Opinions

Why I left a U of C sorority

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After experiencing U of C sorority life first-hand, I am comfortable asserting that although the institution of the sorority is theoretically predicated on the principles of eternal friendship and unconditional love, it is implicitly rooted in the three tenets of sexual identity construction, image and power. It's not fair to extrapolate my experience to apply to every single chapter of every single sorority at every single institution of post-secondary learning in North America. Nevertheless, refraining from specifying to which sorority I belonged, as my words are not intended to be an attack targeted at one specific organization, I present a critique of an institution that claims to empower women, but oftentimes accomplishes precisely the opposite.

A sorority is a collegiate society originally conceived of in the 19th century United States, intended to be a milieu within which female students could gather at a time when women had just recently been permitted to attend universities alongside men. The University of Calgary is home to two of them, Alpha Gamma Delta and Alpha Omicron Pi-- the former established in 1983, and the latter colonized in 1985.

The reality is, sororities-- especially those in Alberta-- aren't what Legally Blonde or certain urban legends would lead you to believe. No, dearest readers, I did not have to drink goat's blood or swallow a goldfish. No, curious friends, I didn't have to wear pink on Wednesdays or dye my hair blonde. No, pervy guys in my first-year statistics class, there were no half-naked pillow fights involved. After 8 months as an initiated sister, however, I realized that sorority life is still more superficial than transcendent, more "strategic acquaintance" than "sister," more, well . . . high school than university.

Do you remember being 17? I was a wide-eyed Haskayne freshman in September of 2008. There are few things more appealing to the new undergraduate woman than the promise of an unconditionally supportive network of fellow females who seem to have university dialed in. This is precisely why, by that November, I would find myself in the basement of a girl I hardly knew committing my life-long allegiance to an organization whose name was in a language I didn't even understand. In my first year, I was allowed to peek into a little box full of very interesting things, and here I try to make sense and describe what I saw.

Despite the fact that men are excluded from membership, sororities are not wholly female-centred. Many events are based almost exclusively on the participation of men, and furthermore, a "sorority- approved" type of man-- the fraternity brother. In October of my first year, my sorority's mini-golf mixer with the Phi Gamma Delta (fiji) fraternity was nicely timed to precede the fraternity's formal a few weeks later, the formal being an event that brothers were expected to bring dates to. When a fiji pledge expressed an interest in me that night and in the days after, I was dropped some not-so-subtle hints by my sisters to accept a formal invitation from him, if such an invitation were to arrive.

There were implicit rules of romantic and sexual association-- it was okay to go to a date function with this brother, but not that one. It was okay to be romantically or sexually involved with a brother in a fraternity that your sorority favoured, but not with too many of them in too close a time frame, because it would reflect badly on the sorority.

As sorority sisters, we were not overtly pressured, but definitely subtly encouraged to favour romantic and even sexual relationships with fraternity men over non-fraternity men. This is a tactic that keeps romance and sex within the "family" of U of C Greeks, thus rendering it safe, manageable and ultimately able to be monitored.

Although it is unfair to generalize that every sorority member engages in this type of behaviour, the affirmation of gender roles and construction of a certain female identity is perpetuated by the institution of the sorority. Sexuality is regulated through a virgin-whore dichotomy that simultaneously endeavours to uphold the sorority's image of ladylike propriety while remaining desirable to its male counterparts. This was evident in my former sorority's annual February bash, called "Crush Party," an event wherein sisters were expected to bring one or two people (read: males) to an alcohol-fuelled club event on whom they had a romantic or sexual "crush."

In the Greek community, belonging is homogeneity, at least along socioeconomic and sexual lines. If you are not single, affluent and heterosexual, you are an outsider. I know that some of my former sorority sisters who were in relationships felt somewhat uncomfortable with the "matchmaker" undertones of fraternity mixers, and I cannot fathom how this would potentially make a queer sister feel.

One of my former sisters, who ended up cutting ties with the organization a few months after I did, explains the sorority's fixation on female identity in this way: "They're selling you this false sense of womanhood [that is] manicured, polished, accomplished." She describes the sorority "as a product-- selling identity, womanhood, social acceptance and social security" to undergraduate women in exchange for financial compensation.

Image in the sorority is much more than pearls and business formal attire, but not entirely divorced from it. One of a sorority chapter's main goals is legitimization through keeping up appearances. Accusations of a sorority's lack of involvement in the larger community are quickly refuted with claims of its emphasis on philanthropy, a term that essentially refers to raising money for causes like the Arthritis Foundation a few times a year. Community service, though, takes a backseat to money-raising in sorority life. Almost all of my sorority's "do-good" efforts were centred on collecting donations, instead of more hands-on acts of volunteerism that required involvement beyond making a few posters. As the year wore on, I realized that philanthropy was a way of masking what my sorority really was at its core-- a business and social organization that ultimately cared more about recruiting new members to pay dues than improving the community at large. Philanthropy, though not a bad thing to do by any means, allowed the members of my sorority to do "just enough" to keep up appearances within the community and thus justify its own existence.

Sorority image also has a physical component. My former sister notes the ridiculous emails she received from the sorority's vice-president of membership recruitment that put stipulations on how sisters were to groom themselves during rush, down to how their upper lips should be waxed. Rules like this were presumably put in place with the ultimate goal of attracting new members. My former sister is open about how sisters were taught to carefully construct their conversations with potential new members to glean certain bits of information from them-- things like their high school average (would they maintain the necessary gpa of 2.0 to remain in the sorority?), what their parents do for a living (would they be able to pay dues?) and what their activities were in high school (would they be likely to take on an executive position within the sorority?). It is important to note here that if a sorority chapter does not initiate a certain amount of members each recruitment period, they are in danger of having their charter revoked and being ordered to shut down by their international administration. Potential new members, then, are primarily investments applicable toward the sorority's internally-focused goal of perpetuating itself in some sort of infinite loop that bears little fruit for the greater U of C campus community. Image, then, is a way to procure these investments, and sexual identity construction under the guise of sisterhood is a way to keep them yours. Another way that sororities do this is through constructing notions of power.

At the U of C, where the Greek community's approximately 80 members make up about 0.003 per cent of the entire university population of 31,509 (as of Fall 2011), a small group's quest for influence must be predicated on creating social distance between itself and the campus "proletariat." The means? Exclusivity. The end? Power, expressed through social capital and the pursuit of on- campus influence.

Exclusivity is what makes sorority membership so appealing to a 17-year-old freshman, or even a 20-year-old junior. Reducing a campus of 30,000 to an intimate group of 80 "instant friends" that can be accessed for a yearly fee of about $800 in my case is, sadly, extremely tempting. On a more personal level, having 20 older girls who seem polished and put-together both aesthetically, academically and professionally choose you to join their ranks feels better than scoring a seat in the tfdl after only 30 seconds of wandering around. Even the name by which sororities call their selection process-- "preference parties"-- carries with it undertones of being socially desired, something that every undergraduate yearns for in the impersonal environment of university. It's why we join clubs, opt to study in the tfdl with 200 other people milling about and go to ThursDen. Socially, it's a basic need.

In her book Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororities, journalist Alexandra Robbins explains this allure of sororities as "an automatic sense of belonging, no talent or niche required." How absurd is it that 20 girls who have known you for all of six weeks are ready to pledge their eternal sisterly devotion to you?

The ultimate tragedy of the women's fraternity is that its founding principles serve not as roots, but as foils to what a sorority is today-- that what a sorority is at its core fails to resonate with the gospel of goodwill and friendship that it outwardly preaches. Sororities are a wonderful idea in theory-- women aiming to band together to effect positive societal change can have tremendously positive implications. This possible greatness, however, is inevitably crippled by the same elitism, exclusivity and institutional bureaucracy that requires the sorority to put all its effort into simply sustaining and legitimizing itself. Because of this, "lifelong sisterhood" grew old for me well before its supposed nonexistent expiry date.

Partly because I was not told the truth about the amount of dues I would have to pay over four years and partly because I was sick of being told how to judge a potential new "sister" by her Facebook profile and her high school average, I committed the sorority equivalent of apostasy and asked that my name be struck from the chapter roster in April of 2009. Today, only one of the 14 girls that I initiated with in the fall of 2008 remains an active member of my former sorority. Most of what is called my "pledge class" similarly defected.

At the end of 8 months, I didn't wish for my identity as a woman to be groomed and regulated, but celebrated. I didn't want to see fellow women as sources of sorority income, but as friends. I didn't want to be in an exclusive clique, but smack-dab in the middle of university life.

That fall, I searched for another organization on campus that dedicated itself to women's empowerment, and soon found myself leading workshops at the Women's Resource Centre and becoming involved with the Women in Leadership club. I made the brave trek to the third floor of MacHall, wrote my first piece for the Gauntlet, and eventually landed a job on its editorial board. I scored a marketing internship, switched faculties, raised my gpa to a 3.8 and started to use my hard-earned money to put gas in my car instead of writing cheques to an office in Tennessee. Not that it would have been impossible for me to do these things while being a sorority member, but deciding to change my community involvement outlook from exclusive to inclusive led me to seek out opportunities that I wouldn't have otherwise-- and let's be honest, three-hour meetings every week in binding business attire was something I don't miss.

