College is going to offer so many opportunities to bravely try new things. Your experiences at home, your history, your struggles and identities are all getting packed up and put down in a new place. Part of your college experience might include membership in a sorority.
College is a chance to build on what your family taught you, to find new ways to contribute to your community, to stand up and advocate with and for those around you. Part of the path to getting older is looking around and choosing your family, looking for people who share your vibe, who want to amplify your voice, who want to see you and know you. You can do all of those things in a sorority. You will, if you choose to join, have a relationship with your sorority for the rest of your life. As you grow and change, so will your sisters…the organization will continue to evolve to include your contribution, your voice and your perspective on the world around you.
Bring Your Authentic Self to the Table
You might believe that sororities are an institution that expects you to change your identity to fit “us.” That’s a problematic impression we might have perpetuated, and we’re working to figure that out and address it. We don’t want you to water yourself down, minimize your history or hide your identities. To hide who you are, or feel pressure to tone/code switch isn’t fair to you. Your history and identity matter to us because it matters to you. More than ever, the women in our organizations want to know you. The real you. The only way to find and develop a relationship with people is to bring your full and authentic self to the table. We need you to push us forward into our future. Our future is you.
It takes courage to share who you are. But you can, and should, express what you expect from your sisterhood and what you need from your friends. You can grow and build healthy boundaries. You can learn what you are willing to fight for, what you believe matters, and if you take the risk and share your values and experiences, you will find women who will be right by your side.
Sorority is Changing
The women who join are looking for solidarity and support now more than ever. And if you don’t currently have a connection to a sorority on campus, or feel like you don’t know anyone in a sorority – so joining feels a bit daunting – you aren’t alone. So many young women just like you are looking for a safe place to call home, a group of women who are looking to celebrate each other and explore life together. There is nothing more empowering than looking around at your friends and knowing you are growing and gaining strength together.
Reflecting on my own experience, the most powerful moment I had during recruitment was when a young woman I respected shared that I was going to really appreciate the women in that chapter because of my organization’s approach and authenticity. The genuine women and my authentic conversations were the thing that brought me to an organization that challenges me and helps me grow nearly 25 years later.
You’re thinking about joining a sorority, so I’ve asked some sorority women of color to share what they want you to take with you as you explore bringing who you are to a sorority sisterhood. We’ve been there and we wanted to leave you with some words of wisdom that might help you as you think about what your sorority membership might be like. We need you, all of you, as you are, today.
Pay attention to the diversity in the room and how they treat those sisters. Ask, directly, their thoughts on diversity in their chapter. And, don’t buy outfits/accessories with the purpose of catching an organizations attention. Rather, let your personality shine!
Never underestimate yourself and the impact that you can have on the women around you by being yourself.
Be your truest self. Do not try to conform to what you see in others in the room. Be truly and beautifully you!
Don’t look for people who LOOK like you, look for people you ARE like you. But also, if you would never dismiss your culture, why would you let anyone else?
Just because the leadership doesn’t look like you, doesn’t mean you don’t belong or can’t make a difference. We currently have three WOC running for president, two of whom are black, and one of whom is myself. It is possible!!!
Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Inquire about diversity within the chapter and within the Greek community on campus.
You don’t owe anyone a performance of your race or heritage, esp if being seen as the ”exotic” one is coming across as an asset. Ex: You are authentically Chinese, even if you don’t speak the language, love math or live out the stereotypes.
Do not minimize your heritage or experiences to make your identify more comfortable for those around you. Same goes with name pronunciation-if they truly want access to you/your friendship, they will ask and/or learn if you correct them. And don’t be afraid to be critical of conversations you are having for fear of missing out on the “right” sorority- notice if recruiters are trying to form a genuine connection with you or if they’re more interested in what your parents do for a living. You will thank yourself in the long run.
Find your place during recruitment, and make your place in the chapter.