sorority

Consequences of Poor Choices in College

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Followers of this blog, know I am a PASSIONATE supporter of sorority life for college women.  In fact, one of my favorite topics to discuss with parents of college-aged women is membership in Greek Letter Organizations and all its benefits.  I am excited whenever a young woman finds her sorority home away from home and creates lifelong friendship.   I enjoy submitting recruitment information forms (RIFs) for potential new members as they start their sorority journey.  And, I love writing letters of recommendation for graduate school and new jobs for women I watched grow though into themselves through sorority life.

My personal college experience was enriched the day I accepted my Bid in 1989.   I joined a group of women who accepted me as I was, but also pushed me to be the best version of myself.  Since I attended a large commuter University, Greek Life was my touchstone with extracurricular activities that enhanced my years at college.   There were socials, study parties, basketball games and all-night float-building marathons, and yes, keggers, where I learned more about myself and my fellow Sisters.

Together we supported each other through the good and bad times.   We were our Sisters’ keepers and responsible not only for following the rules and regulations of the organization and the University, but ensuring that our Sisters did as well.   The rules were in place to make sure we had a complete academic, leadership, philanthropic, fun, balanced and safe sorority program.  We knew that one bad apple could certainly spoil the bunch, and were cognizant of the greater level of scrutiny placed on sorority women by society – both by folks who wanted us to succeed and those who expected us to fail and take on the worst characteristics of the stereotypical “sorority girl gone wrong.”

fat drunk and stupid ecardToday, the actions of a few bad apples culminated in harsh consequences for the larger group, as the Chi Omega Chapter at the University of Pennsylvania was closed.   The investigation of this Chapter was prompted by a series of poor decisions, that were exposed by a deeply offensive event. I was disappointed in these women, not only as their Sister, but as a Latina and a woman.   As a former volunteer Sorority Adviser, I can attest to the fact that the collegiate leaders of this group were provided with close, one-on-one mentoring by older Alumnae members who were selected for their professional expertise and trained in how to supervise the activities of a college sorority.  These Alumnae very likely advised (and scolded) them repeatedly about appropriate party topics among other teachable moments in the management of risk for a group of collegiate women.  This advice was accompanied by sanctions, repercussions and intense education by the National organization, along with a timeline for successful completion of the sanctions and re-education.    It was the college women’s decision to follow sage advice, but, as a self-governing groups of adults, they did not have to.

Unfortunately, they chose the worst possible outcome and started the chain reaction that led the National organization to close the Chapter.  While I was sadden by the news, I fully supported the difficult decision made by the Governing Council (national executive officers).   National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) groups have no tolerance for behavior that demeans, ridicules, or hurts other people and these have been articulated in the Unanimous Agreements, as well as the Fraternity’s Bylaws and Constitution. The governance documents are how we hold ourselves, and each other, accountable.  Our goal is to uphold our ideals as we continually prepare women for life after college.  In short , we strive to build women up and it is not by accident that so many female leaders are members of NPC groups.   We have been doing it for over a hundred years, successfully, because we maintain the highest standards.

My sincerest wish for the women who lost their Chapter, by their own actions, is that they learned the lessons.  My heart breaks for those women who tried, in vain, to steer the group, back to a place of honor and class,  because I know they did not deserve to lose their Chapter.  However, I am a proud sorority woman because we police ourselves.  It is these events that remind me why I pledged to honor my Fraternity’s creed and support fellow Sisters.   Sisterhood is for a lifetime, not just for the four years of college.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 12

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cutes2towlsEven though I am no longer a sorority adviser, I still receive requests for letters of reference from the women I advised over 12 years.  It makes me happy to be a small part of their future, having seen them start to grow into their adult selves in college.  I was blessed to know them as their adviser, and continue to be blessed by having them as alumnae friends.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 7

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Founded in 1902, the Indianapolis-based National Panhellenic Conference Inc. is one of the oldest and largest membership organizations for women representing 26 member women’s fraternity and sorority groups.

Today I give thanks for the women I have met in my sorority, and other sororities.  We created a unique bond during our college years and it was the first group I truly belonged in without compromising any part of my personality.  Completely different from my high school experience, where I felt like I had to downplay one aspect of my personality, depending on the group I was around – the dancer side, the geek side, the heavy metal chick side, etc.  It was refreshing to fully integrate all the pieces into one.

This list will put a smile on all the Alumnae out there.  Some do not apply to those of us who are a little “older,” but I still buy jewelry with my sorority’s symbol on it and know these women will always have my back.  Enjoy 35 Signs You Miss Your Sorority, Snaps!

Grace Under Pressure – One of the Benefits of Sororities

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As a lifelong “Sorority Girl” and advisor for 13 years, I am often asked about the benefits of sororities.  The public is quick to embrace the image of Sorority Women as entitled or shallow, but fails to realize that most of our leaders, both women and men, have a Greek letter affiliations.   For many of us, our first contact with many of the complex issues we face, and will face, in our professional lives were experienced in our college Chapters.

I learned how to manage my time and balance my classes, job, sorority commitments and personal life, whether I wanted to, or not.   My Sorority taught me how to maximize my time, because time was a limited commodity.  I also practiced talking to difficult people, or people I would not normally approach, on a regular basis.    This skill, learned through Rush/Recruitment, has helped me throughout my life.  Each time I have accepted a new job or promotion, I had to market myself, time and time again – just like I did, during Rush.