What did I give up? Well, I lost about 20 acquaintances, but kept three good friends. I was no longer invited to sit at the "Greek" tables in MacHall during my breaks. (Yes, there are "Greek" tables, like in a high school cafeteria.) I had to return all my sorority paraphernalia, down to a plastic cup with my sorority's letters stamped on it that I used to brush my teeth with. (That was sad. I really liked that cup.)

Despite all its institutional flaws and obsession with personalized kitchenware, spending a year in a U of C sorority may have been the best decision that I have made in my university career. Ultimately, it connected me with a diverse wealth of people-- good people, in fact. An older sister offered to pay my sorority dues when I was unable to, and another coached me through a study plan when I struggled academically. Sorority involvement also alerted me to the importance of extracurricular leadership as a way to enhance the university experience, an invaluable lesson as a commuter student.

But even Elle Woods in Legally Blonde eventually had to leave the Delta Nu house and move on to law school. As for me, well, I'm $2,400 richer and infinitely happier. To the women who will initiate at the beginning of December, you don't need three Greek letters to experience real "sisterhood." Think before you join a U of C sorority.

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Comments

This is by far the most inaccurate portrayal of sorority life that I have ever had to read. Sorority life is what you make of it. If you choose to involve yourself in drama it will continue to follow you. Many members don’t have issues with drama because they don’t act like they are still in high school. I am a sorority alumna member from the University of Calgary and I would never go back and change anything about my collegiate experience. My sorority helped me discover who I am, and who I want to be. It has made me a more empathetic person, a stronger person, and has instilled values in me that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Due to my involvement I regularly contribute to my community with various projects (not just collecting money). My sorority involvement helped me accomplish my academic goals, and just like Elle Woods, I am now a law student because of it. If you choose to involve yourself in the non-materialistic aspects of Greek life, then membership would be more meaningful.

I agree with the original poster on her experiences in a U of C sorority, and sororities in general. It is very unfortunate that Andréa feels the need to criticize something that has absolutely changed my life for the better. Everyone will have a different experience, and this is definitely an organization where what you put in impacts what you receive.

Personally my academic performance has improved since becoming an initiated sister, with the help of the many programs and encouragement provided by my sorority. I have received career advice from the strong women who make up our Alumni Chapter. I have met women that I normally would not have interacted with due to differences in interests, but have come to appreciate them as my closest friends.

Philanthropy is important to me and is important to the sorority I belong to, as well as the other on campus. We do not \"do \'just enough\' to keep up appearances within the community and thus justify [our] own existence,\" but instead participate actively throughout the year in a variety of events. Some of these events are not run by us, but by the men\'s fraternities, student\'s union, and external organizations.

I have NEVER been pressured to look a certain why. On the contrary, we are actively encouraged to look like ourselves and show our true colours. This is emphasized in all the activities we do. I have never compromised myself or my values to be in a sorority. Ever.

There are no events where alcohol is encouraged. Sororities consider alcohol consumption to be a personal decision, and while members are not discouraged from consuming alcohol on their own time, they are never encouraged to do so.

I have never dated a fraternity brother, nor been pressured to. Everything a member does is her own choice. The emphasis on sexuality is actually upsetting, as it is sending an inaccurate and untrue message about sororities. We do not \"favour romantic and even sexual relationships\" with the fraternities. Many of the women are in committed relationships outside of Greek Life, and many are single.

You do not have to be \"single, affluent, and heterosexual\" to part of these organizations. When I joined, I was in a relationship and working to support myself. Currently I have two jobs to help make ends meet.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and I do not fault Andréa for expressing her own. My issue is with how this opinion piece essentially attacks the core of sorority values. I believe the other side needs to be heard and would love to be contacted to provide a current and accurate description of U of C sororities.

I agree with the Anonymous comment below.
Joining a sorority made me a stronger, more confident, more capable woman. I have never felt as though I was lied to about what I was getting into and I\'ve never regretted joining. I do not agree with the accusation of elitism, as many women, including myself, come from less then fortunate backgrounds and have still been welcomed into a sorority without any form of judgement. While this particular person may not have felt lifelong sisterhood, there is many women who do. Many women stay involved with their sororities for decades after they have graduated because of the positive impact it had on their lives as a collegiate. I have never felt any pressure to sleep with a fraternity brother or to party harder then I\'d like to, and I\'ve still remained very actively involved in my organization for several years . For anyone who has never met a sorority woman at the UofC, check out either of the Chapters websites and look at what a wide variety of women belong to each group. A sorority will give you as much as you put into it. I truly have made the best friends I\'ve ever had because of joining, I\'ve been promoted at my job because of the skills I have learned in my offices, and I\'ve improved my grades an entire grade point because of both the support of my sisters and the academic resources organized within chapter.

If you put nothing in to your sorority, you probably got nothing out of it. Move on with your life, but do not criticize the way we\'ve chosen to live ours.

Also, just for your own information, when Elle Woods left the Delta Nu house, she did not just walk away from her Chapter, she graduated and became a loyal alumnae, just as I, and many other Greek women plan to when we are done.

As someone who has joined a sorority at U of C and then dropped out after a year, I completely agree with everything that was written in this article.

After shelling out $800 for the first year and then being informed about extra fees in the coming years that I would be expected to pay, I realized that what I thought would be a life changing experience turned out to be a social clique that I was not cut out to be a part of. I won\'t go into all the details about my experience, but I had a very similar experience to Andrea. For example, I was part of many extra curricular activities during my first year of University and did a lot of work with community development in Calgary. Instead of supporting and encouraging me in my volunteer work, I was constantly sent e-mails from \"standards\" regarding my lack of attendance at mixers and organized parties. Though I didn\'t fully invest my time in my sorority, I can definitely say Andrea did. She was at every event, helped organize philanthropic initiatives, and went to weekly meetings in her \"business attire\". Her decision to leave the sorority was valid and based on real experience with the organization.

Andrea knows what\'s going on!! I applaud her for effort to speak up about the problems with these organizations. She is a brilliant, hard-working, confident woman who will do great things for the world.

We are our decisions. And it is true, sorority life is not for everyone, but isn\'t that a decision that each and every university student should make for themselves?

When I joined a sorority, I had already finished the majority of my degree and was one of the older members of the sorority. I was walking through Mac Hall one day and a girl handed me a flyer and said come to our open house. I thought, “Whatever... maybe after my 5000 page paper due in a couple hours that I have yet to start...yeah right!” and tossed it in my bag. Later, while laughing with a friend, we decided to take a break from the echoing silence of the Law Library to laugh at all the sorority freaks, because I held the same view of sororities that keeps most people away.

When I arrived I saw laughter, friendship, and individuality, and my negative mindset going in was dramatically altered. I saw what a diverse group of people these women were (one of whom was actually Andrea). I do not fault her for her views at all, but I also believe that she is taking a small aspect of the sorority experience and using it as an argument not to join a sorority, which I don’t think is fair.

I remember the first year I was in the sorority, Andrea actually won quite a few awards at our year end formal, for optimism and sisterhood, which is what the whole experience is about. I left the sorority with lifelong friends, a ton of pictures, and memories that no one will ever be able to duplicate.

I remember hanging out at girls’ houses in pajamas taking pictures and doing crafts, giggling, doing our nails, playing board games, watching movies, baking. I remember going ice skating and on a haunted tour with the guys. I remember camping in tipis and being woken up in the middle of the night by a late arriving sister who brought us junk food. Going on an adventure through the wilderness to spy on campers who we thought were good looking guys from afar. I remember going on midnight adventures and going to Wendy’s for ice cream after waiting in line for the Den and nearly being cooked by the body heat sweltering in the hall, and playing playing fooseball for 5 hours straight. I remember dancing to the Wicked soundtrack at our formal and giving an award to my best friend. And I could go on...

I also remember sitting in the bathroom with a friend crying over a boy, being worried sick after hearing a sister was in the hospital, and knowing a group of people I could immediately call if I was in trouble.

It is true that some people may have bad experiences, but I believe that all experience is what you make of it and I choose to take away all the good and leave all the bad. Because friendship is never easy and there will always be good and bad times, but that doesn’t mean that you should never make friends. Does it?

If you want to join a sorority, do it. If you don’t, then don’t. But never let someone affect your decision to do it, because their experiences are not yours.

That people wont be your friends for money shouldn\'t really as much of a suprise as this article makes it appear to be.

You know, I never really read to the end of an article, so congrats to you for that. Even more impressive is for me to bother writing anything.
From these other comments I have gathered something, people are who they are. If you want to be a sorority girl or a frat guy, fine. If you don\'t then you are just one among millions. Congrats to both sides. I have never wanted to be a sorority girl, I am not a sorority girl, nor will I ever be one. While it isn\'t for me, I don\'t deny that some people would be perfect for it, so why would anyone want to deprive someone of that?
It sucks that the author of this post had a negative experience, but it sounds to me that this is a lot deeper than being picked on about grooming. All I really gathered from this is that it costs a lot, certain frats are more elite than others, and they expect you to brush your hair. While I suppose us University types are at a loss for proper hygiene in between exams and finals and papers and more exams and presentations and more papers, etc, I don\'t think that is a wholly negative thing.
As for elitism and exclusivity, I pick and choose my friends too. I don\'t choose to be friends with people who impose their own opinions on others, drug addicts, crazy cat ladies, hippies, religious fanatics, homeless people, book worms, Beiber-ites, punks, goths, and the list would go on. And if that doesn\'t sit well with you, fine, that\'s my choice. But don\'t you have a similar selection process?
As for bureaucracy, well, I think that\'s just fine and dandy. Order is good, or else the whole world would be one big night at the Den.
So, while I am really neither here nor there on this issue, I found it interesting that it didn\'t take a long time for the sorority types to band together and defend what they believe in, maybe that should tell you something.

