You may have a certain perception of Greek letter organizations (fraternities and sororities) and stereotypical precognitions as well. While most of them are not true, what is true is that they can have some pretty strict rules. But in typical human double-standard fashion, the sororities have the more strict rules. Whether due to the days of old where men determined how women behaved and dressed or due to modern-day additions of rules from its members, there's no question that some of these rules can be pretty crazy, though, to be fair, many of them do make sense. If you want to know some of the ways that sororities function, continue reading to find out.
Even the girls in a sorority have to handle a bit of hazing, but this doesn't always have to be stereotypical humiliating and dangerous/illegal activities. It's meant to be a sort of bonding experience for the new recruits.
By having the same awful experience together, you bond through sympathy. It can also be an enjoyable experience, not just something that makes you feel awful, but all in all, it's meant to make sure you are really committed to the group.
Pledge Events Can Be Tough Too
Even if the hazing is bad, if you get through it all it might just be worth it. Even during pledge events, you might have to do something uncomfortable. Or as Michelle found out, someone else might have to. "During one pledge event, anytime we did anything incorrectly, instead of punishing us, they’d make our bigs do push ups just so we’d feel ‘extra motivated’ to not make any mistakes," she said, speaking to Seventeen.
"But even though that experience was awful, pledging is the most fun that I never want to have again, and as brainwashing as it sounds, it made me really genuinely care about my sorority and the girls in it.” Maybe it is worth your time to try after all.
There are many sororities that celebrate "Purity Month". This takes place during the month of September and members aren't allowed to drink alcohol, attend parties, or even something as simple as going out on dates with boys.
The point is similar to the hazing process in that it allows the members time to bond and get to know one another, but it can definitely be hard to abstain from all the fun things college life can throw at you for a whole month.
There are a lot of sororities that also follow the week of silence during Fall Recruitment. This means that any existing members of a Greek letter organization cannot interact socially with any potential new recruits.
This helps to allow the new recruits a chance to think about their decision to join and reflect objectively on the matter without any external influence. This is actually a pretty nice thing as it allows anyone who's thinking about joining whether or not it's the right decision for them without feeling pressured.
No Sending Out Invitations
There's another way that members aren't allowed to interact with potential new recruits. They cannot send out any invitations to sorority events to outside members, even if they are already planning and have decided to join.
It's pretty simple, actually; those who have not yet joined have not earned their right to attend an event meant for members. Even if you have a pact with an old friend that's planning on joining you, you simply can't invite outsiders. It wouldn't be fair to the others.
Limited Social Contact For Active Members
Also, even if you have that pact with a really good friend and are positive that they are going to join, you can't go telling them things like they are definitely going to be accepted into the sorority.
This is to upkeep a certain image of the sorority in question. If you were to exploit your personal relationships during the recruitment then you would be ruining that idea of respect and mutual trust that the community at large hopes to see from it.
Social Media Restrictions
In order to keep up appearances, there are many things that you have to be aware of regarding your social media posts. Obviously, you can't post yourself doing anything that might be seen as potentially illegal, like taking shots (whether they're alcoholic or not).
The reason there are strict policies in place for social media is to make sure that the sorority doesn't get itself shut down. If they aren't following the appropriate rules, the school that they are a part of will most likely shut them down and social media is the perfect place to find evidence of these broken rules.
Anonymous Friend Request
About a third of the sororities that are at Florida Atlantic University, for example, have strict policies regarding the use of social media. Members of Sigma Kappa are required to "friend" on all forms of social media the president, executive vice president, and the anonymous user "Ida".
This anonymous user is, according to the constitution, supposed to “guide sisters through proper representation of Sigma Kappa”. This user is a member of the sorority itself and is basically someone who watches you and lets you know what you've done wrong.
Social Media Monitoring
As well as having someone act as a guide, there are some sororities that require their members to give access to their social media accounts to the higher-ups so that they can directly monitor their accounts.
Sororities like Alpha Delta Pi and Alpha Xi Delta have rules like this with the latter reportedly requiring a contract to be signed that you won't post any inappropriate photos or comments. A great effort to prevent bullying, but it also takes away privacy and, as it's not in the constitutions of any sorority, it feels unnecessary.
An Example Of Monitoring
Someone interviewed by Seventeen named Sydney mentioned something that seemed similar to Sigma Kappa: "My sorority had huge rules about not posting anything related to alcohol or drugs on social media, to the point where every social media platform had an account named after one of our founders that everyone had to follow. It was run by a couple of people appointed by the advisor and no one knew who they were, but their job was to snitch."