Creed of Chi Omega Women's Fraternity
Creed of Chi Omega Women’s Fraternity

I was disgusted when I read the article criticizing Kelsey Williams, a professional NBA, fit, beautiful cheerleader by a female sports “blogger.”  The “blogger” did not criticize Ms. Williams’ ability to perform her job, instead she chose to ridicule Ms. Williams’ appearance.   Then, the blog post went viral, exposing Ms. Williams to the ugliness found on Social Media.  The “blogger” has since been fired, and rightfully so.  Sadly, Ms. Williams’ had to publicly defend herself, against this unprovoked attack.   Her tweet about the incident “To be womanly always, discouraged never,” is a quote from the Chi Omega Symphony – a document I am intimately familiar with, as I have recited it for the better part of 24 years.  I am also a Chi Omega, like Ms. Williams.

I was upset when I heard that a woman was ripping another woman for her APPEARANCE, rather than her job performance.  When a fellow Alumna Sister pointed out to me, that Ms. Williams was a fellow NPC (National Panhellenic Conference) and Chi Omega Sister, it became “personal” for me.   No one rips into one of my Sisters, without provocation, especially when the person is not woman enough to look her target in the eye, as she does it.     Using Social Media to shame and ridicule others is called cyber-bullying.  I call it cowardice of the highest order.

However, this situation has a silver lining.   Sorority women of all ages, backgrounds and affiliations have rallied around Ms. Williams, in support.   She was interviewed by “Good Morning America,” about the incident and was able to demonstrate her own personal strength and grace.     Her actions speak to the positive aspects of sororities more than any movie or television show.   I am proud to support her, and other Greek women, who understand the benefits of Sisterhood have nothing to do with cute t-shirts, dating and social functions, and EVERYTHING to do with learning how to become the best version of yourself – an empowered woman.

Kelsey Williams Interview on “Good Morning America”

Tumblr. Why do I torture myself so?

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As some of you know, I’m a sorority adviser.  Back in the day, that meant keeping up with the antics of college students at social functions and making sure they were having fun, safely and within the rules/laws.  I have a new respect for my advisers.  It could not have been a “fun” volunteer job.

Today, that means that I am expected to monitor all sorts of social media to ensure the same things.   Seems easy enough, right?  I should be able to do this from the comfort of my own computer or smartphone.

Unfortunately, I am not a computer programmer with unlimited amounts of time and some of the things college students choose to share with the world, astound and frighten me.   The internet is NOT PRIVATE.

I repeat.  THE INTERNET IS NOT PRIVATE.   EVERYTHING you put out there, WILL come back to haunt/hurt you  once you leave school and are interviewing for jobs.  Think twice about posting those distasteful, drunk, homophobic, racist, etc. photos and sayings on your social media accounts.

If I can read it, so can potential employers.

Which brings me to my “new” Tumblr account.  An account that would not exist if I wasn’t an adviser, looking out for “my girls.”  I honestly, don’t understand what Tumblr is for.   Is it a combination, or truncated version of Facebook + blog + Twitter?  All I know, it that it is, yet another opportunity to “tumble into” the pitfalls of social media.  My goal today, is to link that account with this one, so that I don’t have another blog to manage – ignore – out in cyberspace.

My advice is simple:  Monitor your image on the internet.  On a regular basis.   Control what others post on your behalf with privacy settings and make sure that what people see, is who you are – your BEST self.

Don’t be the young woman who applied for a job with me, several years ago,  who had the outstanding resume, extracurricular activities and amazing grades.  Unfortunately, she also had “friends” who liked to post pictures of EVERY social outing they had, including the myriad of ill-conceived (re: drunk) “projects,” all over the internet.  Needless to say, when our Human Resources Director shared those photos and posts with us, the woman’s lack of good judgment negated all her hard work in college.

Don’t let it happen to you.   Share your thoughts, but be mindful that others (who do not know you, personally)  WILL judge you based on social media “appearances.”  Fair or unfair, it’s the world we live in.  Navigate it, carefully.

Sorority Recruitment – To Rush or Not to Rush

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Sororities, on college campuses, have begun to experience a resurgence.  As the children of Gen-X Greeks seek a similar type of college experience, as their parents (i.e., people my age) they are “discovering” the benefits of Greek life.  I am a member of an NPC group and continue active involvement, as an Alumna.  Neither of my parents were involved in GLOs (Greek Letter Organizations), but both encouraged me to meet as many new people, as  I could.  They also understood the value of being affiliated with international organizations, after college graduation.

Recently, I was asked by several friends whose daughters are ready to attend college, whether these young women should go through Sorority Recruitment, or not.  My answer is an unequivocal, enthusiastic YES!   

In a nutshell, Sorority Recruitment is the process by which these fraternal women’s groups seek out new members.  Typically, the process is governed by the local Panhellenic Council, made up of all the NPC (National Panhellenic Conference) on campus.   Each campus is different and recruitment will reflect that campus’ “style.”

So, why do I encourage young women to participate in Sorority Recruitment.  Simply put, it’s an easy way to meet potential friends.  Whether they are invited to join (accept a bid) a Sorority, or not, it is an experience in learning how to market and present themselves, under pressure.  Women should focus on being themselves, and highlighting their accomplishments and interests.   If you know Alumnae members of any group, ask them for references.   

I recommend the following three websites for more information:

http://www.sororityparents.com/ – Information/FAQs for parents of potential new members.

http://www.thesororitylife.com/ – Information for young women interested in participating in Recruitment.

http://www.recruitmentprep.com/ – Step-by-step instructions on the Recruitment process, what to expect and how to get ready, for potential new members