I never was going to join a sorority.
Growing up, I'd learned to look down upon sorority girls.
I was a nerd, and both intimidated by and condescending of girls who were more feminine than me.
As a freshman, I was of the opinion that Greek life was a way to buy friends.
I compensated for my uncomfortableness at college parties by frowning upon those who enjoyed drinking and other vices on the weekends.
Sophomore year, I’d gotten to know girls from my school who were in sororities more.
My college was small, and it was hard to not know people from all different groups.
I got to know some older students and recognized that some of the girls I most admired were a part of a sorority.
I saw the bond they had and the way Greek life created a family at college and wanted to be a part of it.
Spring of that school year I went through recruitment week and decided that I truly wanted to find a place at one of the sororities at my school.
Unfortunately, after a busy week of events and meeting so many great people, I didn’t find a place that I felt I could call my home.
Shortly afterwards, I discovered a group of girls who had felt a similar way, that as great as the three sororities our college had, there was something missing.
A few of the most dedicated girls I’ve ever met began the long process of bringing a new sorority to campus.
I was vaguely involved from the beginning.
I attended interest meetings and helped brainstorm ideas for how to make the idea appealing to the legions of administrators and our fellow students who needed to approve of the idea.
Finally at the beginning of my junior year, we were given the chance to become a colony of a national sorority, and it was so exciting.
It all became real, very quickly.
Working out the technicalities of bringing a new sorority to campus and the coming and going of various girls who would or wouldn’t ultimately join the chapter had been an exciting, if at times arduous, process.
Now that it was happening, I second guessed it all.
I was never going to join a sorority, or so I’d thought.
I was an independent person, and not that I still had doubts that sisters of a sorority were able to be their own person, but the compulsory events and expectations placed on me to be a part of something bigger than myself made me hesitate.
I wanted to back out.
I had never been comfortable doing anything other than what I wanted to do, I didn’t have many close friends and with my busy coursework schedule and other organizations I’d made commitments to I was uneasy about how this would impact my time.
I also feared the stereotype of a “sorority girl."
I didn’t want grad schools or future employers to overlook me because they saw pictures of me in letters,
I knew some professors at my school thought less of students who were in Greek life.
Representatives from our new sorority’s national headquarters went over the expectations of us, how we represented each other, and I felt the pressure of how if I was a minute late to class, I was making the whole house look bad.
My reputation was going to be tied to these 30-something other girls and I wasn’t sure I trusted them to uphold that.
It was such a random group.
We had athletes, RAs, cheerleaders, musicians, great students and okay students, and I wasn’t sure it was a place for me.
I hardly knew most of them, and suddenly people would be judging me based on what they knew of one of the other sisters?
And not just that, but there were some negative feelings from the rest of Greek life on campus.
People I was friends with who had joined other houses earlier didn’t like having a new sorority come to campus.
People I was less friendly with called us losers or worse names, thinking we were a bunch of rejects who were just trying to be like them.
That especially sucked.
Not only was I nervous about what the non-Greek members of campus would think of me, we weren’t welcomed by the rest of Greek life.
After three years of hard work as a student and getting to know so many people, I was afraid to lose their respect for a year and a half as a sorority girl.
The night before our first day as a colony, what we were called before we could be installed as a chapter, I freaked out.
I called my mom and told her how I hated everyone and didn’t want to do it.
It was maybe the last chance I’d have to back out of being a sister and I was so nervous.
I didn’t want these girls to be compared to me, I didn’t want to be compared to them, I hardly knew most of them.
My mom listened and reassured me that I could make any choice I wanted, but I was cruel to think less of other girls based on my assumptions.
She made me realize how selfish I was being, and how as great a person as I told myself I was, I had a lot of room to grow.
Talking to her and taking my own time to reflect on the decision I was making, I realized that the biggest reason I was unsure of what I wanted to do was that I was afraid of the challenge.
I recognized that joining and becoming a part of this organization would be something totally different from anything I had done before and it wasn’t something that I had ever envisioned for myself.
But taking on this challenge would help me grow and become a better person.
It would force me to break out of the mindset that other successful girls were a challenge to me, that girls with different interests were not worth my time.