"One late night...my friend dared me to take a shot of ranch. I never turn down a challenge so I took it like a champ...Two days later she got called in to standards because of ‘drinking underage.’ She tried to convince them that we were actually crazy enough to do shots of ranch as a form of entertainment, but they didn’t buy it so she was put on social probation for a month."
It's no surprise that sororities are mostly funded by the members, but that also, unfortunately, means that most of the people who are able to attend and be accepted into a sorority are going to be higher class and wealthier people.
If you don't have the funds to be able to help support the sorority then you aren't going to be a very valuable member. After all, the world revolves around money and they need to find it somewhere. Without money, there wouldn't be a sorority in the first place.
No Throwing Parties
Of course, the girls at the sorority must keep up appearances and this means no throwing any parties. After all, no one wants their "sisters" to look like drunkards whose only goal at school is to get messed up at parties. They have to attend class as well.
This doesn't necessarily mean they can't attend parties, of course. Any of the frat parties that are thrown the girls are eligible to attend, but throwing them themselves is a strict no-no. They can party hard as long as no one thinks they're the reason it's going on.
No Illegal Substances
This should be fairly obvious as the point in something being illegal is that you can't do it according to the law. This is college, however, so it's expected that there are going to be times where people bring drugs or alcohol for underaged kids.
There are some people who wouldn't rat their friends out for doing it, but that doesn't mean they are allowed to have such things in the sorority itself. That is strictly prohibited, so if you want to do that you do it at your own risk.
No Alcohol Within The House
Consumption of alcohol might be allowed at certain times, but similar to how only fraternities are allowed to throw parties but sororities can't, sororities also can't have alcohol within the confines of the household.
On the one hand, this is helpful because many of the women staying at the house are going to be too young to drink anyway. But on the other hand, this is a double standard that stops women from having the same rules that the men at the fraternities can.
Obviously, if you're living in the chapter house you need to do your chores. After all, this isn't a business that runs itself and the house depends on all the people living there to make sure that it's accomodating to those who might come over.
It isn't like the typical living situation of a college dorm. If you don't do your duties then you're going to be shamed. There are many ways that the girls at a sorority assign there duties, though, and the organization of such chores helps maintain a healthy and comfortable living environment.
If you don't have the time to spend working in your sorority's community then what is the point in joining at all? As such, there are requirements for all of the members to commit a certain amount of time to their chapter.
You'll have to participate in things like charity events and philanthropic initiatives which can both be nice and exciting. Not to mention that the more time you put into it the higher up in the ranks you'll rise and you might find yourself in a position of power one day.
Service Hour Requirements
A sorority isn't just fun and games and social events. It really exists to provide service for charitable causes and to do good for the community that they are a part of. Therefore, you need to have a certain amount of participation hours.
This is another way that the sorority helps to strengthen the bond between the sisters of the sorority. It also makes you feel good for being able to give back to the community and those who need the help as well as being abe to put those hours down on your CV.
If you think you can get away with blowing off your academics to do things within your sorority, you're dead wrong. There is a minimum GPA requirement that all members must keep and that is a minimum of a 2.5 GPA.
Sure, it's not much, but that leaves everyone room to actually, at the very least, pass their classes. Getting D's is not going to leave a good image on the sorority as it shows that they prioritize the social aspects rather than the academics that the school allowing the sorority's existence provides.
Stay Healthy And Exercise
While it's hard to argue the importance of eating healthy and exercising, some sororities, like Alpha Chi Omega, make this a sort of requirement. "Being sick or feeling gross during recruitment sucks," said the members in an email leaked to Jezebel.
"Start eating healthy today and you'll feel so much better by the time polish week and recruitment starts. Stay away from fried and super sugary foods. Your face will seriously brighten up. Also, exercise. Start now and you'll have way more energy and endurance for the long hours of recruitment."
One of the perks of being a member is that you are required to attend the formal at the end of the Spring semester. Although attendance is mandatory, this is actually a nice break from all of the duties you have as a student and a member of the sorority.
Customarily, the boys at one of the local fraternities will ask the girls out to their formal events, but when it comes time for the sorority to host one the women tend to ask their male counterparts out to the dance.
Greek Alphabet Knowledge Is A Must
This is arguably one of the most important parts of being in a sorority as well as the most academic. Understanding the language and letters and their meaning from the place that they come from is just as important as learning about your own culture.
