The word “sorority” carries many meanings, stereotypes and stigmas — some of which are true, while others are incredibly false. The media, especially the movie industry, portray sorority women as dimwitted party-girls and, worst of all, as women who reverse the work feminists have accomplished.
It has been my experience that all of these ideas are false. I was skeptical before I rushed in fall 2012 as a freshman. I thought that what the media spoon-fed me about these women was true and that I was better than them. After joining, I was quickly proved wrong. It has been my experience that women in Greek organizations hold strong feminist values that make them strong leaders on campus and eventually in the workforce.
This experience, though slightly different, is shared by many of my Greek sisters from the other three sororities.
“Every woman in some way is fighting the stereotype that they can’t be leaders and that they can’t do anything on campus,” said Nicole Cuadras, junior communications major and Associated Students of University of La Verne vice president. “We have so many different leadership positions within a sorority. If you’re joining a sorority, even if you don’t hold a position within that sorority, you’re at least throwing events that, without feminism, we wouldn’t be able to say we’re doing.”
Statistically speaking, a majority of leadership positions on campus, like those in ASULV, Campus Activities Board and other clubs, are held by Greek women and men.
Cuadras valued support from sorority women during her time as a member of ASULV.
“If I didn’t have women backing me up who were my own sisters and other Greek sisters, I don’t know how I would’ve been able to handle the situations on my own,” Cuadras, a sorority member, said. “It’s really hard to be a leader in a very male driven organization, but because of my sorority I am where I am now.”
Within my own sorority, I have held the scholarship chair position and am finishing my term as vice president. Outside of my sorority, I have been vice president for Renew Christian Club, had an internship at Darling Magazine and am currently an editor for the Campus Times. Without my sisters’ encouragement and the tenets my sorority was founded on, I would not have pursued any of these opportunities.
Each organization has its own creed, mission and vision statements, and values. Every day we are expected to live up to those values set out by our founding mothers.
“I take the mission and vision statement (of my sorority) and hold it really dear to my heart,” senior biology major and sorority member Marina Youngblood said. “One of the tenets talks about being a powerful woman and owning your gender and sexuality.”
Each sorority woman holds a specific part of the values dear, and like them I favor my sorority’s mission statement: “To inspire the personal development of each sister and to perpetuate the advancement of womanhood.”
I do my best to live my life according to this mission statement, and it baffles me when I encounter unaffiliated women who say we reverse the advancement of womanhood.
“I can’t think of any bad blood between any of the sororities,” senior business administration major and sorority member Nicole Miller said. “We always get together for things. I think it’s like an unspoken bond between the women that we are all like, ‘Yeah we’re going to fight for our rights together.’”
In many ways, the women in Greek life at ULV have set themselves apart and do their best to support each other’s leadership pursuits and philanthropies. Unfortunately, sororities at other campuses have tainted our reputations. We have had to prove ourselves to be women of substance, character and influence, unlike sororities who show little diversity within their sisterhood and blow glitter in their recruitment video. This behavior stigmas amongst unaffiliated people.
“The bio department frowns upon sororities and fraternities,” Youngblood said. “They think it’s a waste of time and money and that people who are a part of it feel like they are superior. It’s actually frowned upon to wear your letters in the department. But I’m the one sitting in the front row, I’m the one asking questions, I’m the one showing up to class. I’m trying to change that stigma.”
I have never felt more supported by a group of women than I have within my sorority. I played sports my entire life, and it took me until college to feel like I have a group of women cheering me on. We share the vision of being “powerful women fostering uncompromising principle, igniting positive change and embracing individuality.”
This is why women in sororities are feminists: we gather together to support our philanthropies, encourage each other and discuss what it means to be a woman.