November 30, 2016

Small Chapters Can Have a Big Impact


When I tell people that I’m a member of Alpha Phi, they almost immediately follow it with a small laugh or smile and the question, “Oh, do you live in the house?” I know what they’re thinking, that I’m part of a huge group of women who chant on Bid Day and have gigantic parties all the time.

Setting the stereotypes of sorority life aside, many of those same people often have a hard time understanding when I tell them that there aren’t hundreds of women in my sorority, that we don’t live in a house and that we only make up a small population of our university. Despite this, I’d argue that we are one of the most close-knit and motivated groups on campus. When a potential new member accepts a bid from us, it’s our number one priority to make sure that she feels wanted and loved by her sisters, and that she knows she has an amazing reputation of leadership to uphold.

When I’m questioned about why I decided to join a sorority at a relatively small school, I always think about the things that I’ve gained from my chapter. I think about my first recruitment event my freshman year and getting inspired by the then-chapter president of Alpha Phi. I remember accepting my bid from women I’d actually gotten to know personally, and immediately posting an excited selfie on Instagram. I recall standing in front of a room filled with my sisters, delivering a speech about why I should be considered as a member of the new executive team and knowing the name of every single girl that I was talking to.

Being a part of a smaller chapter means that I have had some kind of personal relationship with every single woman that’s been a part of the chapter at the same time as me. I can list off their names and tell you who their big, grandbig, maybe even their great grandbig is. I’ve spent a lot of time with my 11 pledge class sisters and I consider them some of my closest and best friends. My family is pretty small right now and I only have one little, but I am so close with her and I don’t know what I would do without her in my life. This is what a small chapter has given me.

A small chapter also means that when one of our members is struggling, whether within or outside of the chapter, we have the ability to come together as a group to support her and give her the attention and help she needs. This is an incredible comfort that I cherish about my chapter and sisters. This was especially true when one of our recent alumna members passed away after struggling with a lifelong health condition. She was particularly close to a couple of older members and many of them had an extremely hard time coping, but as a chapter, we were able to unite and look back on good memories with her as well as donate money to a foundation that researched a cure for her condition. It was a rough time, but we pulled through, together.

The experiences and memories that I’ve gained in Alpha Phi are in part because I know everyone. I feel comfortable with all of my sisters and that if something were to happen me, good or bad, they would be there, cheering me on or standing by my side, no matter what.

The Delta Kappa chapter is small, but it’s growing. We have 60 women, but we are mighty. We’ve been through some hard times, but we’ve always made it through. The good times that we’ve had are amazing and there’s never a shortage of smiles or laughter at our meetings. I’m confident that when I graduate in one short month that I’ll still be welcomed by the chapter and that girls will know who I am, because that’s just who we are.

Ellie Brown is a collegiate member at the Delta Kappa chapter at University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse. To learn more about Ellie, click here.

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