororities in the first place.
We aim to prove that theory wrong.
When my line sisters and I came together to give birth to our wonderful sorority today, we aimed to do just that. We wanted to have an experience where we could advocate for those who were oppressed and unheard and where everyone could get an equal say. We have seen a lot of harm done to innocent people who were persecuted because they looked, acted or dressed differently than what society dictates is right or wrong… including ourselves. It was time for people to stand up and make some real change in the perspectives of people around the nation, to shatter the silence and disrupt the cycle of discrimination and hatred that has spread throughout our communities. To be honest, we weren’t sure if we were going to get far. We were amazed to see how we have tripled in size since we first started and see the unity and strength that our sisters have given one another since the beginning.
Although it can be safe to say that all organizations share the same viewpoints when it comes to Greek life, we also realize that we can only speak for ourselves since we only have the experience with being a part of our organization. Below are some of the myths about Greek life, and how we, as a strong and passionate sisterhood, break the stereotypes everyday of our lives.
MYTH: If I join a Sorority, I will be subject to hazing.
FACT: Our New Member Period is created for healthy bonding and amazing self growth.
My promise to all prospective members who are interested in our organization: we will NEVER, EVER force you to do something that makes you feel uncomfortable in our organization. Hazing a member directly goes against our Principles. How can we let people show Bravery and stand up for themselves if our new members have to tolerate pain and suffering from another’s actions? How can we express Acceptance, Sisterhood, Equality and Individuality by making people submit to actions which promote the exact opposite? And how can we show our Loyalty to our new members and promise to support them through good and bad times when we are the ones who are betraying them from the promise of safety and security we’ve already made? Hazing is a disgusting act that no one should ever be a part of. Anyone who witnesses hazing is also mandated to report it or else faces the same consequences. We thoroughly investigate the issue IMMEDIATELY, alongside the Office of Fraternities and Sororities and the Police Department. It is a serious issue and we have zero- tolerance for it.
Our new member process is a life changing experience, but always for the better. Our sisters have bonded by supporting one another, celebrating accomplishments and being there when times get tough. We learn through our process how to advocate and stand up for what we believe in, taking part in events to make a difference in our society, and learning and growing from one another, knowing that we have each other by our sides and that we are never alone. Every member, sister or new member is to be treated like royalty at all times and nothing less.
“Our sisters have taught me a lot. They are there when you need them and always open for you to talk to about anything,” says Isabelle Lin, a newly crossed (or initiated) member into Sigma Chi Iota Social Justice Sorority. “I feel that our sisters can be open minded and be good listeners as well as good advisors. The fact that we have all been through different tough times allows us to treasure each other more as sister and support each other in any way we can.”
If you or a friend has been victimized by hazing, or if you have questions and concerns about hazing, please call the UMPD immediately or the Office of Fraternities and Sororities Office at 413-545-2727.
MYTH: If I join a Sorority, I will have to deal with cattiness and backstabbing.
FACT: Our Sorority mediates issues with sisters and addresses the problems head on.
Too many times, women are turned off by the idea of joining an organization because of the cattiness that happens. Sisters form cliques with one another within a sisterhood and turn against each other. According to the media, it is common when an entire organization gangs up on the “weakest link” or the sister “who doesn’t fit in”. Too many times, people wonder… is it really worth the drama?
The answer, quite frankly, is NO. And by no, we mean that no one should be dealing with cattiness or bullying within our Sorority. No one is to be excluded from any activities that we do together and no one is to be left out. We are all a family, who care for one another and about the wellbeing of all our members, no matter how you choose to identify.
In our Sorority, we have a position called the Psi, who deals with conflicts internally and externally in the Sorority. She mediates the issue with members, makes sure everyone has the resources they need and also advocates for any sisters who feel they are being treated unfairly. We cannot say that conflicts will never happen in our Sorority, but in case they do, we make sure we handle the problem effectively so everyone has a win- win situation, rather than letting things go.
MYTH: I will have to give up all and any friends that my Sorority doesn’t approve of.
FACT: Our sisters have friends from all over the spectrum!
No one should ever have to give up the people that they love in order to please anyone. Our sisterhood is very friendly and open minded. Many of us are involved in many different activities and have networked with all sorts of people! We encourage our members to go out and get to know more people and to get their friends involved too! New people mean new perspective ideas, and new perspective ideas means different ways to make the community a better place for everyone!
MYTH: Being in a Sorority means I’m buying my friends
FACT: Dues collected for our organization goes directly towards funding for fees, events and resources EVERYONE agrees on and that we need.
Being a part of Sigma Chi Iota does not mean buying your friends. We extend our friendship freely for all who ask for it. The reason why we collect dues is so that way we can have funding for events and different activities that we do together, with other organizations and for the community.
