Kyle Cannon: Confessions of a sorority dropout

Think carefully about whether or not to rush

by Kyle Cannon

Many girls begin their college careers either committed to joining a sorority or positive that Greek-letter life is not for them. On this campus, it is easy to find people who will encourage you to rush and join a sorority, but it can be hard to find the alternative view. As someone who rushed, joined and later quit a sorority, let me share a few things about what goes on behind the scenes at sorority recruitment.

I will preface this by saying that I am not against sororities themselves. They have done great things for friends of mine and create a small, personal environment at our large, often impersonal university. Sororities facilitate making new friends and connections, giving their members great networking opportunities.

I was not in a sorority long enough to be on the other side of the recruitment process, but being a "rushee" is terrible. For a week, girls judge you on such arbitrary things as whether your fingernails are manicured, what you are eating and, of course, how you are dressed. The process is emotionally draining and being rejected hurts, no matter how above it you may think you are.

Recruitment doesn't allow you to approach a specific sorority, even if you are only interested in a few. Each sorority has its own identity, and girls should be able to show interest in individual chapters, as fraternity rush allows. And if you're a sophomore, be aware that some sororities will not even consider you.

Once you are through recruitment and in a sorority, you are given your pledge shirt. Learn to love it. You will have to wear it on certain days for your entire pledge period. Due to hazing rules, the sorority cannot technically make you do anything. But you want to be a part of this group, don't you? If you really want to be in a sorority you will probably love pledge-shirt days. But if the idea of being branded with your new letters doesn't get you really excited, this might not be for you.

Sororities are also a huge time commitment. You join a sorority to meet a new group of friends, but know that it is hard to balance a sorority with other parts of your life. You will have dinner hours, study hours, formal meetings, informal meetings and weekend events - many of which require dressing up. And don't think you can just pick and choose. You will be reprimanded for missing chapter events and not accumulating enough "points." While this may get better after initiation, be prepared for the sorority to be your primary commitment.

Being in a Greek-letter organization also costs a lot of money. There are not only the dues (often several hundred dollars a semester), but also a ton of other investments. Each philanthropy event a sorority or fraternity organizes will include a T-shirt you are encouraged to buy and some sort of donation. It's a good cause, but it adds up. Buying those letters ain't cheap. Get prepared to start writing a lot of checks.

Your sisters will also want you to live in the house. This was actually my breaking point with the sorority and one of the best-kept secrets of the Greek-letter world - sororities that have houses need to fill them. No matter how much you love your sorority and love the girls, how appealing is it really to have to deal with that drama 24/7? You may have to live in the house, and you will likely not have a choice. I've even heard of it coming down to names being drawn from a hat if volunteers can't be found. Be sure you are willing to make this commitment.

If you are still on the fence about recruitment, be sure to weigh the pros and cons carefully. Sororities can be a great opportunity, but make sure it's for you.

On the other hand, if they ever allow girls to rush fraternities, that looks like a lot of fun.

The writer, a senior majoring in history, is The Hatchet's special projects manager.

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