This is the sixth in a multi-part tale of my experience with Greek life and sororities. This is not meant to offend, put down, or upset anyone about being in a sorority or being Greek (I was one too!). It is just my recount of how I became Greek, what happened once I became Greek, and how I ended my affiliation. Please do not take this offensively in any way.
On the final day of recruitment (before Bid Day), the PNMs go to their last houses for the preference ceremonies. This is an emotional day for all involved, for it is the closest a PNM will get to becoming a sister of the sorority without actually pledging or being initated. Active sisters, alumnae, and PNMs often cry on this day because of all of the emotion involved. This is the last chance that chapters have to “sell” their sorority to the PNMs. By this point, all PNMs that are “preffed” are on that chapter’s bid list. If they actually end up getting a bid depends on how the PNM “ranks” the chapter. If all matches up, basically, their first choice is usually who is on their bid card. In some cases, their second or third choice is on their bid cards, so PNMs are cautioned that just because a chapter is listed as first by them on their final write-in does not mean they’re getting a bid from that chapter, but, there is an extremely high chance that they will.
Over the week of recruitment, I had gotten to know my PNMs that were assigned to me as their Rho Gamma quite well. Whether they liked me or not, they were all individuals who truly deserved the best, whatever that may be for them. One girl in my group absolutely loved me and I loved her–she was smart, gorgeous, funny, athletic–but I knew shortly after recruitment began that there was no way she was going to join my chapter. She told me on the last day that she truly hoped that my sorority was her first choice on her final voting card. It was so, so hard to remain objective as possible during pref day. We were sworn to secrecy to not, under any circumstances, ever tell a PNM what sorority we’re in, give them any clues on what to do, or persuade them to go one way or another. This is why I had to de-tag all of my pictures, why I had to stop talking to my sisters altogether for two months leading up to recruitment, and why my PNMs could not even know my real name. All to have the PNMs chose what they want based on their heart, not anyone else’s.
But, I’m sorry to say, Recruitment Exec members, fellow Rho Gammas, active sisters of all chapters at UCF, and all the PNMS that rushed that year: I broke all of those rules on the final day of recruitment. (Very few people know what I’m about to share, so feel privileged if you’re still reading!)
After all the pref ceremonies were over for that day, I handed the girls their final cards to rank the sororities for the very last time. There were three lines on the paper and that was where they would write each sorority’s name in order according to what was in their heart on what they wanted. Not all girls have three chapters that day, but must of them do. (Imagine if you had one, there’s no decision involved there!) I remember my Rho Gamma group was stationed at my chapter’s house that day. Of all days, we had to be stationed at mine on the hardest, most emotional day of recruitment. The sun was starting to go down and the sky was turning all colors of purple, pink and orange. There was a cool breeze that swept through the front lawn as we stood under the vacant white tent that once sat every last PNM who had participated in recruitment. Some of my girls spent no time at all on their final ranking, others went off into quiet corners and spent up to an hour deliberating on who to put first, second, and third.
One of my girls, who I had grown close to over the week, had told me earlier that day, “Mother Bread, I hope that you’re a sister in one of these houses I’m going to today. I would feel honored to have you be my sister.”
I smiled and said, “Oh, we’ll see,” not realizing the severity of her statement.
After she had spent about 30 minutes deciding who to put as first, second, and third, she handed me her card, but had a strong grip on her end. “I…I don’t know what to do,” she stammered.
“What do you mean?” I asked, letting go of her strong grip on the card.
“I just don’t know if I made the right choice. I really want to do the right thing, but I don’t know if this is right,” she told me.
It was then that I made a decision. All rules I had sworn by aside, I took her over to the steps of the house where my active sisters were just on the other side of the colored-with-paper glass plated windows. We sat on those steps as the sun still continued to go down and the other PNMs cautiously gave me their cards.
She told me again, “I want you to be my sister so bad. I don’t know if this right. I don’t even know if you’re in one of these chapters.”
I looked at the list she had again. I was in the chapter that was ranked “#2” but I didn’t know what to say.
“I know, I would want you to be my sister too, ” I replied, almost shaking, knowing this conversation was highly illegal.
I don’t remember much of our conversation during the next five or so minutes, but I remember I eventually broke.
“I can’t tell you what to do, but I am going to tell you that I am in one of those chapters.”
She gasped and put both hands over her mouth. “Oh my gosh. I can’t believe it. Now this is even harder because I know it’s one of those three.”
I smiled and said, “Yes, it is, but I can’t tell you. I just can’t tell you…”
My voice probably wasn’t convincing because she looked at me in the eye and told me, “I would want you as my big sister. You’re so much like me, you’d be such a great big sister. I want you to initiate me and guide me through the new member period so badly.”
I held my breath and looked around for a minute which seemed like ten to me. “I would want you as my little sister too. I’ve never had a little sister. Well, I did, but we wound up not initiating her and she wasn’t a good fit for our chapter. But you are a good fit for my chapter. You are so perfect, you belong there.”
She looked me with a “what do I do” look and wanted me to tell her what to do. This is EXACTLY why the rules of Rho Gammas exist, because this is what can happen. And I had fallen directly into it, deep into it at that, and at this point I figured there was nothing else to do.
I looked back at the windows to make sure none of my own sisters were peeping through the small crevices between the paper and the glass plates on the windows. I glanced over to the tent where my fellow Rho Gammas were distracted by stacking and putting away chairs while a large fan blew looseleaf papers around under the tent. All of their PNMs had gone for the night and so had mine. We were the only ones left sitting. I looked at her list again and I held my breath.
“OK, I’m not going to tell you what I’m in, and you can’t tell anyone what I’m about to say, ever, but I’m going to tell you right now, if you want to be my sister, you’re gonna have to switch the first two.”
Her eyes lit up. “I knew it. I knew that was it. I knew I had the wrong choice. Oh my gosh, I knew it!”
I gave her an extra slip where she then wrote her three choices over again. I watched her, with no hesitation, write the three names next to each number. And my sorority was number one on her list.
…to be continued.