Let’s say for example, that we were going to go to Boston to tour the Afro- American Museum of History and then have a small lunch. Where we would get money for the gas, or money for transportation? How would we pay an entrance fee into the museum? How would we be able to pay for lunch? In order to fund all of these trips and to be able to have everything secured ahead of time, we would need funding to be able to do so. Everyone in our organization contributes the same amount for dues so that we can share it together to do different things. It works the same way for community service or benefits, holding awareness events (paying for the room, projector, and refreshments?) and other projects that we do. The money, also, is never free at one’s disposal. The University, our Tau (Treasurer) and the sisterhood all determine where the money goes and how it is used. Money collected is NEVER used for alcohol or drugs, and spending any money that hasn’t been approved by all of us is prohibited.
MYTH: Money, Money, Money! If you don’t have a lot of it, I can’t join a Sorority
FACT: Our Sorority offers amazing payment plans and will work with you on payments
Even though dues can be expensive, our organization is on the very affordable side, compared to many different organizations. We also offer payment plans, where you structure the routine of your due paying schedule. We are flexible, understanding, and willing to work with anyone who is interested. Although dues are important to be active in a Sorority, they are not the reasons why we take in new members. We look for women who are of quality, who want to make a change in the world they live and make lifetime friends as we walk the path of life together. Being able to pay dues upfront or having a ton of money is NEVER enough to qualify anyone into receiving an invitation to go through our process at Sigma Chi Iota. Character is what is important, not cash.
MYTH: If I join a Sorority, I will have to walk, talk, dress and act EXACTLY like my sisters
FACT: Being a sister of Sigma Chi Iota means being who you CHOOSE to be, regardless of what anyone else thinks.
Our sisters at Sigma Chi Iota are very unique. No two sisters are exactly alike. Everyone is different from outside appearance to personal beliefs. What matters the most is that we embrace our differences and realize that this is what makes us special. Too long, people are told to hide their true selves and put on an act in order to be accepted by others. Our quote is “Be Yourself and You Will Go Far”. No one should have to change themselves in order to become something they are not. Whether you’re an outgoing socialite, a quiet bibliophile, a passionate activist or a dedicated soldier, everyone is celebrated for who they are and who they want to become.
MYTH: If I’m in a Sorority, I am expected to clash with members of other Sororities
FACT: Our Sisterhood loves meeting new people, including Sororities!
Our Sorority has a Drama- Free Policy, meaning that we do not aim to hurt, cause any harm or go out of our way to hurt another organization. We give our friendship freely to all organizations that hold their hands to us and support events of all organizations, INCLUDING Sororities. We have actually had a few mixers in the past with a few Sororities on campus and they were nothing but fun! Networking and being united in making a difference is what counts.
We do understand that in the future, some of our members may have issues with people of other organizations; however they are also made fully aware that they are personal issues and never represent our organization as a whole. However, we do take action and solve problems immediately if a problem between our organization and another ever arises.
MYTH: I can’t join a Sorority because I identify as LGBTQI
FACT: 50% of our sisters identify as LGBTQ, the other 50% identify as allies
In order to be eligible for an invitation to join Sigma Chi Iota, one must identify as female. We do not look at the biological but instead the psychological. At least half of our sisters identify as members of the LGBT community, the other half have declared themselves as allies. We have done many events, including a seminar on the famous celebrities of the LGBTQ community and about the different issues facing LGBT youth, such as bullying, discrimination, and other issues as well. LGBT community members are encouraged to look into membership with us, if they so please as well.
Please note that in the vice versa case (if one is biologically female but identifies as male), the prospective will not be eligible for membership.
MYTH: If I join a Sorority, my grades will slip and my classes will be my lowest priority.
FACT: Grades are always a first priority and will always be!
Let’s face it. We are all here at college to learn and grow as individuals. Going to college means aiming for the highest that you can be. It is a learning experience as well as a transformation period for all who go. Education is one of Sigma Chi Iota’s Principles and we take it very, VERY seriously. In order to be eligible for a bid into our Sorority, we require a mandatory GPA of a 2.5 or higher. We understand that members sometimes go through rough semesters and that they may struggle in their grades. Our Sergeant of Arms and Academia checks weekly with sisters in need to make sure that they are connected to resources such as tutoring, study groups and other opportunities to get those grades up! Sisters in need also need to fulfill a study hour requirement, where they meet with sisters a few times a week for studying and tutoring.
We are passionate about our majors and want to grow in what we learn. Many of our sisters have all types of majors and career paths. Our sisters have also taken part in a custom workshop for our Sorority at the Career Services, where they learned about resume writing, mock interviews, and job searching, tailored to their needs!
Education to our Sorority is not only a chance to get closer to the career you want to pursue, but a life changing experience. Everything you learn can be applied to your real life. Education gives you the opportunity to think for yourself and to live and perceive life the way that you want to. We take time to learn from each other and find new, fun ways to educate ourselves every day.
So now that you have read our article, we hope you understand that we live to rise from that stereotype. It is possible to join a loving, fun organization with strong bonds and spirit. It is possible to be heard and to stand side by side with others in unity. It is possible to have a personal close knit community who cares and takes care of each other. And most of all, it is possible to be yourself in any capacity and be loved even more for it.
All of those things are possible, with our Sorority.