Wow, lots of good questions! I’m going to take them one at a time, because most of them can be their own post.
So to start with, Ann wanted to hear more about my college sorority: why I joined and what it was like. Well, when I moved off to college, it was the first time in my life I had ever moved. I had never been away from my family, and I had never really had to learn how to make friends in a new setting like that. I remembered that one girl from my HS classes had mentioned that she was going to go through sorority rush at her college just to meet people, and I figured that was a good a way as any to get to know new people. So when I signed up for rush, I really had no intention of following through on pledging. Surprisingly, the girls I met did not match up with stereotypical sorority girls — there were a lot of really smart, really nice girls, and I decided that I did want to go ahead and pledge.
So I pledged C.hi O.mega. There were two things that really drew me to XO: 1) the quality of the women who were already members and 2) the Symphony. To this day, even though I ended up quitting, I still tear up when I read the Symphony — it represents the standard against which I measure my own character and the character of those around me. And that really starts to answer Ann’s second question of what my sorority was like. The members of XO were loyal to each other, and loyal to the fraternity. They believed in the Symphony, they believed in having a good time, and they believed in their friends. The girls that I was friends with then, I am still friends with now. We had, and have, a wonderful time when we’re together. For 2 1/2 years, I lived the traditional college Greek life: class all day, work in the evening, go out after work, and sleep for 2-4 hours before starting it all over. It was exhausting, but it was fabulous. I have two huge photo albums filled with pictures of me and my sisters at parties, at meetings, out at dinner, and dances with the male fraternities. Considering that I met Manly at one of those parties (and we have pictures of the first time we were dancing together!), it was a great lifestyle to be live.
I’m guessing that after that, you’re wondering why I quit? There are two reasons. First (and foremost), there was a group of alumni who were undermining the integrity of our chapter. These were women who had been members back in the 80’s, and had just never left. They went from being members to being alumni to being chapter advisors. Because of that, the chapter was not allowed to grow and change as new girls pledged and became active. These alumni were determined that the chapter would stay exactly the way it was when they were active, and that killed our ability to adapt to changes in the student demographics. And more specifically, these women were out to eliminate anyone from the group who tried to go against them. It wasn’t just me that quit; my best friend quit, another friend was kicked out because her nursing internship meant she couldn’t attend the weekly meeting, another quit when an advisor told her to take out student loans to pay for her dues, they tried to sentence another girl (who was of age) to attend AA meetings because she was drinking at a party, and on and on. The second piece is that I got engaged to Manly, I entered my upper-level engineering classwork, I was working 3/4 time as a co-op student, and I just couldn’t handle the demands on my time that XO called for. When I realized that the alumni situation was not going to change, I made the decision that my studies were more important and I resigned. It’s the one thing in my life that I can truly say I regret. Hindsight is 20/20, and if I had stuck it out for two more semesters, I would have been permitted to go alum when the chapter closed. Yep, you heard right, the national organization closed the chapter the fall following my decision. Things had gotten that bad.
Honestly though, the only thing I’ve missed from resigning is the opportunity to attend alumni events in our area. I still talk or see the girls from our group, and I’ve never had anyone tell me that I made the wrong decision. Overall, I loved my experience with sorority and it put me on a distinct path through my college career. I don’t regret joining, even though it ended badly.