Though I respect the public declaration of your opinion on sorority life, it is unfair to say that you would refrain from specifying the sorority you were once involved with as it is not an attempt to target the one organization, then target the philanthropic foundations and events these girls work hard for. It is now 2011 and things do change within three years though some things do remain the same. These charities and events are still present, but the approach and outlook have changed since 2008.

As a current member, I can say that we do more for philanthropy rather than just collecting money and making posters. Whether it is through the Greek System, the SU, or an external organization, there are many girls that work hard to arrange these events and encourage other girls to join them. It is not \"just enough\" to keep up appearances. Many have been involved with external organizations before joining the sorority. The sorority allows more hands to be involved.

I joined because being not involved in anything my first year of school led me to poor grades, minimal class attendance, and little desire to further my volunteering. When I joined my sorority, many girls (some still in the sorority, some not) helped in increasing my GPA, giving me motivation to go to class, and gave me a window to delve back into volunteering and helping out the community. Though I admit that there are stressful times being in a sorority, it does not detract from all the positive things I have gained from joining.

As many have mentioned above, being in a sorority is not for everybody. There is a large period of time for someone to realize that. Some may realize whether it is right or wrong for them immediately, but some may need extra time, which is not frowned upon by any means. Being in the sorority is what you make from it. Though you and some others did have their reasons for leaving, there are many more that have different reasons for staying with the organization.

PS: I had actually heard about the sorority from someone who left the sorority the same year as you. I did think about her decisions and words about the sorority, but it did not affect how I felt about the sorority or any of its members.

As a current member of the greek system and one who personally joined the same semester as you I find this article offensive. First I raise the following questions. Why do you come forward with this all 2 years after the fact? Why do you only mention a negatively biased point of view of \"bad experiences\" rather than also focusing on the good? Why not focus on the good we do for the community? I have helped over 4 years to raise over $40,000 for various charities. I have made friends who otherwise I would not have met. I have been involved on campus and helped better the University of Calgary.

If it weren\'t for the greek system I would not have had the support I did when I lost my 2 year old nephew. If not for the greek system I wouldn\'t have the friends I do today. If not for the greek system I would have landed my first job in the real world working towards a better future.

You mention all these negatives in your article but fail to tell all of the story. You did not lose friends or acquaintances in the greek system because you left, but rather because after you left you negatively talked about the sorority to everyone you talked to. You fail to mention the laughter and fun times you got out of it. Not once have I ever paid for my friends, and I know when I graduate they will still be as much of friends then as they are today.

This is one opinion of one bad experience, and frankly I think by mentioning this two years down the road in the format you did is a childish cry for attention that hurts many people. U of C students I urge you to make your own decisions and decide if greek life is for you. I am still friends with many people who have left the fraternities and sororities because I respect them as individuals.

Do not make your decisions based off of the biased attacks of one person, make your own choices!

While I can sympathize with the writer’s situation of not enjoying her time in her sorority, I would like to agree with many of the previous commenters and say that being in a sorority or fraternity is not for everyone. I for one have been a member of the fraternity mentioned in this article, Phi Gamma Delta, for nearly three years now. I can confidently say that some the best experiences of my life have been with the group of gentlemen that I am proud to call brothers.

With this group of gentleman I have had some of the greatest nights out, and also some of the most enjoyable nights in of my life. I have had the pleasure of traveling to other chapters of our fraternity with my friends and being received with open arms by the brothers in that city.

But more importantly than any of those times, my brothers have been there for me when I need it most. In my first year of University, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, an event which obviously hit me very hard. Through an entire year of uncertainty and worry, my friends in Phi Gamma Delta, as well as many individuals in the other fraternity and sororities were there for me and family. The care and compassion that I received during this time was important to me in a way that I cannot overstate. They helped me keep going with my studies, and ran with me when I ran a charity run to raise money and awareness for cancers below the waste in The Underwear Affair. So while Greek life may have not been for you, it has undoubtedly been an immensely positive benefit to my life.

In your article you portray us as slavering cads who only seek to have sex with sorority girls. I must emphasize that nothing is further from the truth. While some do end up in relationships with a sorority girl, many brothers come into the fraternity in committed relationships, and many more find their other outside of the Greek community. However, we all leave after our four years with lifelong friendships that would never have existed had we not joined a fraternity.

Greek life isn’t for everybody, but for those whom it is, it gives back so much more than any one of us can hope to put in.

Its truly sad that one person\'s bad experiences in the Greek System could potentially drive away interested students.

I joined my UofC sorority in Fall 2009, and I can honestly say it was the best decision I have made in my university career, besides the year aborad I am currently doing in Germany.
When I started at the University, I only had my friends from high school, and I was looking to network and meet new people. I met some of the most interesting, incredible people ever, and I can honestly say that without the Greek System, I never would have met them.

You are never expected to like or even get along with everyone in your chapter, but you are expected to work through your problems, and problem-solve like adults. I can honestly say, that with some of my sisters, I did act quite childish, and high-school-like, but please understand I JUST CAME FROM HIGH SCHOOL. I matured and learned so much in my short time in my chapter.

When I transfered universities to change my program, I joined the alumni network, which has been incredible. And even now, living in the heart of Bavaria, I have sisters who are coming to visit me for Christmas and who I talk to one Skype everyday.

Im sorry you had a poor experience, but DO NOT try to ruin this for the rest of us.

Joining a sorority has been one of the best decisions I have made so far in my university life, and I have never once regretted my decision. It gave me a chance to meet people I wouldn\'t have met otherwise, got me involved in charity work both on and off campus (for example, my sorority went to hot yoga to support local charities, and we helped set up for the Kids Cancer Care Foundations father daughter banquet), and encouraged me to improve my grades. I understand that the author of this article did not have the best experience in her sorority, and that is extremely unfortunate because the Greek System at the University of Calgary has been amazing to me.
Last year I struggled with a lot of things, and without the support of my friends from the Fraternities and the other Sorority, I don\'t think I would of been able to complete the year. I have been able to count on my friends through some of the toughest times of my life. We are a very close group of people, and I know that I can count on them when I am having a bad day.
I have also been in a relationship with a frat guy and a non Greek member, and everyone was equally accepting of both relationships. I know that some Greek members still talk to him even though we have broken up.
I am so proud of the sorority that just completed their 24 hour teeter totter for tots event this morning, the teeter totter was going for the entire 24 hours. This event was a fun way to raise awareness about juvenile diabetes. We do a lot for the community, and not because we have to, but because we believe that it is important to contribute to our community in a positive way.
Fortunately, I have been very lucky with my Greek experiences, and I am sorry that the author did not. We understand that Sororities are not for everyone, and that is way we offer a new member period to decide whether or not it is right for you. I wouldn\'t change my experiences so far, and I would encourage everyone to form their own opinion about the sororities and fraternities on campus.

I was in a sorority during my entire university career. I had some poor experiences, too. But the poor experiences are massively outweighed by the great ones.
Attending university is a learning experience in both academic and personal respects. Andrea\'s review of sorority-fraternity mixers as being sexually fuelled is not incorrect. However I must comment that this phenomenon is a natural biological response when thirty teens and 20-somethings are in a room together. By no spoken or implicit means was romance a goal of these planned mixers. To blame human nature on an organization is crass. Furthermore it devalues the meaningful relationships people did and do build between one another as a result of these events. I met my husband at one of these mixers. I’m offended that Andrea has cheapened my love story into a porno. Without my affiliation to a sorority I would not have met the wonderful man that is now my life mate.

My experience of sorority life at the U of C was mixed with both great successes and few let downs. But i suspect that true of any organization one joins. Yes the fees are high, and sometimes they are tough to make, but i was always offered help to make the payments and i was never shunned or excluded from any event or from just sitting at the greek tables because i was behind. I also didn\'t join the sorority to party, i joined it to network which is exactly what professionals in the real world do when they sign up with any organization or association (for which they will also pay fees btw!). Because of this i was able to find a job in corporate calgary when the economy was in the toilet and no one seemed to be hiring. I have since found a job for another sister in a similar situation.

If you do join a sorority to party, you will definately find the opportunity to do so, but that\'s true for anyone on campus. You don\'t need to be greek to find a kegger or get drunk on BSD. It\'s also true that having a non greek boyfriend made things a little awkward at events such as the yearly formal. He always felt a little bit out of place at these events, but that was more due to his personality rather than any active efforts on the part of my fellow greeks.