It was so hard at first. I gritted my teeth and took part in ceremonies and activities that put me out of my comfort zone, but I am so glad I did.
I like to think that I did grow because of my place in my sorority.
I made so many new friends and spent time with girls I wouldn’t have otherwise.
I learned so much from them and they helped me be strong enough to not be strong all the time.
I needed them and realized that they might need me, too.
Senior year presented me with new struggles and it was a relief to not have to go through them alone.
I was never someone to show my true feelings too readily, but the girls I was lucky enough to call my sisters picked me up so many times.
I found my place as their sister, I loved having people to bake for and spend cozy nights watching movies with.
I got mad at some of them, and some of them got mad at me, but I never doubted that I could trust them.
The first year as a sorority was hard and we took on so many difficult situations as a group.
The girls in my sorority became my confidantes, fashion advisors, study buddies, cheerleaders- everything I had wanted out of a sisterhood.
I like to think that I was able to return the favor to them.
Being in a sorority, I overcame my fears and had the sisters I’d always hoped for.
Now that I’ve graduated, I’m so proud to see the girls I still call sisters become strong, amazing women.
I got through the first three years of college without them, but I don’t know how I did.
My year as a sorority girl was worth all the stress and time I put into it, and then some.
Check out this really interesting analysis by Monica Zunick at Northeastern University for Spoon University. The article calls out modern dichotomies between eating healthy and making good choices versus the social media pressure to Instagram late night pizza pics.
This is why I posted a picture on Instagram of me going in for the first bite of my late night buffalo chicken pizza (spoiler alert, it was amazing). It seemed so harmless in the moment, but the next morning I woke up feeling like I was putting on a façade.
Zunick's think piece really got at the heart of the weirdness surrounding expectations for women, healthy eating, and indulgence.
Instances like these remind me of the extent gender inequality is still rampant in the United States. A consistent pattern of indifference and inaction in our judiciary and collegiate systems have failed to hold [white] degenerates like Brock Turner accountable for their actions. It has become clear that colleges would rather hand trivial sentences to the Brocks of campus to “protect” their futures, than work to support their victims.
Brock Turner served a 3-month sentence for raping one of his drunk peers (compared to the entirely-warranted fifteen-year sentence Corey Batey served for the violent rape of a Vanderbilt student). While it may be funny to joke about how short Brock’s sentence was, it sends a very clear message to female college students: Your safety is not as important as his reputation. Judges and college administrators have made decisions time and time again to prolong or halt sexual assault investigations rather than “beseech” the names of male students.
CC Carreras, a student at the University of Richmond, is proof of this message. In an article she wrote for the Huffington Post, entitled “There’s a Brock Turner in all of o(UR) lives,” Carreras writes,
“A year ago, a school administrator at the University of Richmond (UR) in Richmond, Virginia called me into their office. Clad in an ‘It End Now’ shirt, this administrator told me my sexual assault case would not be moving forward. ‘I thought it was reasonable for him to penetrate you for a few more minutes if he was going to finish,’ he said, even though I didn’t consent to the sexual acts.” (You can read the rest of CC’s article here, and I highly suggest you do, she’s an amazing writer and her voice deserves to be heard.)
Delaney Robinson, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, shared a similar experience. “I did everything a rape victim is supposed to do,” Robinson states in a video (below) released on September 13th. “I reported it. I allowed the rape kit to be taken. I gave a statement. I cooperated with law enforcement and the Title IX office. But six months later the university has done nothing.”
Parents of William Paterson University student Cherelle Locklear are suing the school after Locklear committed suicide because of the school’s inability to follow-through with her sexual assault case. This is the second lawsuit William Paterson has received following the misconduct of a sexual assault case. It is very saddening to hear the death of a young woman as the result of her assault, and the failure of the college to protect her.
American colleges have a sexual assault and violence problem. 23% of college women and 5% of college men experience “rape or sexual assault through physical force, violence, or incapacitation” (more statistics here). Colleges and universities are failing to protect their students against assault, and are failing to prosecute rapists and assailants. Many men and women who experienced an assault are either discouraged from reporting it, lack a safe campus environment to report it, or lack the confidence that their school will follow through with the report. This needs to change.
