October 8, 2014

Collegiate Perspective: I Never Thought I’d Go Greek

Going into college, I thought I wouldn't join a sorority. It wasn't that I saw anything wrong with Greek Life organizations or the young women who chose to go through recruitment; I just felt it wasn't for me in the same way that I knew I would never join the volleyball team (incapable of serving over the net) or pursue a career as an astronaut (terrible night vision / scared of accidentally being left on the moon).

That’s actually a common sentiment here at Johns Hopkins, a campus where Greek Life is vibrant but moderately sized, where sororities have “meeting rooms” but not houses and where approximately 25% of our 6,000 undergraduates are involved in a social, professional, service or multicultural fraternity or sorority. In my years here, I've spoken to many women who admit that they entered college with certain negative preconceptions about what Greek Life entailed, and that only upon living on campus and interacting with women from different sororities did they change their minds.

As for me: I came around slowly. I’m grateful for the upperclassmen leaders, scholars and athletes who showed me that Greek affiliation wouldn't limit my ability to succeed but would give me new opportunities. I’m grateful for my friends who registered for formal recruitment and – though I waited until the last possible minute – encouraged me to do the same. I’m grateful for my school’s tradition of deferred recruitment, which gave me a semester to settle in and open my mind to the possibility of sorority life after years of indifference.

On the last night before registration ended, I filled out a form with my name and background information… just so that I’d have the option of going through recruitment if I felt inclined. Over my freshman year winter break, I quietly bought a white dress… just in case I might need it. On a cold morning in February, I lined up with the rest of my Rho Gamma group and prepared for a day of Ice Water parties… but I told myself that I could drop out whenever I wanted.

That moment – the one where I would drop out and never look back – never came, and over a week of clapping and singing and heels, I found myself increasingly enthusiastic about Greek Life, and especially about Alpha Phi, the place where I always felt most at home. The white dress that I bought ended up getting a lot of use that semester, at Bid Day and then later at Initiation, though by then I could barely remember a time when I didn't want to be a part of this organization that had already given me so much.

If I had to give advice to a first-year student who feels the way that I once did, I would tell her that being a part of Alpha Phi has provided a network and an ever-opening circle of people that you become close to; never closing or limiting it. I would tell her that when I’m stuck in the library late at night struggling to finish a problem set, or looking for a study group before a big exam, or even just looking for advice on good classes to choose, my sisters are always there to help. I would tell her that joining Alpha Phi was one of the best decisions I've made in college so far – and that I hope to see her during recruitment.

Alexa Curto is a collegiate member at Johns Hopkins (Zeta Omicron). Learn more about Alexa by clicking here.

No comments: