Saturday, January 11, 2014

#SororitySaturday: On Hazing

I've been a proud sorority woman for almost four full years now, but I still remember my New Member period like it was yesterday.

I was a young, nervous college freshmen. My older sister was in a sorority too, but even so, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect after I got my bid. The media inundates us with horrific stories about hazing: pledges eating goldfish, being forced to break the law or face public humiliation. I was nervous, but I wasn't worried: I knew if anything like that happened, I'd be out of there faster than you can say deactivate.
But here's a story that people don't talk about, because it doesn't draw as many eye-catching headlines: Like thousands of other sorority women across the nation, I was not hazed. 
You heard me correctly. Not one bit. As a matter of fact, what I experienced was pretty much the polar opposite of hazing. I was assigned my Big, who served as a mentor and friend, and even showered me with cute gifts. My New Member period was spent building me up and making me feel incredibly welcomed. I had found my home away from home in a group of strong and smart women.
Me with my Big on my 20th birthday
This is why it's so frustrating for me to see constant, one-sided reporting on fraternity and sorority issues. News outlets love to talk about specific incidents where something horrible happened and then portray it as if that's what all of Greek life is like. I can't speak for everyone, but I know that at least to my experience, that is not what my sisters and I stand for. Every time someone asks if I was hazed and I say that I wasn't, I'm met with resistance. I get a lot of, "Oh, okay, *wink-wink*, of course you didn't." It's hard to explain to people that I'm not attempting to cover up any dirty little secrets. The much less-scandalous truth is that I really wasn't a victim of hazing.
So I'm writing this as one sister's small attempt to level out the playing field. For every story we have about one bad example chapter, we need to be telling another story about a chapter who has done something wonderful, like raised thousands of dollars for their philanthropy. Hazing is a horrible issue that happens across a wide variety of organizations, from Greek life to athletics, and it's important that we all do our part to put a stop to it, and to the negative views that it perpetuates.
Me and one of my own Littles!


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