In the end i chose to take alumnae status early because, although i was tight with my pledge class, the younger 18-19 year olds coming up the ranks exhuasted me with their drama and i didn\'t like the way the chapter was heading. I think that is the point the author is missing, if her experience with the sorority was so awful, she could have taken steps to change it. She could have run for an executive position in the yearly elections and perhaps even become president. I found that the president set the tone for the chapter. If you have a party girl president, you are going to have a party girl chapter, if she is more focused on philanthropy and preparing the girls for life after university (learning Robert\'s Rules of Order actually paid off!!!)then the chapter will reflect that as well.

Sorority life is about what you make of it. You can use it to make you resume look fantastic, and make connections that will help make the transition to the real world a little bit smoother, or you can use those four years to party it up and create some pretty epic profile pictures. Or perhaps you can do both. Either way i don\'t regret pledging in my first year, i made some fantastic friends who i still stay in touch with and learned some valuable lessons about working and dealing with people that you may not have much in common with. A skill that serves one well in the real world.

As a student at the U of C who was involved with a sorority (the same one mentioned in this article, in fact), I agree with just about everything Andrea said.

It definitely feels like they are selling you an identity with sorority membership. During recruitment and throughout the new member process, if you expressed hesitancy or doubt regarding the fees, you were instantly reassured that it was a small price to pay in the grand scheme of things - that in exchange for your money, you were receiving a group of sisters to unconditionally love and accept you forever, a valuable network of connections, and priceless experiences that you would otherwise miss out on. They don\'t mention that the majority of your \"sisters\" have difficulty remembering your name for months after you join, that meetings display cliques very similar to those in high school. They fail to tell you that the majority of those \"priceless experiences\" feel like carefully constructed attempts to convince you that the sorority is a positive part of your life (because, heaven forbid, \"what\'s her face\" disassociates and makes the sorority look bad because they\'re down a member).

The information Andrea provided about rush and recruitment tactics actually makes me feel sick to my stomach. When you are participating in recruitment as a potential new member, you believe that these girls are making you feel welcome because they genuinely respect you as a person and want you to be a part of their group because of that. However, the conversation topics of GPA, parents\' careers, and high school activities sound all too familiar. It doesn\'t take much to realize that the girls you thought wanted to be your friends were actually just looking for another member to add to their list and another 800 dollars to send to \"international\". And once you realize that, you suddenly find better things to do with your 800 dollars and better ways to spend your time with people that like you - not because your GPA is \"Pi\" or because you had the best outfit at the business meeting, but simply because you are you.

So here goes:

I am actually mentioned twice (not by name) in this article, and honesty felt personally attacked when I first read through it. So I decided to write a comment that I feel further explores the points made in the article.

The first point I would like to make is that the article does not mention that the same older sister who offered to help Andrea pay her fees is the VPMR who sent out the \'ridiculous emails\' and coached on \'construct(ing) their conversations\'. I actually went back into my inbox and re-read the emails that I had sent out more than two years ago to see that if reading them now made them seem inappropriate. Some may call me shallow, but I don\'t. Sending out an email requesting that members wax their upper lips (From the email: \"Not only will this enhance your overall look, but it will also help you to feel less self-concious\"), double check their wardrobes for stains/wrinkles, avoiding foods that give bad breath, and avoiding cleavage showing tops is something that I find genuinely helpful.

I work as a makeup artist, and the number one question I get from clients is how to best represent themselves in a professional setting. I give them the same tips I gave these girls during recruitment and every time I offer this advice I am met with appreciation, not scorn. If I were to walk into an interview with lipstick on my teeth, bad breath, pants falling down and ungroomed hair, you can bet that most likely I would be passed over for another candidate who had taken the time to give the best first impression of him/herself.

As for conversation coaching, this is something that I still find useful today. Being able to read into the deeper meaning of what people say helps to find what they are really looking for. When someone says they didn\'t do very well in high school, how will they do in University? Will they be able to handle the full-time commitment of the sorority and keep their grades up? Academics are important and as a sorority we don\'t want people to sacrifice their studies for the more \'fun\' activities.

I liked the comment made by poster #7, who points out that we do this same selection process every day on our own. Whether we are interviewing for a job, or deciding who we want to spend Saturday Movie Nights with, I certainly don\'t want to spend my free time with someone who I don\'t get along with.

I would also like to point out that regarding the comment on Facebook profiles: It was part of a short seminar on how we present ourselves online. Potential employers are now searching Facebook to see how we present ourselves, and if we are not aware of this then it could later come back to bite us in the rear.

I feel like Andrea and the unnamed former sister who comments in the article are deliberately looking at the negative, and posting it to inspire conversation and controversy (which, behold!). However, I took away from my 4 years at the University of Calgary and a member of Alpha Omicron Pi so many amazing experiences that I could never regret joining. I may not have the closest relationship with every person I met while in the Sorority, but every time I attend an Alumna meeting or visit a Chapter gathering I still feel the same love and welcome that I felt when I first walked into a recruitment room.

Greek life is not for everyone, but I have made some of the best friends of my life, from every Greek Group on campus (men and women), that I would never have met otherwise.

If anyone who reads this comment would like any more information on what a Sorority was like for me, please feel free to contact me via email. I am proud to identify myself as an Alpha Omicron Pi Kappa Lambda Chapter Alum, and grateful for the life lessons that I learned in my four years.

\"Too many times we attack things we don\'t like, not things that are wrong!\" - Todd Catteau

People should take charge of how their prejudices can cloud their judgement. People attack what they fear, what they envy, what they can\'t have. Perhaps that is the reason this is still an issue 2 years after the fact...

It makes me think of what prompted this article now?

Is this intended to try and save the initiates as the last line appears to preach?

For an article that condemns a group of people for apparently forcing things on girls, these words seem to force a decision of another kind.

As a former member of the OTHER u of c sorority, i\'d have to say you joined the wrong one. I couldn\'t fathom being emailed about how to wax my upper lip from those girls.

I am disappointed that this biased opinion piece was worthy of being front page news, particularily when it is of a defamatory nature and directly impacts 4 SU-sanctioned student clubs.

While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, its sad that this article could cause even one person to reconsider joining a fraternity on campus. While joining a fraternity is not for everyone, like the posters above, I encourage students to make up their own mind and consider what a fantastic and enriching experience it could be.

As a U of C alum, I credit so many of my accomplishments to the women\'s fraternity I joined in 2004 (and still am a part of). As a naive 18 year old, I had low self confidence and few friends who also attended the U of C. I also had poor study habits and was already struggling in my first semester of classes.

The women\'s fraternity gave me self confidence. After taking on various positions within the chapter, I now have no problem public speaking, which is a huge asset in my career.

It also helped my grades. Being a part of something so exciting made me WANT to succeed academically. I was able to do so with the tools provided through the sorority, such as a test bank, study halls, and minimum GPA standards (higher than 2.0 for various VP positions, might I add.)

Instead of just showing up for class and going home afterwards like so many students do at a commuter college, I felt like I was a part of something on campus. And I was. I absolutely disagree with the writer\'s comments on philanthropy. We partook in the campus holiday food drive, we did things like make sandwiches for the women\'s shelter, we raised money for arthritis with various events... I could go on. In fact, the Calgary Alumnae chapter just finished a highly successful silent auction in benefit of arthritis. The philanthropy is so much more than \"money raising\" - I would like to see other student groups do as much philanthropy as the greeks on campus do.

The networking opportunities helped me get a job not once but twice. One of those jobs is where I met my significant other (not a frat boy, might I add). The other is my current job, which I would likely have not been considered for if not for having a connection on the inside.

My sisters never ever judged me for having a non greek boyfriend, in fact, they encouraged it. They accepted him, and still do. I dated frat boys while in college, yes, but it was wholly my decision. Nobody told me to date them. I never felt any sort of pressure to do so. My sisters supported my decisions.

Furthermore, I find it interesting that the writer complains about the once a week business meetings while wearing business attire for a few hours. In the real world, many people wear business attire all day, Monday to Friday, and they partake in more than one business meeting each week.

Lastly, almost all of my closest friends are women I met in the sorority. I have been a bridesmaid for 2 sisters and will be doing so again in the Spring. When I get married, almost my whole bridal party will consist of my sorority sisters. I have made lifelong friends and cherish these relationships. The sorority did so much for me, personally and professionally, and it is sad to see that one individual\'s negative experience could potentially influence a whole campus.

It’s unfortunate that Andrea had a bad experience with her sorority, but her portrayal here is inflammatory and extremely unfair. As an alumna of a U of C sorority, I can say without hesitation that joining was the best decision of my university career.

When I transferred to the U of C, I didn’t know anyone on campus. By joining my sorority, I immediately had something in common with 40 other women from a variety of faculties whom I would never have met otherwise, and many of them are still good friends of mine. Unlike joining another club, sororities encourage you to excel in many facets of university life, from academic (they require you to keep your grades up and provide study groups and test banks to help you do it), to philanthropic (aside from raising money, we donate our time at charity events and fully support sisters who volunteer outside of chapter), to a multitude of social events which do include parties but also include movie nights, sports activities, camping trips, craft days, and so on. In fact, all official sorority events are alcohol-free.

