Patel: Recruitment reminds us what it means to be a ‘sorority girl’


Sorority chants, chatter and loud singing characterize the start of Winter Quarter at Northwestern. Students see girls wearing matching T-shirts while standing outside in the cold, counting down until they can go inside. It’s that time of year again: sorority recruitment!

From an outside standpoint, it may seem ridiculous that every house has a different song that they sing as loudly as physically possible in order to make people want to join their chapter. It may seem weird that girls are standing outside in the freezing cold and have a specific schedule to follow while visiting every house, trying to get a feel for each one. It’s hard to understand why anyone would want to spend 32 hours over five days together for extended periods of time, making sure to follow an extensive set of unspoken rules.

Wondering what the point is? Think about this: How would you go about sorting 600 girls into 12 houses over the course of five days? Interviews? Applications? The Hogwarts sorting hat? However ridiculous recruitment may seem to outsiders, it is an organized way for girls to get to know one another and figure out the chapter into which they fit best.

Recruitment is the doorway to Greek life. But why would you want to join in the first place? What does it mean to be in a sorority?

Joining a sorority isn’t a joke. There are meetings. There are seemingly billions of girls, so many that you don’t think you’re ever going to be able to keep their names straight. There is an executive board, a financial adviser, a house mom, a parent’s club, an alumnae database — you name it. Immediately after you join, you may wonder what you’re getting yourself into.

Well, what are you getting yourself into?

You’re getting yourself into a lifelong sisterhood full of acceptance, opportunities and unconditional support. Being part of a sorority is about those impromptu meetings you have at 1 a.m. in the bathroom planning an upcoming philanthropy event. It’s about those late-night conversations when your sister stays up with you for no good reason while you finish crafting things for your little. It’s about arguing with your sister about whether you can use part of her budget to host an alumnae event, knowing that after the argument you’ll still be best friends and will have planned something amazing together. It’s about going to countless meetings but then leaving those meetings remembering the sight of 100 girls who love you for who you are. It’s about graduating and knowing that you have made a difference as part of your chapter.

What’s the difference between being in a sorority and being part of any other organization? Both give you the opportunity to meet people you may not have met otherwise, both have meetings and both have leadership positions you can take. The difference is the sense of identity that joining a sorority gives you, the home it gives you and the desire it fosters in you to be a better person, not just for yourself but also for the thousands of other women who wear your letters proudly. It’s about the unconditional acceptance you find when you join, because everyone who just recruited you wants you there and values you for who you are.

When you’re going through recruitment, you may find yourself wondering whether it’s worth it. The days may seem endless, and you may have a hard time keeping all the names and Greek letters straight. But trust me when I say that even though the end of recruitment feels like the end of a long and chaotic week, it’s only the beginning. I can’t explain the intangible reasons why you will treasure your chapter for the rest of your life. You’ll just have to see for yourself.

Meera Patel is a McCormick junior. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you want to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].