It is now your own culture, after all. There's also a bunch of sororities whose top-secret doctrines date back to Victorian times and are encrypted in Greek. The only way to actually read and understand them is by having an understanding of the language.
The Use Of Spanx
Not every rule that's enforced is based on actual rules and customs of the long-standing sorority. Many of the things that women may face upon joining are superficial and pretty much useless other than to promote a certain image.
One of those things is the use of Spanx. There are many sororities that will insist on the importance of removing any awkward bumps that may be caused by your body shape or the clothes you wear.
Natural Hairstyles Only
The shape of your body isn't the only thing that matters. Have you ever considered the way your hair looks naturally to be too plain? Maybe you want to change it up a bit for the sake of your self-esteem or general outfit. No, says the members of Alpha Chi Omega. They say, "For recruitment, your hair has to be curly or straight. No waves…"
"Note: if you have straight hair and you want to wear it curly, don't. Your hair needs to be able to hold for 15 hr days and hairspray crunchy or limp hair is not acceptable. Also, get some heat protectant and shine spray. Damaged, frizzy hair is not going to attract PNMs….We don't want to look "emo" or like we're actually trying to flirt with PNMs by touching our hair all the time.
No Roots In Your Hair
There are also rules enforced to make sure that you dye your hair properly. If you do dye your hair then you have to keep your roots in check. Any unsightly roots may make some potential new recruits wary of joining somehow.
Therefore, you have to maintain them before Rush or during any important weeks or months to the sorority and its processes. After all, you don't want to ruin the opportunity to recruit more people into the toxic environments some sororities uphold.
No Colored Hair
Similar to the "no roots" thing, you also can't have any unnatural-looking hair colors. You can obviously dye your hair and make it any color that would be deemed as "natural" but even that comes with some of its own rules.
In an email from members of the Alpha Chi Omega USC Chapter that was leaked to Jezebel, they say, "If you're thinking about going from blonde to black or vice versa, do so after recruitment. You won't know for sure what it will look like, and if you hate it/your hairstylist does a bad job, that won't fly".
Must Have Neat Eyebrows
In that same email, they also write this about having your eyebrows done: "Bad eyebrows will make you look less beautiful than you actually are!" That part about how beautiful you really are would be inspiring if not for the overall body-negative connotation.
Many of the rules used by these crazier sororities are meant to make sure that all of its members seem capable of taking care of themselves. But things like this just make people feel like all sororities are just overly superficial and a waste of time.
Evaluations Based On Superficial Traits
Speaking of superficiality, there are some sororities that actually use these beauty ideals to judge whether or not they should recruit a certain member. Seventeen asked some girls about their sorority's crazy habits and a girl named Julie had this to say:
"During rush, we had to fill out green, red, and white comment cards [to evaluate potential new members] and circle superficial things like wearing makeup, nails polished, acne, skinny, fat, tall, short, polished… I thought it was absurd. Needless to say I ended up deactivating."
It Doesn't Matter How Much It Hurts
She's not the only one who had to deal with this. Someone named Alexis also said, "Going through recruitment and getting a bid was fine, but recruitment as an active was one of the worst experiences of my life. It was extremely superficial—we had to vote on girls based on appearance."
It was incredibly heartbreaking to watch girls that I considered my friends, judge other girls based on their looks, size, etc. The upperclassmen screamed at us day and night. At one point, we were literally told to "cut the sh*t with the bleeding hearts and start giving ugly girls zeros." It seems they don't care how bad you feel about it.
And It All Might Just Be For Nothing
Even if you do end up doing this kind of preliminary recruitment process, it may not end up making a difference. As Kristiana, another responder to Seventeen, found out, you may just be judging people unfairly for no reason.
"The whole rush process is so fake and staged, at least at my university. It made me so mad when I found out. Sorority board members picked the girls, so rush has no real meaning," said Kristiana.
Studying The Sorority History And Its Members
Another girl named Mandy told Seventeen this story: "I remember one time, my pledge class had to sit in a cramped basement together as the older girls in our house fired off questions about themselves and our sorority. If we got an answer wrong, we had to wear a bucket on our heads.”
It's one thing to learn about the history of the sorority and its members, but it's another thing entirely to force them to learn about you as well and humiliate them for not knowing random facts about yourself or the sorority's history.
