Sorority life provides community and support


Part of the sorority quad on South Campus. (Julianna Nunez/The Daily Northwestern)

Jenna Zitaner, Reporter

“I never would have thought of myself as a sorority girl, but Greek life at Northwestern is just so different from other schools.” – It’s a sentiment that I’ve heard, and you (if you choose to participate in sorority recruitment), will hear a whole lot as a freshman, and even as a prospective student at NU. It’s also one that I am going to repeat now – my apologies for being trite.

Since NU, by its very nature, attracts a different student body than stereotypically Greek schools, its Greek community is inherently different from other schools. When I was an incoming freshman last year, I read a similar comparison piece on Greek life in The Daily orientation issue – I found a picture painted by one student of Greek life appealing, but it was the other student’s article that really struck me. Harping on the same point, her parting argument was that she did not want to be a part of a system that had something wrong with it to begin with, whose strength was that it deviated from the norm.

Now, I obviously chose to join a sorority, and my sorority has proven to be one of the most positive and enriching components of my NU career thus far. I do not want to smooth over the fact that Greek life certainly carries a stigma nationally –  I’m from New York, and it’s a view I held for a while as well. However, what I’ve found in my own experience and from speaking to friends at other universities is that there really is no norm, whether it is Greek life as a whole or an individual chapter. What I want to impart on all of you is that at a university with 8,000 undergraduates, everyone’s experience is different. For those who choose to partake in Greek life, there is often a big range of involvement, just as people choose to get involved in different parts of the Greek system. Greek life offers an enormous variety of philanthropy and service opportunities, leadership experience (whether it’s within your chapter or on a council level), opportunities for friendship and scholarship, and yes, plenty of social opportunities. What you choose to get out of your four years (or fewer, as many people join after freshman year) in a fraternity or a sorority is entirely up to you.

In all honesty, by the end of Welcome Week I knew I would join a sorority. I lived in a dorm with a lot of theater majors who were all auditioning for a capella groups. Beyond my sad lack of musical talent, I envied my friends as they found themselves accepted to these close-knit musical families. College activities, whether they are dance teams, pre-orientation trips or student publications, become communities within a community. These families will provide you with a special group of friendships and traditions that will bring a sense of inclusion and closeness to your time at NU. You will likely have more than one family – that’s the beauty of college life. You have your friends from your dorm, your classes, your team, your whatever – and maybe your fraternity or sorority as well. That desire for a really strong community was what made Greek life appealing to me.

What I’ve found in my two quarters of Greek life was more than a community. What’s made my sorority something I’ve come to love so much has been the network it’s become for me. Chapters are pretty big, and you don’t become best friends with everyone. I’ve found some great friends, some best friends and some much-loved acquaintances. What I’ve valued most is that my friendships are with people from every year. I’ve made great friends who will be sophomores with me this year, but also rising juniors and seniors. They’ve enriched my life with advice, friendship and fun times. I would have never discovered and auditioned for my dance team had it not been for a girl in my sorority who is one of the captains of that team. When I declared my second major in international studies, I got guidance on the program from a rising senior who is also a double major in journalism and IS. I have people who love yoga as much as I do – whatever the event I want to go to on campus, whatever concert or restaurant in Chicago I’m interested in, I can always find someone who’s free and wants to go. I nearly always find a study partner in whatever class I walk into. These friendships are real and natural. When you join a sorority you aren’t brought into a group that you’re automatically supposed to be friends with; rather, you’re brought into a community with some great people and a lot of opportunity. What you choose to make of that is entirely up to you. Having taken the plunge, I can say it’s been one of the best parts of NU so far. It may be for you as well.