Greek Life should break its inner boundaries

I began my first semester at Allegheny in the fall of 2010 and found so many of the women on campus to be extra-friendly and welcoming. I was pleasantly surprised each time one of them complimented my outfit, helped me with my homework, or simply waved to me on campus. As a freshman, I was terrified that I would not make any friends, so I was excited that so many women, especially upperclassmen, were so friendly towards me.

Many of these women had encouraged me to go through formal recruitment, and so, I found myself trekking up the long flights of stairs to the famed fourth floor on the first night of recruitment. The first night went by in a whirlwind of shaking hands, smiling faces and stuffy rooms, but I do remember seeing every single woman who had complimented my outfit or helped me with my homework in one of the suites. They approached me with the biggest smile and introduced me to their sisters who were just as enthusiastic when they greeted me.

As recruitment continued, I found women that shared similar interests with me. In one memorable conversation, I found one woman who shared my love for swimming, but, in all honesty, I admitted that I still didn’t know where the pool was on campus. She immediately said that she would show me where it was and insisted that we start swimming together. I continued to meet women that shared my interests, not just in athletics, but in many other areas as well. I was able to talk to them about my favorite movies, books, and even some of my dreams for the future. At the end of recruitment, I called my mom and said, “I’m so excited. No matter what happens, I’ve made so many new friends.”
Then I experienced after-recruitment fallout.

I must have missed the giant mushroom cloud on bid day that showered everyone with radioactive unfriendliness. I hoped the half-life was short. Suddenly, certain women no longer said hi to me when they passed me on campus. From many of the other women I met, I experienced, the classic: eye-contact-quick-look-down-maybe-she-didn’t-see behavior, which was mildly uncomfortable. Most disappointing of all, my swim buddy bailed on me. She did continue to say hello, but she never mentioned our swim plans. Soon I realized that all of these women had one thing in common: I did not join their sorority.

Not everyone was unfriendly towards me. In fact, the majority of women continued to be very approachable. But because just enough women gave me the cold shoulder, I began to think, at one point, these women wanted to call me their sister, but now they can’t even say hi to me. I was astounded by the hypocrisy. Were these women not greeting me just because I was not in their sorority?

Every year at bid day bash, the lines are made clear. Although all of the sororities are together in one room, it is clear that very few women step outside of the boundaries of their letters. Because each sorority has matching shirts, it is easy to observe that the vast majority of women remain with their fellow sisters throughout the night. Several reasons may exist for these visible “borders” as well as the sudden coldness from certain women; however, by joining these organizations we do tend to shut people out, even if we don’t mean to.

No organization is going to be perfect, but we can still try to make it the best it can be. Sometimes all you need is a friendly smile.