Do sorority girls date frat guys? Some do. And some don’t. I had a boyfriend when I joined my sorority who I’m still with today and I never felt any pressure from my sorority friends or frat brothers to break off my relationship, and my boyfriend was always welcome at social events. Of course there was sometimes romantic and sexual tension among the Greeks, but that’s true of any co-ed university group, or really any time girls and guys are together in one room so it’s ridiculous of Andrea to paint Greek mixers as some kind of sexual hazing.

As for her assertion that you are expected to conform to certain standards and that the sorority somehow shapes your identity, I would say that that is certainly true and I’m grateful for all of the “shaping” that I received. I learned how to behave at business meetings, how to network and get to know people, how to coordinate with others for the good of an organization. I was expected to dress appropriately for business and formal events and to conduct my behavior with a mind to the impact my actions would have on the people and organizations associated with me. These are all skills that have served me extremely well in life and have helped my professional career.

Regarding fees, it’s true that a portion of our dues go back to the international organization to finance the running of the sorority. They have full-time managers and administrators who expect to be paid a salary, after all. The majority of the dues remain within chapter, though, to pay for all of the events that the chapter puts on over the year. A portion is also donated to the sorority’s designated philanthropy.

Finally, I’ll mention that I moved to Vancouver last year, and again I knew nobody. The Vancouver alumna chapter of my sorority welcomed me warmly, however, and I’m now involved here as an alumna advisor and have made friends in my new home through my sorority network.

Andrea’s experience with her sorority may have been an unhappy one, but mine enriched my university experience and has continued to benefit my personal and professional life. So please, don’t let one girl’s personal unhappiness deter you from seeking out all that sorority life has to offer you.

I was one of the 14 girls in the pledge class that quit the sorority in 2009. It became very apparent after I joined that sorority life was not for me; however, I recognize that many people have benefited from the experience and I don\'t condemn the existence of such an organization at the school.

With that in mind, it must be said that my personal experience was less than desirable. The \"friendships\" I made in the sorority where somewhat superficial. I was invited to all the Greek events including mixers and charity fundraisers, but not one girl invited me to go shopping or grab a coffee. To no surprise I\'ve lost all contact with anyone in the Greek system. The sorority ran very much like a business, in which each member was required to devote time and effort to the functioning of this society. To some this might be a small price to pay, to others (including me), this was lost time that could be devoted to studies or to an actual job that pays. Not to mention the fees to get in the sorority were substantial, and till this day I have no idea how that money was used. I found that I was given up a lot for an organization that wasn\'t giving a lot back.

Ultimately, I believe there are many other organizations at the university that offer a more effective (and cheaper) way to meet new people and gain volunteer experience. However, joining a sorority does provides a sense of community among the entire Greek system which can be comforting in such a large school. To those thinking of joining a sorority don\'t simply rely on the words of this article, or the words of the disgruntled sorority members. At the end of the day everyone is different and so are their experiences. Initially when I left the sorority I was angry. I definitely didn\'t get my money back and to top that off, I was forced to pay even more fees for quitting. While I can honestly say my experience was not a positive one, there is no denying that there are people who have greatly benefited from joining.

As a current student who joined a U of C sorority in my first year and subsequently dropped out in my third, I want to say that this article is exaggerated and largely false.

Instead of writing this article and thinking you outsmarted an institution rooted in perceived manipulation, control, shallow principles and regulation could you not simply look back at your experiences as a valuable part of your past? You acknowledge the sorority was the best decision you could have made in your university career because of the personal connections it offered to you. Isn\'t that an accomplishment?

U of C is a difficult place to meet new people and many end up sticking with the same group of high school friends they graduated with. You didn\'t...why not be happy with that instead of attacking the institution where they came from.

Not everyone enters a sorority in their first year and leaves alongside graduation in their fourth year. There is no rule that states only those who completed four years in a sorority can say they had a good time. I was not interested in staying in chapter for longer than 2 years and left gracefully gaining wonderful friends and experiences that will stay with me for the rest of my life and have largely shaped who I am today. Didnt you do the same?

its great that you\'re involved in the Gauntlet and the Women\'s Resource Center but im sure, just like sororities, there are people and policies within them that you and everyone else involved do not wholly support. You seem to think your involvement in these organizations crowns you with self proclaimed compassion, community mindedness and morality. Just like a sorority, membership is essentially meaningless unless you put forth the time/effort to make something of it. Nice holier-than-though attitude.

You seem just as shallow and petty as the women you attempt to portray in this article. Its a shame you couldn\'t leave gracefully.

Although the greek community at UofC has many amazing parts that you have chosen not to highlight (which is understandable considering the title of your article is \"why I LEFT a sorority\" not why you join)there are also many things that you have just glossed over which could really be more examples of how horrible this culture is.

Examples of these:

High School Drama
-Many of the members of this community thrive off of the drama that they have created. Whether you are an AGD, AOPi, Fiji or KSig chances are someone in another one of the groups has talked about you (many times while sitting around the \"greek tables\"). In fact during one of the fraternities recent formals during a roast of a graduating brother it focused mainly on a sorority girls indiscretions.

There is always some sort of issue going on and backstabbing that is happening. So called best friends speak ill of each other daily. Much of this causes distrust within the community and really just a power struggle. I have gotten many texts messages moments after something has happened to tell me the latest gossip. Even when I don\'t attend parties I get play by play text messages of what is going on.

Formals/Parties

-FUELED by alcohol. Frat parties with rampant amounts of everclear in their \"speciality drinks\" (not roofies... to be clear. just a high percentage of alcohol. Black outs everywhere. Puke everywhere. Drinking and driving all over town. Even in a so called \"dry house\" are there many drunken stories. Especially the fraternity formals are just ridiculous. People having sex AT THE EVENT... in hotel bathrooms or sexual favors happening under the table during dinner... don\'t even get me started on the formal after parties back at the frat houses. Almost like a movie with people disappearing into dark corners and empty bedrooms.

There is so much more that could be said about all groups. Just random snapshtos include pledges of a sorority showing up at a frat house in the middle of the night just to have sex, girls who have deep seeded mental issues, rampant drugs during these parties, initiation weekends that teeter on the line of hazing under the guise of teaching perseverance, men who pretend to be gentlemen and treat women with little to no respect, near-sociopathic tendencies and I could go on.

Finally someone has shed some light on this disgusting community.

Comment. #17 started off by saying \"Too many times we attack things we don\'t like, not things that are wrong!\" - Todd Catteau

This was used in criticism of the article, which I think is ironic given that it\'s more applicable to the comments that have been posted here.

As a student at the u of c who didn\'t know much about the \'greek\' system before hand I can tell you that my view of sororities wasn\'t super negative. My impression after reading the article was something along the lines of \"those fees seem kind of hefty but I suppose you could look at the actions the author lists as a type of mentorship which may just be worth it.\"
I didn\'t feel like the story really attacked anyone or the institution of sororities, just made it sound like the mentoring was not what she was hoping for. I felt the author was fair in mentioning some of the kidness she recieved.

That was after reading the story. After reading the comments posted here by sorority members (current and illumina) I have a much more negative view of sororities.

Instead of just saying \'that wasn\'t my experience\' a lot of commenters went on to lash out at the author in true high school style.

Ladies (and the one gentleman), you\'ve done more damage than good here in your attempt at damage control. It seems a lot of offense was taken to the story, past the point of hyperbole. Either you need thicker skin, or this story touched a nerve of something true about your organizations.

In response to (#24). I just want to say that I am NOT a sorority girl.

I simply have massive boring breaks between classes. The reason this one caught my eye was because it doesn\'t show the other side of things.

Maybe my quote was not exactly what you would have interpreted from the article, and I apologize, but I think it is valid. I also agree with your thought about it referring to the comments. Clearly there are posts that dislike this article, but you cannot deny that the article clearly has an agenda.

I also find that the comments are the most interesting part, but not for the same reasons. I see them as a banding together to defend something that they obviously believe in. Clearly they are written with passion and some in anger, but wouldn\'t you feel the same way having something you care a lot about slandered? A lot of what the author is saying is probably true, I\'m not denying that, nor am I defending the organizations that she is talking about. I just feel that they are simply a matter of one person\'s experience and opinion and yet they are being portrayed as fact. If I like Vanilla and you like Chocolate, should we write articles condemning one another or trying to convince people not to try one or the other? (yes, a stupid example, but again, same idea)

I find it very interesting that you don\'t see this as an attack. As poster #16 says, it mentions her, perhaps not by name, but her all the same. Regardless of whether anything is true or not, it is an opinion slapped on the front page of a paper that is passed around a group of contemporaries, peers, colleagues. If that isn\'t slander, well.

Yes there are a few comments that are... unnecessary, to say the least, but not all of them. In fact, I\'d say, for the most part, they do great justice to the institution...

Regarding your final comment, and this may seem a hyperbolic situation, and possibly offensive, which I in no way intend it to be, but, if I posted a story about you, telling people to stay away and \"think\" before giving you a chance, for various reasons, based on a single person\'s experience, would you not be offended, regardless whether it was true or not? Perhaps you\'d need a thicker skin.

Of course the story has an agenda, it\'s an opinion story, not news. When sororities talk about joining, they don\'t tell you the other side- like how many people end up dropping out. That being said, the opinion isn\'t \"don\'t join a sorority\" it\'s \"think first\".