We need better sexual violence education. Grant Neal, a student at Colorado State University of Pueblo, was accused by a third-party observer (not the alleged victim) of raping a girl he took out on a date. The school suspended Neal from the football team at Pueblo based on this third-party accusation, which was denied by the “victim.” Neal is now suing the school, and the U.S. Department of Education, for his suspension. Campuses need to learn that situations like Neal’s require a stronger, lengthy investigation.
While I do not know everything about the case, I am amazed that Neal was charged based on a third-party statement alone. I think that if both parties (Neal and the “victim”) agreed the sex was consensual, all charges against him should be dropped. This is a disappointing example of a college failing to properly follow investigative guidelines, as Neal is likely innocent.
History is repeating itself. We saw Columbia University fail to protect Emma Sulkowicz, we see Colorado State University-Pueblo accuse Grant Neal with little evidence, and now we see Cherelle Locklear lose her life because UNC-Chapel Hill could not follow through with her assault claim. College students, both male and female, will not be safe from assault until colleges can learn to prosecute the Brocks, and support the Emmas, Grants, and Cherelles.
Recently, I read an article written by Gaby Dunn, former Thought Catalog and Buzzfeed employee. I've been working from home and spending a huge amount of time watching trashy Buzzfeed Youtube videos, so I'm familiar with her work. The article detailed how both companies essentially (ALLEGEDLY) exploited a recent grad with little formal work experience, preventing her from being properly compensated for her work, and even from future work.
I'm graduating in December and, especially since I work in similar areas, online media, and such, I could easily see this happening to me. Read and heed her warning. I know I will.
Note: don't sue me
Read this interesting Fusion piece about the students at UC Berkeley and their petition for on campus health centers to provide access to medical abortions to students. Meghan Warner, activist, says:
“Well-woman visits and birth control are the number one service our student health center provides,” Warner told me. “You would think they would want to make that comprehensive and provide abortion, too. But no one wants to be first. No one wants to be the first campus to do this. And I don’t think anyone is really against it at the health center, they just don’t want to deal with the opposition.
Another activist, Aanchal Chugh, said:
“In the articles I’ve seen about what I’m trying to do, they always use the word ‘radical,’” Chugh told me. “And you can use that word if you want. But my stance is that this is not radical at all … There’s nothing radical about wanting students to have accessibility to health care on campus.”
Check out the article for more detail on this interesting article, check out Fusion.
For those of you unfamiliar with Hartwick College, it’s a small liberal arts school in upstate New York that has been my home for the better part of the last three years.
The past few months have shown an escalation of tension between the administration and students, faculty, and staff. Tensions started after eighteen staff members were fired with little warning at the beginning of summer 2015 amidst a budget deficit (more here). When asked about the layoffs, President Drugovich responded with,
“We're not releasing that information today because our first priority is to protect those individuals who are most directly impacted. Whenever you lose a member of a community it's very difficult. Every employee counts in our Hartwick community and they will be missed. It's hard to think that they won't be here” (You can read more here).
Despite the college president’s comments, many are critical of the layoffs.
Tension grew later after a November 2015 ‘Hawk Talk’ held by Student Senate. The Talk allowed students to voice their concerns on different matters to Senate, with no members of the faculty, staff, or administration present. Senate later presented this information to Drugovich, although they had little time to organize the concerns with a hectic upcoming break schedule. With Thanksgiving break, finals, December break, and January Term (when a lot of Hartwick students are abroad or at home for the month), Senate had very few meetings to debrief about the ‘Hawk Talk.’
The administration worked to address some of the concerns brought up by students at the November talk, but many were neglected. Some of these concerns included “dissatisfaction with college President Margaret Drugovich, frustration with how the college is run, and an overall feeling among students and faculty of a ‘lack of communication and transparency’” (from here). In response to the growing frustration of the student body, the Coordinator of Student Life, Noah Jager, sent an anonymous e-mail (which can be viewed here) to the Board of Trustees urging action be taken against Drugovich.
