Many college women dream of putting those Greek letters on their chest. Whether they’re pink, red, blue with white or a touch of gold, becoming a member of a sorority can be a life-long dream for some and a decision made in school for others. Still, the decision to join requires careful thought, preparation and determination. One has to consider their grade point average, list community service efforts, gather letters of recommendation and even invest nearly thousands of dollars in membership fees.

But, what happens when you’ve spent an entire semester learning the ins and outs of a sorority, only to be disappointed with your decision?

Dara*, 23, decided to join a Divine Nine sorority during her junior year of college. “Looking at the members on campus, they looked so close,” she recalled. “I really felt like they ran the yard because they were all notable women on campus and were all super involved.”

Still, after three years of being in the sorority, Dara says, “I will never give any more money to the organization in my life.” Her reason wasn’t because of sorority hazing, which usually gets blamed for disenchanted sorority members. Instead, she felt the sorority didn’t stand up to its sisterly illusions.

“There was always a disconnect,” said Dara. “When we first crossed, my prophytes didn’t invite us to too many places. At that time, they were burnt out. They had been members for a couple of years.”

Members of sororities can often be overwhelmed with balancing their old friends and obligations with their new Greek responsibilities. From brainstorming program ideas and community service efforts to improve the campus or the community, members are also expected to prepare for step shows, throw parties, attend parties, organize fundraising efforts as well as do homework if they’re still an undergraduate or fulfill needs at work if they’re alumni members.

Dara also said she didn’t expect women she called her sorors, or sisters, to be so catty. She recalled one incident when she realized one of the older members didn’t want her to be part of the chapter at all. “After a program, I overheard her say, ‘Why did you pick these girls? We don’t have fat girls in our chapter.’”

Dara says the incident still crushes her to this day. “It doesn’t help to have a sister put you down.”

Patrice*, 21, felt like her entire undergraduate experience was ruined after she joined a sorority, especially after she found herself in a physical altercation with a brother fraternity member.

After a party on campus, Patrice said one of her bruhs attacked her after the two exchanged playful insults…or so she thought. “He hit me in face,” she recalled angrily. “I was so hurt. I was very close to people in the fraternity…but they turned their back on me.”

Patrice became depressed that semester because of the incident, which went unreported due to pressure from her own chapter. “I went through so much drama and so much negativity that I felt like the benefits that I got from the organization, didn’t outweigh the bad,” she said. “So many hurtful things were happening with people I called ‘my sister.’”

Joining a sorority, especially in the National Pan Hellenic Council, is a life-changing experience. Not only is it a lifetime commitment, but for many women it’s an instant connection to other ambitious and smart black women who care about their communities.

Still, it does come with its challenges. As members of sororities, there should never be a time where irresponsibility or group-think trump our sisterhood. And although, in sororities, the emphasis is on the sisterhood, the chapter and the line, we still need to pay individual attention to each member. Let’s not let the love for our organizations make us afraid to think critically about them. If anyone is going to change them, it’s us.

Joining a sorority, for me, wasn’t everything I expected either. Still, I’ve learned to turn its challenges into teaching moments and its joys into memories.

*Names have been changed

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  • Toya

    Being part of BGLO is what you make of it. If you seek you shall find. If you use it for networking you will get that. If you use it for men you will get that. If you use it for friends you will get that. Its for you to discern the best of each situation. I’ve been in my Sorority for 4 years. Through these years I have met some great people and I have met others. Everybody don’t get along and everybody is not your friend. I am confused on why people feel that letters make everything perfect. There are many organizations that are not Greek that have the same situations including churches, professional groups etc. When a group of people come together who feel they have they best interest of the cause at hand plus their own personal way of dealing with things. People are gonna bump heads and it may not be all good.

    Also I am confused on how you cant be Christian and Greek. We have rituals but we do not worship anything nor anybody. We do not force anyone to compomise there faith or their personal beliefs. But I can only speak for my chapter of my sorority.

    You get out what you put in. Just like with family there is good and bad.