But that's not even the worst of it. Jessica talked about her eye-opening experience within her own sorority: "All of pledging was a crazy nightmare, but during one event, we were pulled in blindfolded one by one to a private room and asked questions about our other pledge sisters."
"We were told that only our pledge mom and big were in the room, but then we would stay there and realize that the next pledge was being brought in. I had to listen to one of my pledge sisters talk about how she didn’t like me and how none of the pledge class felt close to me, and it was genuinely the most psychologically shocking experiences."
Back to those crazy Alpha Chi Omega USC Chapter higher-ups, they have a long list of makeup requirements: "You need to have foundation, concealer, something pinky/neutral for the lips (stain, gloss, etc), BLOT POWDER/OIL BLOTTERS, eyeliner (BLACK or BROWN only), mascara, neutral eyeshadows, bronzer, and (optional but recommended) blush."
She goes on to say that, "If you are not wearing the required makeup, I will stop you and apply it myself. I don't care if you're late for class. I don't care if you're a sophomore or a super senior. I will stop you." That's a bit dramatic when school is just as (well, more) important as the sorority itself. Especially considering looks should not be what makes people join or avoid a sorority.
Profile Pictures Must Be Appropriate
One of the last things that they mention is that any of your profile pictures need to be appropriate. Most people already have "appropriate" profile pictures for their social media, but this one goes on to be a bit more strict.
They say that if you have anything that makes you look like you're not sober or you're making ugly faces to change it to be more Alpha Chi representative. Anything else may "appear sloppy or weird to outsiders".
Contacts Are Preferred
On the bright side, they do have one rule that is pretty optional, compared to the rest. That is to say that if you can do it, then do it, but if it makes you uncomfortable then you obviously don't have to.
That rule is that you should wear contacts rather than your glasses. They want people to be able to properly see your eyes as best as they can (as if glasses were really that distracting).
Dress Codes At Events
It may seem obvious that there would be a dress code at events, but they are strictly enforced as rules. Not only do you have to show up to the events, but you have to make sure that you are dressed for the ocasion.
Sigma Chi at FAU requires that no one wears miniskirts or khakis. And if you don't show up in the right clothing then you will be marked down with an unexcused absence for the event in question.
Even Certain Colors Are Banned
Not only are there dress codes for events, but there are, surprisingly (or maybe not), also strict codes for the color of the dress that you wear. Just ask those at the FAU chapter of Sigma Kappa.
They aren't allowed to wear "winter white" or off-white. The former makes a little sense as some of those whites can look a little dirty, but off-white? MAybe it's a similar situation, but we think it's a bit too strict.
No Cork Shoes And "Bubble Bath" Nails
Seventeen asked a bunch of girls to relay their experiences with their sorority. A girl named Ally mentioned the strict dress code: "For the door song during recruitment, we’re ranked in order of how pretty we are so girls want to rush us. We also have to buy Lululemon tennis skirts and white Nike tennis shoes for rush."
"We have dress checks before rush where they check every outfit we plan on wearing for those two weeks and make us wear them in front of all of exec. Also, we can’t have shoes with any cork in them whatsoever and must have the color “Bubble Bath” on our fingernails."
Rationale Behind These Traditions
Dr. Jane Caputi, who is a professor at FAU, teaching for their women, gender, and sexuality studies department states that these traditions are the remains of a strong patriarchy. The way they dressed was meant to symbolize such virtues as chastity and purity.
The Sigma Kappa constitution notes that "dress for formal meetings should be appropriate as to show respect for the ideals upon which Sigma Kappa was founded," but this can seem rather outdated when they weren't founded on feminist values.
Traditions Are Sacred
But even if you think it's strict, you have to remember that all of these things have a purpose. Many of these sororities are honoring traditions that have been around since the 19th century. That's a long time.
When honoring time-bound traditions, it can be pretty hard to change them. They're pretty much set in stone at that point. Maybe some of the most outdated things can be changed if they seem a bit discriminatory, but good luck changing the rest.
Not Every Tradition Is About Clothing
There are, however, many traditions that are honored that have nothing to do with dress codes. As a matter of fact, many sororities aren't the most concerned with dress codes at all (other than the obvious formal events that generally require it).
An FAU freshman, Holly Browder, talks about their own traditions at Alpha Xi Delta: "We have a ritual book, and it’s a book that was created a long time ago, and we’re just continuing the tradition. It’s like a bond that we have that only Alpha Xi Delta has". This sounds a lot more honorable than some patriarchal nonsense.