Critisizing an institution and the communications they send out to members is hardly slander ESPECIALLY if names aren\'t named. It\'s obvious this is meant as a critique of the institution of sororities, not the people in them. Seriously, google slander, this hardly constitutes as such.

Sororities are institutions that collect fees and are sanctioned by the SU, therefore they can and should be open to critization. Yay freedom of speach!

That goes for any clubs, even those that I belong to. If the criticisms are correct, I would consider revamping things and if they\'re not I would explain how and why they are not true in a public forum like this- without the personal attacks. Personal attacks are more akin to slander than what\'s been published in this article.

(comment on post #26)
\"If the criticisms are correct, I would consider revamping things and if they\'re not I would explain how and why they are not true in a public forum like this- without the personal attacks.\"

Though I agree with this statement, I do believe some of the above posters did try to address some things presented in the article (for example, the comments regarding academic expectations). It is still an OPINION article, but some things seem to be presented as fact, which may have upset some readers. In the piece and several comments, don\'t they mention how minimum grades are required? Some do say that the requirement seems shallow, but others have defended it by saying how academics are important in order to ensure the academic success of individuals or by avoiding overburdening them.

Yes, some comments do seem to be attacks, others do seem to explain things that may have been taken out of context without attacking the writer.

I think this piece was written to garner attention. It seems to have done the job. Speaking for myself, my views on sororities and fraternities remain the same as they were before the article (based on personal acquaintances belonging to the \"greek system\"). At the end of the day, people will think whatever they want to think. If you want this opinion piece to affect you, it will. If you don\'t, it won\'t.

I think the fundamental issue with this article is that it presents an opinion as fact. Even though she says at the beginning that her experiences are not representative (simply subjective), the entire piece is built around wide generalizations.

This is not an attack on the author. Rather, this is something that I feel the Gauntlet overlooked in publishing the such an article. Yes, it is an opinion. But the tone of the article is so accusatory. Furthermore, it seems the story is incredibly sensationalized -- again, blurring the line between opinion and fact. Additionally, why would the Gauntlet publish a piece essentially attacking 4 SU-sanctioned clubs? Does that mean I can write an article cautioning people about joining the video game club because I don\'t agree with their activities? Because they didn\'t live up to my expectations after I joined?

Quite obviously not. It is just that the Greek system is an easy target. This speaks volumes about the unprofessional attitude of the Gauntlet editors in choosing to run such a story.

I am sorry that Andrea didn\'t enjoy her time at her sorority. However, people should also realize that her single opinion is not representative at all of the Greek system. I have personally known so many men and women who have benefited from these institutions -- myself included.

I have made life-long friends, I have grown as a person and I\'ve done some awesome things. Wherever I go, I will have a support system already there for me. This experience has given me so much and it can give so much to others as well. Please weigh both sides of the issue before making up your mind about the institutions of sororities and fraternities.

I am the one member remaining from that pledge class of 14 back in Fall 2008, and still heavily involved in my Chapter. I have refrained from commenting until now, in order to get my thoughts together. My fellow Greeks have made many valid arguments about the invalidity of this article through the comments they have posted. I could easily address Andréa’s three main tenets and the events she uses to support them and present my own opinion. I feel as though this will simply turn into a ‘he said, she said’ situation if that route is taken.

The strongest argument against the validity and reality of this article is this:

Today the sorority written about in this article initiated all 18 of our new members. Not one of them left, or even hesitated after reading this article. And yes, they all read the article prior to initiations, we did not attempt to hide it from them.

If the actions of our group were at all similar to how they are portrayed in this article I am sure it would have struck a chord with our new members, and they may have expressed doubts about initiating or even left. In our conversation about the article it was expressed that this is not what they have experienced, so the article did not make them reconsider their decision to join. In the end this article has not hurt us as an organization; rather it has strengthened our bonds, caused many to reflect on their own experiences and brought the entire Greek community together.

Haha; stop taking it too personal sisters and non-sisters!! Question the principles and ideas of the sororities; your sororities!! Do some reflexion, no feeling reaction! This article is written to make you think about the subject, so do it! What are the place, role and goals of the sororities and how they help you, as a woman and women in general or in definition.

First let me just say it was a breath of fresh air reading the insights from both Candace and Carla. They were very eloquent in their comments about their experiences. I think both groups are very lucky to have them as members. I thought I’d put in my thoughts regarding this matter. I apologize in advance at the length, but I thought I should get out all my opinions so I don’t have to post again.

I sympathize with Andrea regarding her sorority experience. It is quite sad that some members don’t feel the same connection as those that remain in chapter, but everyone is unique and that is bound to happen. I do not judge her, nor will I ever judge her for deciding to leave. However, her portrayal of these organizations is extremely unfair, inflammatory and downright offensive.

When I transferred home to the University of Calgary from a different school, I did not know very many people. A friend of mine convinced me to go through recruitment and I am indebted to her for the rest of my life. Before joining my sorority I was very shy and quiet (I’m not saying these are bad qualities!) and I wasn’t getting much out of my university experience. I was very introverted, and when class was over for the day I would immediately go home. I can’t say that I ever enjoyed that aspect of my life.

Once I joined my sorority I found so many wonderful people that I could call my sisters, from all different walks of life. Your statement that “if you are not single, affluent and heterosexual, you are an outsider” is frankly inflammatory and there is not an ounce of truth behind it. I met sisters from different cultures and different walks of life. Some had boyfriends that are outside the Greek system. Many of them are still with those boyfriends and no one has ever judged them for it – instead sisters have welcomed these significant others with open arms. I met women from all walks of life, some affluent, and some from less affluent backgrounds, and none of it made a difference. They were my sisters, they still are, and always will be.

When my parents moved away and I needed to learn to fend for myself as an adult, my sisters were there for me. When a guy dumped me, a sister drove to my house past midnight because she refused to let me be alone that night. When I had my two car accidents and needed to go to the hospital to get checked out, my sisters joined me in the emergency room, sitting there for over 8 hours before I was able to see a doctor. It didn’t matter that they had a paper due the next day, or a midterm a few days later; they were there for me. When several relatives died in a short timespan the first people there to help me get through it were my sisters. I find it extremely offensive that you would insinuate that our sisterhood is not real, but merely that we are “strategic acquaintances”. Strategic acquaintances do not sit with you for hours on end in the hospital, or help you find medical paperwork that has been mistakenly thrown in a dumpster behind your house.

Aside from this loving aspect I gained many skills that will benefit me for the rest of my life. You don’t mention any skills that you have gained from your time in the Greek community and that’s fine. I think its important to those that are not a part of the community that end up reading this to know that we are not about “events [that] are based almost exclusively on the participation of men” and about image. Through my experiences I have become a more confident person, and more comfortable in my own skin. Through etiquette dinners I learned to hone in my social etiquette skills that will serve me well throughout my life. I learned how to dress appropriately for business and formal events (is business attire not important? What about job interviews?) I learned how to write and eloquently give speeches, something that will be crucial for my career goals.

While you may see the tips we received from our VPMR as shallow and ridiculous, I saw them as very valuable tips that I was so glad someone passed down to me. As much as we would like to believe that society doesn’t judge on how put together we are, lets not kid ourselves. The first impression one gets when they meet another is based on physical characteristics and how they are put together. I learned that in a professional setting you do need to look put together if you want to get ahead. This has been invaluable to me as clients that I deal with at work constantly mention how great it is to see a woman my age look professional at all times.

The portrayal of fraternity men, especially members of Phi Gamma Delta could not be further from the truth. They are not merely there to try and sleep with sorority women. They are our friends and our biggest supporters. I count many members of this group as my closest friends that I would do anything for. As they were there for me in my time of need, I have always been, and always will be there for them. They are not looking to hook up with sorority women and keep “sex in the family,” these are the guys that help us raise money at our charity events, bring us coffee in the morning after we’ve camped our during our philanthropy events, and are willing to stand up for us. I would like to thank the members of Phi Gamma Delta that have been outraged by this article. Thank you for standing up for what you believe in, and thank you for defending our honor. You truly are classy gentlemen.

I think it is highly inflammatory to attack the philanthropic foundations of a sorority and judge them because they choose to raise money more often than being involved in hands on community service. Philanthropy is philanthropy regardless of the methods used. As long as you are giving back to the community, and are working hard for it, the type of events you have should not matter. Your philanthropic endeavours are no more important or moral that ours. I think this is a point that people were greatly offended by. The same goes for extra-curricular activities. It is fantastic that you have found activities on campus that speak more to you than sorority life ever did. As long as you contribute to society it should not matter what platform you use, but this idea that your involvement is somehow more important than ours is simply not true. You have just chosen a different medium.

In regards to post # 26 – I’ll just briefly settle this slander argument. I haven’t used Google, but rather the knowledge from being a law student (something that my sorority involvement helped me get in to!) Just because she did not mention names does not mean it isn’t considered slander. At the beginning of the article she stated that she would refrain from identifying which group she is talking about, but then goes on to give blatant clues as to which organization it is. (The sorority’s chosen philanthropy, yearly events, and the location of their headquarters.) Identifying which sorority is very easy given that there are only two. The several untrue statements that have been made in this article can be considered slanderous because it can unjustly ruin the reputation of over 40 women. Professors see these girls wearing sorority letters and they are quickly identified. Potential employers can do the same. A strong lawyer would be able to argue this. In response to your argument that many comments are slanderous towards the writer – the Gauntlet has the right to take down comments they find offensive and slanderous, something they have not done.

