By Maggie Boucher
“I wanted to meet new people.”
“It’s a great way to be involved.”
“My friends were doing it, and they dragged me along too.”
These are just a few of the reasons I’ve heard women give for joining a sorority at Willamette. And as my pledge class and I were sitting together in Alpha Chi Omega for the last time as “new members” this past week, explaining why we had joined, it was difficult for me to formulate one solid answer.
You can ask anyone who knows me relatively well, and I guarantee they will say I was the last person they ever expected to be in a sorority. I was the last person I ever expected to be in a sorority.
Nineteen of the 24 members of the soccer team are a part of Greek life. So, while it’s difficult to be on the team and not be influenced in some way, I still wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. But I signed up for recruitment anyway.
It isn’t easy trying to decide which sorority to join after only four days. However, even though I’m sure most people assume I chose Alpha Chi because I’m on the soccer team, I truly visited each house with an unbiased view. On Tours and Philanthropy Night, I went to Delta Gamma and Pi Beta Phi, but when I walked into Alpha Chi Omega, something was different.
It wasn’t because my teammates were there or because parts of the house are decorated by Pottery Barn. It was because I knew I belonged there. It was because I knew I wanted the opportunity to be a “Real, Strong Woman.”
Although different sororities have their own values and principles, it’s easy to put them all into one pile and say they are the same. Pi Beta Phi’s core values range from “integrity and lifelong commitment” to “philanthropic service to others and sincere friendship.” Delta Gamma is based on the principles of “personal integrity, personal responsibility, and intellectual honesty.” And Alpha Chi Omega’s five membership standards are “academic interest, personal development, financial responsibility, character, and leadership ability.”
I’m not going to deny that the three have similarities, but when I finally became a lifetime member, I was being initiated into Alpha Chi because I believe specifically in the values for which we stand.
I have the Symphony of Alpha Chi Omega hanging in my room not because I’m on the soccer team, but because every day I try “to see beauty even in the common things of life.” Every day I try “to shed the light of love and friendship round me,” and “to appreciate every little service rendered.” Every day Alpha Chi Omega’s symphony is my symphony.
People can roll their eyes and laugh. People can have whatever opinion they want about Greek life and what it means.
But until you know the frenzy of running towards a huge group of strangers who will eventually become your best friends on Bid Day, until you know how good it feels to have an entire house of women who care about you, until you know the joy of sitting by the Mill Stream eating Thai food with your sorority family, until you know the happiness of being given a four-year old carnation that your “Big Big” received on her Preference night, you will never know why I and the rest of my sisters joined the Beta Chi chapter of Alpha Chi Omega.
When it was finally my turn to share that night, there were a lot of things I could have said. I decided to keep it simple, though. I replied, “I’m here because I found a place where I belong. I found the perfect place to be a real, strong woman.”