There was a time, many moons ago, during my amazing tenure at the University of Maryland, where I genuinely believed I could pull off being in a sorority.
That belief lasted three weeks into my first semester in the house I pledged. By fall semester of sophomore year, I had pulled out of the house and was fighting with a debt collector over dues I apparently owed, even though I had dropped within two weeks of my semester. The girls who were supposed to be my “sisters for life” were having debt collectors bang on my 21-year-old broke ass’s door and demand $1050 for the two shitty house meals I had before I dropped. And a pin.
After reading Rebecca Martinson’s now-infamous over-the-top rant that made Maryland’s Greek Week sound like the most important and epic social event of the Goddamn century, I had PTSD to my time in my own house (which was not DG) and fondly remembered how good it felt when I no longer had to go to Business Casual Monday Meetings after an 8-hour day of classes. Fucking liberating. Because seriously, if I was comfortable enough with myself to wear sweats and flip flops around dudes I wanted to fuck, why was I being required to wear an uncomfortable suit and heels to hang out with 100 overachieving chicks after a day of astronomy and econ lectures?
Eventually, I wrote a piece in the student newspaper, The Diamondback, where I basically slammed the house and the whole concept of sororities in general. I wrote about how much of it was bullshit propaganda for women who weren’t comfortable enough in their own skin to have their own lives and who required the approval of other women to feel comfortable. I lost 70 or 80 friends on Facebook that day. Couldn’t have given a fuck less.
Sororities – at least at UMD – to me, were a joke. All the houses were dry. All the girls – for the most part – were psychotically self-conscious to a point they almost seemed like they were Lindsay Lohan (the pledges) in a dysfunctional, lesbian affair with Samantha Ronson (the older sisters). Younger girls were constantly in a drug addict-like need for approval from the older girls. I remember one night of mild hazing where I sat in the basement of our house with the lights off getting screamed at and someone brought up how slutty the girls who hooked up with the athletes were. I was the girl who hooked up with the athletes. In fact, I was wearing a t-shirt with a number on it at that very moment. Rules were put in place that we were not allowed to sleep over any guy’s places. I remember thinking “what friend actively tries to prevent you from getting laid?” A shitty one. That’s what kind. WHO GIVES A FLYING FUCK WHAT ANOTHER GIRL THINKS ABOUT YOU? Isn’t this what we’re taught now? Be yourself, have a good time, do your own thing, and befriend people who are interested in what values and goodness you can bring to each other’s lives, not who will make your reputation at a Cornerstone mixer more attractive to that d-bag from Delt? Suddenly all these women were more concerned about what these junior girls thought about them than what their own mothers thought about them.
First off, Sigma Nu probably hates hanging with you because you are a bottom three house. Not that the top three (....at least when I was there) of Tri-Delt, KD and Theta are/were any better. The girl who preffed me at Tri Delt told me the best part of being in a sorority was being able to borrow your friend’s bras. Yeah, like I was going to loan random chicks my $48 Victoria Secret bras that are padded like a bullet proof vest. FUCK OFF. Regardless, reputations count in Greek life and your whole house is probably awkward, well, because that’s your house. There is no sense in denying your house’s reputation. I’m 27 and I still remember the reps of all the houses when I was at Maryland – Tri Delt were the blondes, KD hung out with all the laxers (...I should have pledged that house, seriously), Alpha Phi wore their letters 24 hours a day 7 days a week, ADPi frequently hit up girls to make quota, SDT were all the annoying Jewish girls, DPhiE were the less annoying Jewish girls, AEPhi was the national sorority of Long Island and Rockland County, Zeta girls wore pink pearls and dead stares… There is no denying house reputations. You pick a house, you own the reputation. You don’t ignore it and yell at girls who embody it and hope your Greek Week partners ignore it too. Any girl who spent those long two weeks going through rush, house to house in the snow, crying in Stamp Student Union when you got rejected from your top house, knows these reputations exist and have for years. I’m not blowing the door open on some new, personal opinion about the houses. This is what I was taught by houses themselves. Perhaps house reps have changed since I graduated, but I think we can all agree that some variation of them exists and is well known to anyone who participates in Greek life. And anyone who says otherwise is in denial.
Girls in my pledge class were called sluts if they were seen out with a guy – I could only imagine what I was being called as I blatantly refused to stop hanging out with and hooking up with the men’s lacrosse and soccer teams. In other houses, girls were hazed and made to drink and embarrass themselves in front of dudes. Because hey, that’s what friends are for. To humiliate you and force you to eat raw onions. And not wash your hair. And cry because you don’t know the Greek alphabet.
Here’s a harsh reality of post-grad Greek Life: If you are totally dependent on your house and its shitty reputation that you seem to be in complete denial over in order to be considered socially meaningful, you are fucked for all of your adult life. Because in seven years, you won’t talk to majority of your pledge class, if any at all (...I only talk to my former Rho Gam, because she’s cool and normal). Greek Week will only matter in the context of the shirts you wear to NYSC after work. No one will give a shit about what house you were in or how many awards you won for your Greek Week skit. The fact that you are screaming at your house and the members in it because they make you look bad to a bunch of dudes who give each other random and at times mildly emasculating nicknames is a reflection of how socially inept YOU are. If you can’t promote yourself without the help of your “sisters,” it’s YOU who is socially awkward. And once graduation comes – and it comes for all of us – and you get out into the real world where you have to interact with people without planned mixers, dateds and kegs and eggs, and rely on your own personality and accomplishments instead of the collective ones of your group of “friends," you are going to be a lonely, miserable cat lady who does nothing but scrapbooks and annoyingly tells stories at the bar about how you were like, "sooo totally the VP of philanthropy in your house and it was like soooo totally rewarding."
No one wants to be friends with girls like this. And the truth is, while I’m sure sorority life is rewarding for a lot of women and good shit comes of it, I am not surprised at all by this rant. Because to me, that’s what sororities are made up of. Women who are too self-conscious to develop their own sense of self and who really think this is how real friends interact with each other. No friend of mine, at 20 or 27 would ever speak to me like that over something as fucking trivial as what Sigma Nu thinks about them. And if they did, I’d tell them to fuck off and grow the fuck up. Yes, some 20-year-old super sorority chick is going to come back and write an editorial in the DBK about how wrong I am and about the genuine friendships that are made through Greek life and the life long bonds between the sisters. You want to sugar coat it, be my guest, but as someone who was part of it and ditched it for that very reason, there’s no amount of PR, tow-the-line bullshit that can change the fact that the reality is, Rebecca Martinson’s letter reflects a good portion of the women involved in Greek life. Your philanthropy events and midnight grilled cheese sales for cancer don’t change that.
To all the ladies at UMD – Greek and otherwise – stop listening to assholes like this and start enjoying your college experience for yourself and not for your house. College goes by so fast. And letting someone dictate how you feel based on whether or not she’s being well repped at Greek Week is a fucking waste of the best time of your life. Be a friend to the people who DESERVE IT – not asshats like this whose entire existence revolves around approval from PanHel. This is not what friendship (or sisterhood) is about. This is what self-involved paranoia and future dance moms on a TLC special are about – control and a false sense of self-importance.
Go Terps. Fear the fucking turtle.
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Party girl photo via Shutterstock