Finally – and I can’t believe I’m about to say this… but I thank Andrea for posting this biased and very negative article. I say this for two reasons. One, you have reaffirmed my commitment to my sorority for the rest of my life. I will continue to defend my sisters, and the ideals our founders have envisioned until I take my last breath on this earth. Secondly, your article has caused the Greek community to stand united and respond to these negative stereotypes. You have not succeeded in trying to tear these organizations down; rather, they have become more resilient. It is resilience that has helped these organizations reach over a century in age, and resilience will carry them forward to a new century.

After reading this article, I did some soul searching to find out whether my own experience with sororities at the UofC matched some of the experiences of the writer. As a former member of the Other sorority, I strongly disagree that the group encouraged women to hang out with certain groups (fraternities) and only date within the Greek system. I dated outside of the Greek system and was never chastised for it.

We were never forced to wear certain types of clothes except on ocassions that warranted a dress code. This is nothing new for people going for interviews or to a networking event. A first impression is important and sorority life taught me how to put my best foot forward.

I\'ve taken away many things from my experiences, such as philantropy, being well-rounded, and aiming higher professionally. The leadership skills you learn are fabulous and extend beyond university. Learning what \"business casual\" means is important for buying the right clothes for work. Conducting business meetings, writing reports, and networking with peers are all skills I learned through the Greek system.

Sure there are negatives like cattiness, gossip mills, standards lectures, and judgement to some extent. However, since leaving university, I\'ve learned that this exists all around us anyway and Greek life is not any different from the outside world.

I commend the writer on her article and for offering her opinion, but I strongly feel that is only one side of the story. I don\'t believe member retention problems are only a thing that affect sororities. This happens in the business world and any other club on campus too. I work in oil and gas and people are constantly coming and going. Big whoop, that is life. The membership fees are high, but so is a gym membership and people throw away hundreds of dollars on that every year whether they use it or not. At least you gain something from a sorority and if it doesn\'t work out, you can leave. The same applies to anything else in life. I don\'t believe I bought my friends with my high fees. I believe I bought myself invaluable life skills and a greater understanding of the world. I\'m not offended by the article at all and I feel it is a great starting point to encourage a debate on this controversial system.

I\'m commenting on this piece as an alumna of the same sorority that Andrea was a member of. I joined in 2003, transferred to the University of Toronto in 2005, and was a member of a different chapter of the same sorority there.

I\'m sorry to hear that Andrea felt that her time in the sorority was so invaluable and that she left with such a negative impression of this type of organization. However I can\'t help but reiterate that -- much like membership in ANY organization (or in any relationship) -- you get out what you put in. I spent four years in the sorority and my experience was truly incredible.

First and foremost, the notion that you shouldn\'t have to \'buy\' your friends is an insult commonly levelled at Greek organizations, and it completely misses the point. You are paying dues to an organization that supports a network of women around the world. There are countless types of organizations that charge dues to their members in order to fund their operations and this business model is nothing special. In exchange, you have the opportunity to receive years of valuable experience as an officer in your chapter, you can attend countless events that connect you with other wonderful, inspirational women at all stages of their lives, you can attend conferences that support your personal development and reinforce the incredible business skills you learn while managing your chapter -- in short, the list is endless but the common theme is that you have to get involved and sign on in order to benefit.

I\'m sure that paying dues and not attending events or running for a position would lead to an underwhelming experience. But taking on responsibility and getting involved in all that Greek life has to offer will almost certainly leave you feeling well-rounded, fulfilled, connected, proud and motivated when you complete your undergraduate education.

I arrived at the University of Toronto alone, knowing nobody save for a couple of girls in my sorority\'s chapter there who I had communicated with online. I was alone in a huge city attending a huge school with no network to fall back on. The day I arrived the girls in my chapter took me to a yoga class a friend was teaching, and then spent the next week showing me around campus, helping me find all my classes, introducing me to countless people, showing me around the neighbourhood... I can\'t even begin to tell you how valuable that was to me. At a university where one can truly go their entire four years without interacting with another person (class sizes can exceed 1,000) having a community like that to fall into was not just wonderful, it was a Godsend.

Moreover, the recruitment process that is so heavily criticized in this piece is designed not to weed out potential new members based on some shallow standards surrounding appearance, income, sexual orientation, etc., but rather it is a mutual selection process to make sure that the right women end up in the right chapter so that they can have the most fulfilling experience possible. Different chapters are right for different women. I felt so fortunate to find a group of friends on campus who shared my interests. We would sit up late at night debating political theory, we would go to nightclubs on the weekends, and we would run around in black turtlenecks with nylons on our heads pranking frat houses in the middle of the night. These girls came from all different socioeconomic and racial backgrounds, and yes, some of them were homosexual. The criticism that you had to be \"single, affluent, and heterosexual\" is frankly not factual or valid.

I did date a \'frat boy\' in university, but that\'s because those were the guys I was meeting so the statistics make that probable. At no point did I feel forced or pressured to date a member of a fraternity and many women had boyfriends (or even husbands) who were not in the Greek system and they still happily participated in social activities. The bar scene is far more sexualized and aggressive than any fraternity mixer I have ever attended, and I have never seen the crude behaviours some of the commenters suggested take place at these functions. Most of the fraternity members I met were perfect gentlemen -- well-rounded, intelligent, funny guys who were great to hang out with, even though some of them were notorious pranksters.

During my university years, all of the socializing and fun I had as an AOII seemed incredibly valuable. Looking back now I am more astounded at the wonderful lifelong friendships I have built -- there are women in my sorority who I have travelled thousands of miles to visit (and vice versa), who I continue to speak to regularly, who add value to my life every single day. These are women who have gone on to do all manner of wonderful and diverse things (some are in law school or completing their MBA, some are school teachers, some are living overseas, so on and so forth). I might not have met them under different circumstances and our sorority experience is the common thread that still ties us all together. I count them as some of my closest friends in the world, I admire them deeply, and I rely on their advice in so many spheres of my life to this day.

I have seen the power that this incredible network of women has and to dismiss it as petty and superficial does it such a terrible injustice. I\'ve watched twenty women silently file into a church to support one sister at her father\'s funeral. I\'ve seen women fundraise and work tirelessly to support a sister with an ailing child. I\'ve met women who were members in the 1940s and 50s and 60s who I hold up as my role models -- well-rounded, vibrant, philanthropic, family-oriented, successful, incredible women who I would never have had the opportunity to connect with and receive advice from elsewhere. I strive to be like them -- they are manifestations of the morals and principles that AOII holds up as its gold standard. They\'ve given me a sense of direction and a sense of the type of woman I want to become.

Sure, I had to deal with my fair share of drama and conflict. If you\'re heavily involved in any (and I mean ANY) organization that\'s bound to happen, but you\'re not going to learn to manage people and conflict in your university classes, no matter how many times you read those textbooks. The skills I learned and the experience I built helped me land a great job out of university and left me with a staggering network of friends from all manner of backgrounds pursuing all manner of careers.

I\'m terribly sorry to hear that Andrea has had such a dismal experience but I assure any young woman who is considering joining Greek life that if you approach it with an open mind and have a work ethic and good morals behind you it can be one of the most fulfilling experiences of your young adult life. To make a decision not to participate based on one editorial does these great organizations a huge injustice. I\'m also happy to answer any questions that anyone might have about my experience so please feel free to email me.

In response to #28 \"Does that mean I can write an article cautioning people about joining the video game club because I don\'t agree with their activities? Because they didn\'t live up to my expectations after I joined?\"

Yes.

Can you write an editorial criticising the video game club three years after you quit? Sure.

Will it strike people as odd that you wrote pages and pages on how you dislike a college club? Probably.

I also joined the same sorority (or more appropriately women\'s fraternity) over 10 years ago at the U of C.

If you had asked me at 20, I may have written the same article. As a non-drinker and also not someone interested in frat guys, I always felt an outsider. I thought it was high school, juvenile and all the other things the author has written.

I was wrong.

I say this 10 years later and I am sure that one day the author will come to realise what I did. It wasn\'t \"high school\", I was. Did people have alcohol fuelled parties and random sex? Of course. Do lots of people not in sororities have these things too? Absolutely. Why did I expect so much more? Do they not tell you everything about drop out rates? Of course they don\'t. Please someone tell me a time when at a job interview you have been told the turnover? When is the last time your interviewer said \"well we\'re hiring for this position because the atmosphere here is so horrible people have quit\". Never happens, if you are joining an organisation, ANY organisation, it is up to YOU to ask the questions to get the answers you want, not up to them to hold your hand and tell you everything. I faced all the same disillusionment the author did. Except now I can see that the reality is the problem was me and my perspective, not theirs. I think it is actually sort of comical that members were told to wax their upper lip, I think it is petty and vain and it is ridiculous that someone would feel that was important enough to email. You are judged by people every day, there are vain people everywhere. That isnt a condemnation of the sorority, it is one, vain little person.