  • Toya

    Also I think there is some stuff missing from this story to illustrate “the Sorority Set Up”. She only speaks about the simple stuff of Sorority life. Cattyness and prophytes talking crazy. Its hard to believe that no one in the sorority liked her and she had no friends from her line or prophytes. Someone had to have a liking for her or she wouldn’t have been picked unless she was thrown on the line.

    I’m sorry this story seems pieced together. People aren’t just alienated for no reason.

    • LW

      But of course. You didn’t expect actual transparency did you? Not when its so much easier to play the innocent victim and put ALL the blame on everyone and everything else.

  • indigo.m

    I was roommate with two women to join sororities while I was in college. One of them, a member of Zeta Phi Beta – was burnt by hot wax while she was on line. The second one, joining Delta – had to carry bricks in hair back pack. This same girl later was arrested because she kicked a girl in her pelvis bone while she was hazing. She hazed her because she was hazed.

    Now, my grandmother is an AKA. She loves the organization, and it has done a lot for her. She has made many friends, she does community services, she organizes, she is very involved in the community.

    I believe that the main problem with those organizations is that think it is okay to bully. I think they find that people should not talk about them if they are not in the organization. They think they are above criticism. and lately and most importantly, my main issue with the organization is as a black woman,

    I am not GREEK.
    I am AFRICAN.

    • Jay Halley

      Agreed.

      @ NaSchelle: You doth simplify too much. LOL! Obviously, BGLOs are much more than just an extracurricular activity they are an institutionalized social club that have continuity with in the community often reproducing themselves in often repulsive ways. While there may be perceived slight benefits to membership in these organizations, we can ignore the divisiveness and elitism they create not only on college campuses but in our community. Unlike the Europeans you copied these organizations from, you Negroes continue to do this shit way into your old age. LMFAO! We have assigned great meaning and placed a significant amount of power in these organizations. The undisputable fact remains that you will NOT catch any other group of people calling themselves an African lettered organization, yet you PROUDLY call yourself Greek? Or BGLO, what a crock of bull. Black folks are insane! Why would you even want to preserve this when Africa (Ancient Kemet, Timbuktu, Mali, a whole list of African empires) surpassed the Greeks and Europeans in general in cultural contributions to civilization? Come on now, let’s keep it 100. Instead of trying to justify and banter about it, call a Spade a Spade. All historical roads lead to Africa, why are African people in America calling themselves Greek and getting offended when people call your ass out on it. Upgrade your thinking! People all over the fucking free world laugh at our dumb, buffoonery, coonery asses. No wonder we are where we are socially, physically, economically, culturally, and academically. We will never get up as long as we keep on lying to ourselves. Light a fire to the paraphernalia people. Black Greek Lettered, that shit is oxymoronic.

    • L-CC

      It’s not surprising that we all can share a bad story. The way that we treat each other simply for misconstrued affiliation is sad.

  • Jay

    @ NaSchelle: You doth simplify too much. LOL! Obviously, BGLOs are much more than just an extracurricular activity they are an institutionalized social club that have continuity with in the community often reproducing themselves in repulsive ways. While there may be perceived slight benefits to membership in these organizations, we can ignore the divisiveness and elitism they create not only on college campuses but in our community. Unlike the Europeans you copied these organizations from, you negroes continue to participate in these orgs. way into your old age. LMAO! We have assigned great meaning and placed a significant amount of power in these organizations. The undisputable fact remains that you will NOT catch any other group of people calling themselves an African lettered organization, yet you PROUDLY call yourself Greek? Or BGLO, what a crock of bull. Black folks are insane! Why would you even want to preserve this when Africa (Ancient Kemet, Timbuktu, Mali, a whole list of African empires) surpassed the Greeks and Europeans in general in cultural contributions to civilization? Come on now, let’s keep it 100. Instead of trying to justify and banter about it, call a Spade a Spade. All historical roads lead to Africa, why are African people in America calling themselves Greek and getting offended when people call you out on it. Upgrade your thinking! People all over the free world laugh at our dumbness, buffoonery, and coonery. No wonder we are where we are socially, physically, economically, culturally, and academically. We will never get up as long as we keep on lying to ourselves. Light a fire to the paraphernalia people. Black Greek Lettered, that is oxymoronic.