When you enter college, one serious worry for many people is the huge pool of slang and terminology that you may not understand outside the context of college. Sororities, fraternities, hazing, it can all be a bit confusing.
‘Greek Life’ is often at the top of the list for the college worrier. Hollywood has shaped our expectation of these things into being some gauntlet of trials that ends in you being adopted into a family.
While you can certainly take that route, that isn’t the full story, and you don’t have to do anything you are comfortable with.
In this guide we are going to talk about sororities specifically, but much of the information is transferable to the male counterpart to a sorority, the fraternity.
What Is A Sorority?
In plain terms, a sorority, or fraternity, is a single-sex society within a college. There are often many chapters that are identifiable by their unique Greek letters. While romanticized in films, these societies or organizations have a deep history.
See also: What is a Sorority girl?
The main purpose of these societies is to encourage extra-curricular activities and socializing that both encourages academic success and shape the community that college is part of.
In other words, a fraternity or sorority is a form of social fraternity that provides community and structure to those who want it.
A sorority or fraternity is a great way to get involved in college socializing and can be helpful to have and is a great way to meet new people.
In either case, there is a lengthy and costly process to attempt to join a specific fraternity or sorority. Sororities in particular go through a process called ‘rushing’ which refers to recruitment.
Typically, you are labeled a ‘new member’ but must receive an invitation from the sorority in order to be considered ‘active’.
Once you have joined these societies there are codes to follow and traditions to learn, part of ‘Greek life’ is also living, working, and dining with the ones you share a sorority or fraternity with.
What Is A Sorority Sister?
At its core, this is a pretty simple question but perhaps requires a philosophical answer to satisfy the symbolic meaning of a sorority sister.
Firstly, and perhaps obviously, all a sorority sister is at its core is another member of your sorority. When you join a sorority, you are expected to treat everyone as your family.
Not literally, of course, but you should treat your fellow members like sisters, and the ‘house director’ who has the highest position, acts very much like the mother of the entire sorority house. This is also true for fraternities.
A sorority sister can be one of many roles which ultimately decide your hierarchical ranking in the sorority itself.
- Active – An active sister is a sorority member who was formally invited to join her specific chapter.
- Legacy – A legacy sister is a sorority member who is related to another. If your mother or sister was an alumna of the chapter then you are more likely to be accepted there and can give you certain luxuries.
- House Director – Often referred to as the ‘mother,’ the house director is a sister who has made her way to the top and is essentially the leader role.
- Recruitment Guide – A recruitment Guide, which are sometimes called ‘Rho Gammas’ or ‘Pi Chis’ are sisters who are paired with a potential new member. They provide support during the ‘rushing’ or recruitment process and make sure the new members get to the right houses, answer questions, etc.
- New Member – This is the preferred or correct term for what is inappropriately called a ‘pledge’. Essentially, a new member is a member of the sorority that has not yet gone through their initiation ceremony.
Why Join A Sorority?
Sororities, for all their faults, can be a useful approach to college. There is much stock in having a society of people who technically ‘look after you’. If you ever enter any sort of trouble, academic or otherwise, you can rely on your chapter to help you and support you.
Sororities are also good motivators for certain types of people. Sororities often encourage academic success. Many sororities will actually cut you out if your academic performance is lacking.
One report found that students who enroll in sororities are way more likely to graduate and generally perform better academically under this social duty.
A sorority can actually do some good in a community. The whole point of Greek life is to encourage college students to engage with the communities they are within.
Typically, the college state is not the native state of the student. If you want to engage in philanthropic activities and learn about your community and college, then a sorority is a good way to go.
Traditionally, fraternities often dominated Greek life and sorority intake was pretty low. However, in recent years, sorority uptake has increased greatly.
Studies found that from 2008 to 2011, sorority membership grew by 15% and have continued this trajectory today.
Greek life can certainly be a strange experience. On its surface, there is a lot to be gained by enrolling in a chapter. Many ex-college students have horror stories about hazing rituals, the mad rushing, and corrupt politics straight to the top.
But this is purely anecdotal, and it seems the only way to really tell is to actually take part in Greek life on campus.
For the newcomers to college life in general, one thing should remain clear, hazing is illegal in the US and the horror stories were never sanctioned by the chapter they happened in.
Often, Greek life is taken out of context and regularly exaggerated, but if you do it right, there is a lot of fun to be had, principles to learn, and also a lot to gain in terms of community involvement as well as academic performance.
We hope you have learned something about sororities and Greek life in general.