In spite of my anger and dissatisfaction I learned a lot about how to be a grown up, I learned a lot about how to network, how to work with adversity and how to accept the things I cannot change. Do I keep in touch with anyone? Not really. Did I form lifelong friendships? Absolutely not. Did it help me, in spite of myself to grow and be a better person in all areas of my life? Yes.

I feel so sorry for this author because it is clear that this experience damaged her in a deeper way than such shallow friendships should have. Despite her many accomplishments, it is clear that this still hurts.

On Sunday afternoon, I was in a car accident two hours after I helped to initiate 18 new wonderful members into Alpha Omicron Pi. It took literally half that time for the majority of chapter to contact me asking what they could do and how they could help. By the end of the day, it was the majority of the U of C Greek Community.

Firstly, Andrea, I\'m sorry. I\'m sorry AOII wasn\'t as amazing for you as it is to 99% of it\'s members. I\'m sorry the Greek Community wasn\'t as supportive as you\'d have liked, and that you felt the way you did about the goings-on.

Secondly, to the editors of the Gauntlet, please refrain from portraying opinion as fact. Very rarely do opinion pieces take the cover and have a three piece spread.

Thirdly, to the general school population or whomever does stumble across this article. Please, think for yourselves, this is one woman\'s account of a poor experience. And as you can see from the comments, not everyone shares her view on the community.

Lastly, to every Greek out there: Thank you. For everything you\'ve done and all the opportunities you\'ve given me. For the ways you\'ve enabled me to better myself and allowed me to help those around me. For instilling in me values I will carry with me for the rest of my life. Going Greek isn\'t for everyone, but for those who do, it\'s life changing.

As someone that previously joined a U of C Greek organization but then also left prior to graduation, I feel that I should add my experiences to this discussion.

The simple fact of the matter is that the Greek system is not for everyone, but it can still do amazing things for a lot of people.

Although I felt that two years of Greek life was enough for me and that it was time for me to move on, it\'s now a few years later and I still retain many close friendships from my active time.

In the total time that I\'ve familiarized myself with the Greek system I have seen many, many people use their respective organizations as a means of creating major self-improvement and growth. Not just growth on a professional or academic level, but on the level of happiness.

I\'ve even seen people meet their future business partners, best friends, and even husbands and wives.

And I\'m sure that Andrea has seen the exact same things, which is what makes this article so disappointing.

While I\'m sorry to hear that Andrea\'s personal experience with her particular sorority was negative, I feel that this scathing critique is biased, lacking in journalistic integrity, and even cowardly.

Personal grievances are best kept private, opposed to publicly misguiding the school\'s opinion about not just one organization, but four.

Also, does anyone else find it ironic to seemingly bash the overly-dramatic nature of the Greek system, knowing full well that such a message would invoke a dramatic response?

It\'s amazing that, as a leader at the Gauntlet, Andrea could make such salient observations about exclusivity and power in the Greek system without realizing that the identical conditions exist at the Gauntlet.

Try to write for the Entertainment section without deep obscure knowledge of every indy band, playwright, and producer that strikes the editor\'s fancy. Or try to be an opinionator or news writer without an anti-Harper attitude. And don\'t even think about wearing anything that doesn\'t look like it came to you from the Gap via Value Village even though it cost uberbux as vintage new in Kensington. You will become socially excluded from the same kinds of substance-filled parties and after parties as the Greeks hold. And then there\'s the random hookups among the Gauntlet and SU that puts regular floor-cest to shame.

As much as the Gauntleteers appear to have each others\' backs at times, try to gain a leadership position without putting in many long nights of unpaid labour or strategically hooking up.

Students should ask questions about how and why the Gauntlet\'s members more equal than other students when it comes to extensions on assignments, access to campus events, and captive audiences delivered on silver platters.

Think about why the entire campus pays an annual $300,000 tax to this group of 100 people, or a similar amount to SU elites at that other non-greek organization across the patio.

There are two non-Greek tables in Mac Hall. They both come with menus from the Den and tabs paid for by students.

Transparency and accountability for the 1%, anyone?

So, the issue is that greek life causes university students to drink, fornicate and take drugs?... My goodness I hope no non Greeks are doing that. Ksig alum

I am really looking forward to Andrea\'s next riveting articles: \"Paper or Plastic: My Easter 2006 dilemma, and why I can’t go back” and “Why I chose to leave the Ski Club: Slanderous expose? Or do I just not care for skiing anymore?”

Everyone knows the Video Game Club is all politics. If you don\'t like Nintendo, you\'re on the outs, and they don\'t have enough Atari.

Let\'s be real here, only socially awkward weirdos join frats and sororities in Canada.

Every time I see a fat or sorority kid on campus I laugh to myself and think of what pathetic people they are. Get real friends

I also chose to leave a sorority. Though I am not as bitter as the author of this article, I do agree that there is a lot presented to you during recruitment that is LARGELY inaccurate. Like every group of 20+ women, there is drama. Drama is to be expected. I have met many great people through the Greek system, and a few of them remain friends today.

However, for a system that is based on Greek principles, I found this organization to be undemocratic. Be prepared to sign away your opinions and values if they don\'t agree with the rest of the chapter. If you disagree with the chapter, you are still expected to sit down and shut up. There will be heated discussions about a ten dollar difference in budget. People will disagree about who to \"let in\" and who to deny.

Since I have left, many of the members in the Greek system say these problems are no longer typical of their chapters. Perhaps its a mad dash to save face. All I know is everything that was promised to me on paper and expressed verbally, is definitely not what I got. During my time in chapter, I felt largely unaccepted for who I was, I felt pressure to adhere to someone elses beliefs. I was lied to, and downright betrayed.

Remember ladies, \"No amount of vintage dresses gives you dignity.\"

And for those of you (if you know who I am then you know who you are) who tarnished the reputation of sororities by your desperate grabs at power, the bullying, the gossip and rumors, the strategic \"fakeness\" that you are every waking minute of every day... the jokes on you.

\"I found this organization to be undemocratic. Be prepared to sign away your opinions and values if they don\'t agree with the rest of the chapter. If you disagree with the chapter, you are still expected to sit down and shut up. \"

Isn\'t that the point of democracy? In a democracy everyone practices the idea of majority rule, and decisions made by the majority. You always have the right to a dissenting opinion in democracy, but the majority of the people still make the decisions. Just like in politics. Members of the opposition can disagree all the want, but the majority of parliament makes the final decision.

Not sure where you were going with that argument...

Democracy still allows your opinions to be discussed. You are also allowed to campaign in a democracy. Leaders must answer to their short comings and try to advocate themselves as to why they are the best candidate. Many people wanted those questions answered. But discussion was tabled by our \"superiors\" because it suddenly became \"too personal\" now that the questions are about you

44, every time you see a fat kid you laugh? Well, that\'s not very nice.

I think you meant FRAT and by the way, friends made in fraternities and sororities are as real as any other friends one can make else where.

First and foremost, this was a very well articulated article.
I am sorry to see that this has made its way to Global, hence how I discovered this article.

I too was a member of a women\'s fraternity (proper term) when I was an undergraduate student at U of C.

Unlike the majority of my \'sisters\' I did not focus my sole attention on the company of one particular men\'s fraternity, but formed friendships (which I still have a few) with those across the board, and same with the women in the other group.
How could I, after one decision, no longer be cordial to women, who had I made a differnt choice, would have been my \'sisters\'.

It was not a popular choice.

Many of the situations that are recounted in this article are things I experienced myself 20 years ago. During Rush we had to make sure we were at out best on the outside, to make that impression. However, 20 years ago, there was a huge emphasis on our GPAs and to ensure that we were successful at our studies. We had study groups and took classes with other Greeks to provide those supports.
On the social side, well I wasnt at University to find a husband or to date. I was there for an education. I went to formals, I was a fraternity sweetheart, I dated a man or two.

However, I always hated the double-standard and hypocrasy I found within the organization itself. Whilst I held myself to the standards we were informed of, and how the founders had ideals for women (which were attainable, applicable and common sense - basically be empowered and don\'t be a whore) during the day many of my sisters were the picture of properness, but at night they were the complete opposite.

I had and still have a few close male fraternity friends, who would recount the tales of the my sisters. The stories made you cringe.

We had always been told, if you\'re behaviour is not in line with what we stand for (morally - be a good girl) then we reserve the right to kick you out of the organization. This never happened. The executive members were just as ill behaved as the others.

Additionally, within the group of 40 women, there were sub-cliques. If one particular clicque was in power on the executive nothing would happen to her sisters in terms of discussion of her behaviour.

I can recall tales of my little sister (a term for a new member) being told to be careful and how it fell on deaf ears.

All in all, I wish I had left the organization before my senior year. I had formed the friendships that would last and mattered, and after I graduated and moved on to law school, I didn\'t want to still be in high school.

My daughter, when she is of age, if she decides to go forward, I will let her, but it will be at her expense and not just financially. I will inform her of my wish for her to join other groups and organizations and to avoid the Greek System all together.

I think of the money spent, and the lessons learnt. It did make me a stronger woman, and made me better able to read and see through fakeness. For that I am thankful.

Sounds like a bunch of butt-hurt \"greeks\" angry that someone called them out on buying friends

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