After an investigation conducted by local authorities exposed the identity of the sender, Jager was asked to relinquish his Senate position in addition to all other executive board positions. This has since been contested by college officials, who claim that “no student was stripped of their leadership titled as a result of contacting the Board” (from here). The letter is referenced here.
Since Jager’s decision to step down from his executive board positions, including his role as the Coordinator of Student Life, students have held a protest outside of Board of Trustees meeting (more here) with over 200 students and faculty members in attendance.
I am proud of the student body for their efforts to hold the administration accountable for their lack of transparency. I hope to see students, faculty, and staff continue to voice their concerns and ensure Hartwick remains an open and honest community.
If you are interested in reading more about what’s happening at Hartwick College, check out these articles from the on-campus newspaper Hilltops and the local paper The Daily Star.
How Are We Allowing a System Where Professors Have to Rely on Homeless Shelters: Plight of the Adjunct
Slate recently featured an article on adjunct professors and how our lack of attention to the professors carrying our education system is allowing them to end up in homeless shelters. Recently, at Eastern Connecticut State University there have been contract negotiations for the adjunct professors, and flyers and signs, as well as petitions to draw attention to this issue, because it seems like no one even realizes there's an issue. Read the Slate article and support the adjuncts!
Recently there's been talk around my campus about a sober driver program, where inebriated students could pay $2 and a sober driver would come get them and drive them back to their rooms to prevent drunk driving. I did a little research and plenty of other schools have programs like this, including University of Texas, California State University, and Virginia Tech.
I think a program like this would be really awesome at ECSU because I know of a lot of students who don't want to get in the car with a drunk driver, but feel they have no other options. Personally, I'm a big advocate for Uber, but it can add up.
If ECSU were to implement this type of program, students would be a lot safer and probably make better choices.
The Washington Post is covering a developing story about a college student that was recently shot. 'Chicago police kill emotionally disturbed college student and 55-year-old mother' is yet another headline featuring more people shot and killed. Quintonio LeGrier, 19, and Bettie Jones, 55, were shot and killed by the Chicago police. Eight bullets were fired, 7 into LeGrier and one into Jones. The Chicago police is under investigation.
Not to diminish the role of the Chicago police in this situation, we must also remember how important mental health is. In light of this recent tragedy, it's important to remember that colleges and universities have mental health services available to students. LeGrier was majoring in electrical engineering at Northern Illinois University.
If you are struggling or need to talk to someone and are enrolled in a college or university, please reach out to your school's mental health services center. There are usually free professionals, as well as trained peer helpers, and talking to someone can make all the difference.
Police brutality is a major problem and should not be ignored, but it's absolutely necessary for us to remember that mental health is a hugely stigmatized issue and many college students struggle to get help because they don't know services are available to them.
I thought it would be appropriate to address different challenges some college students are facing, especially in light of recent threats made on the University of Missouri, Mizzou campus. College provides a stressful atmosphere for its students; attending classes, writing papers, managing social outings, balancing studying and socializing, and the list goes on. With all of these responsibilities, it is even more challenging for some students when safety is thrown into the mix.
Threats were made earlier this month against students of color (minorities and non-whites) at the UM Mizzou campus. According to the Washington Post,
As the day progressed, however, the threats turned to social media. Although their source and credibility were questionable, their ugliness was now, and they stoked fears of a school shooting and drove students - particularly minorities - from campus dorms.
Acting in the appropriate manner, many students decided to skip their classes, for fear of being the targets of yet another school shooting (another issue for another day). In response, some of the professors decided to continue holding their regularly scheduled classes. These decisions have been criticized by the students and outside parties.
A white professor, however, challenged his students to come to class, to prevent the ‘bullies’ from winning:
This professor’s lack of awareness and sympathy for his students, whom I believe have a legitimate reason to miss class, is a prime example of white privilege. We (the white population) must understand that violence on college campuses is very real, and violence against minorities on campuses is something that some students must face.
Colleges should be safe for all students, regardless of their race/ethnicity, gender and sex, sexual orientation and religion. If you’re white, the most important thing you can do when events like this occur is continue to bring awareness to the problem. Make sure that UM Mizzou is still in the spotlight, and push for investigations to ensure the safety of all of its students.