Ask Natalie: Is joining a sorority for me?

“Dear Natalie,

I'm starting my first year and I'm a little nervous about making friends. I was thinking about joining a sorority, but I'm not 100 per cent about it. It's pretty expensive and to be honest, I'm not sure it's for me. Do you have any ideas about the Greek system at UBC or should I just stay away?”

Sororities and the Greek System seem to really go one of two ways — either it’s for you or it’s really not. I have friends who are extremely involved in UBC Sororities and I have friends who wouldn’t touch the Greek System with a 10 foot pole.

Full disclaimer: I went through formal recruitment last fall — also known as “rush” — and was a “new member” of a sorority for about a month before I dropped out of the Greek system. I was never a full member and while I did discontinue with the Greek system, I hold nothing but respect for the particular sorority I was in. My experiences within the Greek system might be completely different than anyone else’s.

The easiest way to find out if it’s for you is to go through recruitment. If you have even a little interest in joining, especially if you're in first year, it's worth it. Sure, it was a strange week filled with hours of small talk, smiling until my face hurt and women who clearly needed a break asking about my major about a hundred times, but it gives you a pretty solid idea of what it might be like for you. And no one really cares who goes through recruitment — you won't be doing yourself a favour by deciding against going through recruitment based on what you think other people will think of you.

If you go through and find it's not for you (just like I did), then you can leave. Bid day is not a life sentence. The Greek system is a great place to find friends, especially if you're a commuter or transfer student. UBC Sororities President Tovi Sanhedrai said a common reason to join a sorority was “to find a home away from home. Not only are you joining one sorority on campus, but you are joining all eight and UBC Sororities as a whole.” With about 800 active members (not including the fraternities that are a quick walk away), you are bound to make friends.

There are stereotypes about sororities, but there are stereotypes about everything. There's the chance for an incredibly busy social life if you want it, but you'll still be held to a higher academic standard. “Sorority women have some of the highest GPAs on campus,” said Sanhedrai. “Each sorority highly values philanthropy, collaboration and development.”

If you join a sorority, you will have the opportunity to have an incredibly enriching social life. With socials, formals, exchanges and philanthropic events, sororities have a lot to offer. On the other hand, it’s not the only way to make friends. I think one of the main reasons that I didn't feel a strong connection with the sorority I was in was because I already had a support system and a strong group of friends. You'll definitely be more engaged as a first-year, compared to me who was a third-year student already fairly active on campus. You’ll make friends even if you don’t join a sorority, so don’t worry about that.

If you want to join, great — but don’t expect it to be a flawless experience. Everything I've said has been pretty pro-Greek, but there were a lot of things that I wasn’t completely on board with. I have friends who have been in their sorority for years and they still have issues with it from time to time. The dues are expensive, the time commitment is fairly demanding, there's drama and cliques like everywhere else, and the most disappointing thing I found was that there was an underlying need to improve “frat relations” at all times. Sure, different sororities will care different amounts about the frats and the sorority I was in was pretty good about it. But for an organization that's supposed to be for women and by women, there were a lot of guys involved. I suppose that's just part of the social aspect of it.

Just go through — make your own judgments and make your own opinions. If you love it, awesome. If you don’t, what did you really lose?

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