The thing sororities don’t advertise during rush: their ridiculous double standards

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The thing sororities don’t advertise during rush: their ridiculous double standards

My friend’s story illustrates why

When a girl joins a sorority, it’s supposed to be one of the happiest moments of her college career. She has found new sisters who are supposed to be there for her highest and her lowest moments. She spends the majority of her time with these women, and works hard to bring new sisters into her home.

So, what happens when it doesn’t turn out like that?

When my friend (let’s call her Amy) passed her Praxis II exam, all she wanted to do was go out and have a drink with her sisters to celebrate. She had studied her ass off in order to pass this teaching exam, but a night of celebration turned into a huge headache, and eventually heartache.

Amy thought she had found her home at Sigma Delta Tau.
Amy thought she had found her home at Sigma Delta Tau

Amy is a founding sister of the Delta Xi chapter of Sigma Delta Tau, which means that she has an even deeper and complex relationship with the sorority. The time and commitment that it takes to be a founding sister is unparalleled in the Greek Community. The Delta Xi Chapter was installed in May 2015, and Amy was kicked out just under a year later.

Alcohol abuse is rampant in Greek life, and many consider what is medically considered excessive drinking to be a normal part of their life. From pre-gaming everything from chapter meetings to Greek week events, to refusing to schedule Friday classes so that your weekend (and drinking) can start Thursday afternoon, alcohol has definitely worked its way into Greek culture. According to a study done by the U.S. Department of Education’s Higher Education Center, 62 percent of sorority members engaged in binge drinking versus 41 percent of non-sorority members.

Well, what happens to those who happen to engage in dangerous drinking practices when they do something stupid and potentially damaging to their sorority? Do they kicked out? More often than not, they get a slap on the wrist (that rarely gets followed through with) and get sent to next week’s parties with a half-hearted suggestion to make better choices.

Amy told me about an incident in her chapter: “We had a date party at a restaurant close to the campus, and I arrived a half an hour late. In that half an hour, 22 girls were kicked out for public indecency and underage/public intoxication.

“There was a girl who got naked and she was just so drunk that she got naked in a public restroom. This same girl a few weeks later got elected Vice President of Social, and was only given a few hours of community service and was not allowed to go to mixers. She still attended the mixers and did not get in any more trouble.”

This speaks to another problem in Greek life – with the overall number of students wanting to rush dwindling, chapters are reluctant to kick out multiple people fearing they will fall below the required number of members to keep their national charter.

After all, sororities are a business, with chapter dues ranging anywhere from $250 to $2,500 a semester. In reality, it is more profitable to keep members in unless they do something that attracts national scrutiny. If an incident is small enough to blow over, it is easier to simply ignore the problem. The worst thing for a sorority is not losing members, but losing their reputation.

During recruitment (the process by which girls join a sorority) a chapter can spend thousands upon thousands of dollars in order to try to get freshmen to join their house. No matter how much is spent during the recruitment process itself, when a house has a bad reputation (note that “bad” can mean too ugly, too slutty, too fat, not slutty enough – any number of words that girls use to put each other down), it is infinitely harder to get sisters to join.

For new chapters, reputation is everything. How well you perform during Greek Sing, the way your sisters look around campus, the other activities they participate in all build your reputation around campus and online.

big party

Greek Rank is one of the easiest ways for potential new members to form an opinion on the houses they’ll be rushing. Consider it the Yelp of sororities, where you can post your thoughts, opinions, and even hatred of a chapter online. It also literally ranks houses from top to bottom, which obviously plays a part in the opinion of those rushing.

Take the Delta Xi (Amy’s chapter) Greek Rank page. Even with allegations underage drinking and public nudity, they have a 62.8 percent rating, putting them at number five out of eight chapters. This isn’t terrible for such a young chapter, but there’s obviously a lot of room to grow.

So where does Amy tie into all of this? If being underage and so drunk in public that you get kicked out of the restaurant for public indecency aren’t enough of a PR damage to get sisters kicked out, what is? It would have to be something really big, right? Something that would put yourself and the chapter at an even bigger risk than binge drinking on the regular does, something…huge.

frat party

So what did Amy do that was so much worse than the events above? She had the nerve to say that she liked another sorority better, after being abandoned by a sister at a bar. Did she post the comments all over Facebook, or maybe even Greek Rank? No, not even close. She made the comment to someone in another sorority (not even the sorority she said she liked better), someone who she had known since middle school, someone who hadn’t abandoned her at a bar.

Amy made these comments to her friend in a bathroom, and never intended them maliciously. Her comment was simply, in her own words, “that I liked AEPhi better. Most of my friends were in AEPhi so it made sense that I would say that and I was clearly upset about being left alone at the bar by my sister.”

prez pic

Amy was called to a standards hearing, and was told she would be kicked out if the chapter voted to do so. Amy tried to tell her side of the story.

“I explained that I was left alone at the bar and that recently my grandfather had died and nobody was there for me. I told them that girls in other sororities were there for me so maybe I did like them better. I then left the room for standards to vote and when I went back in the standards chair said that what I did was ‘horrendous’ and that I was going to be dismissed after the chapter had a chance to vote.”

Let’s talk about the absolute hypocrisy of this situation. How is public nudity and getting thrown out of a bar worse than making a few upset comments to a friend? Neither are offenses that should warrant getting kicked out of Greek life, unless they happen to be a repeat thing. Guess what which event was a repeat offense? Yeah, it wasn’t Amy’s comments.

pj party

Amy had never been called to standards before. Out of all of the sisters in a house full of public intoxication and embarrassment, Amy was the one kicked out the semester she graduated. She spent her last semester as an undergraduate alone and abandoned by those she had once called sisters.

Amy doesn’t feel that she has any friends left in the sorority, and was even kicked out of one of her sister’s wedding. Her roommate gave her the cold-shoulder and still refuses to answer her text messages.

As for those outside of her chapter? Amy told me that “girls in AEPhi and Theta Phi Alpha have been very supportive sending me texts and letting me know that what happened is awful. I received at least 20 friend requests from people wanting to see the post but I did not accept any of them.”

Has kicking out Amy done more harm than good to the Delta Xi’s reputation? Well, Amy was kicked out in February, and since then, their Greek Rank has been torn apart. After a Facebook post that went viral on campus, everyone knew why she got kicked off – and many have pointed out the inconsistencies between the public drunkenness and Amy’s innocent comments.

When we contacted the sorority for comment, Michelle Carlson, the Sigma Delta Tau National President, said: “It is our policy not to comment on specific member disciplinary actions.”

greek rank 2

This story might surprise you or it might not. Lots of girls at college know stories about sororities applying ludicrous double standards. Lots of students know of young women’s lives which have been thrown off course by arbitrary, unaccountable decisions from their supposed sisters. If Greek Life is going to continue as a healthy aspect of American college life, sororities need to straighten up how they treat their members who have broken the rules. Not doing so will be worse for their treasured reputations than anything a girl might do or say in bathroom at a bar.

@becca_tasker

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