Sorority Life

For many of us, the word sorority evokes a certain image. For instance, some may think of Elle Woods and her perky Delta Nu sisters in “Legally Blonde.” Maybe one of their profound and intellectually stimulating verbal exchanges comes to mind, like when Elle announces her plans to go to Harvard and her girlfriends squeal in excitement, “Oh my god, like on vaca?” So you’ve seen the movies, watched the reality shows, and read the best-selling books exposing the truth about sororities, right? Well, it turns out there is more to the UVM sorority scene than what stereotypes lead you to believe. With more than 2/3 of the volunteers on move-in day being Greek, it is clear that community involvement and philanthropic contributions are major aspects of sorority life. Although the number of community service activities one must participate in differs for each chapter, the Director of Greek Life, Sandy Kim, said that to be nationally recognized a chapter must complete at least four major events per year with at least 65% of their members present. With the upcoming schedule of beneficiary activities, the girls definitely meet that standard. In November, there is an all-Greek Blood Drive taking place. Kim also mentioned a possible bottle drive to raise relief money for Hurricane Katrina,in addition to an all-sorority car wash on October 8 where proceeds will go to the Children’s Miracle Network. Other events like the penny-wars will raise money for the American Cancer Society and the Mr. UVM contest will collect canned goods. Not only does sorority life offer individual betterment through community activism, but it is also a home away from home. According to the president of the Panhellenic Council, senior and Tri-Delta member Jane Trivett, sororities can help fill the void that may accompany the transition from high school to a university. Trivett believes the close-knit environment helps girls overcome a sense of vulnerability through a constant support system, “You come home to family. There is always someone to talk to, watch television with, or share a late night snack,” Trivett said. Trivett also feels that sororities can offer skills for the future. Sorority life isn’t just about hanging out. The girls build a set of values, discover who they are, and some situations force members to grow up a little. An alumni activity can leave girls feeling as if they’ve accomplished something. Like everyone else though, sisters experience their share of stress. Imagine living with seventeen or so girls. You’re thinking cat fights and hair-pulling right? Kim says that girls living in the house endure basically the same issues as students living in dorms. Trivett doesn’t mind a house full of females, “It just gives you a bigger wardrobe,” she said. Because space is limited, most girls don’t even live in the house; names are randomly pulled to determine occupancy. There are also rules just like in residential housing. Some rules are nationally enforced and others vary according to chapter, but some general rules prohibit alcohol and restrict boys from specific areas after a certain time. However, safety precautions don’t seem to be scaring away any future members. Trivett and Kim both agree that the outcome this year has been very successful. The sororities have opted for an informal recruitment session instead of the usual formal rush. Greek Week allows girls to get a sense of each sorority and then they rush the house of their choice. If a girl and a sorority are a match, she will receive a bid and by accepting it she is considered a new member. New members attend all the Greek workshops which teach them about the history of the UVM Greek community, alcoholism, anti-hazing, and more. During weekly meetings, members learn about their chapter’s history and values. After six to eight weeks, a new member is initiated and becomes a sister. Although, there seems to be a solid amount of girls going through this process, misconceptions continue to plague sororities at UVM. Trivett wants to combat these assumptions by becoming even more involved in the UVM community. According to Kim, simple things like handing out 400 hot dogs, allow students to learn about the sororities. Friday is Greek Day so look for girls wearing their pins to see the wide range of personalities. Lastly, it is a major goal to provide casual opportunities to catch a glimpse into sorority life without feeling the pressure to commit. By dining on some free food, attending a fun social event, and meeting some nice people you can discover sororities beyond the typical stereotype.