Sitting with friends the other evening at the Texas Rangers baseball game my husband was lamenting about the hefty checks he writes for our daughter’s sorority bill each month.  One of the men we were with asked the million dollar question, “Besides fraternity guys, parties and a social life what does the sorority have to offer?”  I had to think for a moment before I opened my mouth.  Sitting with 10 attorneys who argue cases in some of the highest courts in the country I knew I had to be prepared for rebuttals and more questions so I wanted to have an air tight case.

Here’s my reply.

The first and foremost thing a sorority has to offer is a SUPPORT SYSTEM of sisters.  For our daughter going to college meant picking up a moving almost 12 hours from home.  My chances of getting there if she needed me in less than 12 hours was minimal.  Driving verses flying are actually the same when you add up time spent getting to an airport, changing planes (there are no non-stops flights from where we live), renting a car and then driving an hour to campus…’s just a half of day.  Realistically, if she needs some hand holding because a test didn’t go well or she and her boyfriend had a spat am I really going to drive 12 hours to give her a hug?  Nope, but she has over 250 sisters who will.

I can tell you many stories over the past 2 years where her sisters have been there for her but there are 2 that come to mind.

The first is her freshman year of college.   She was still a pledge and had a horrific schedule.  When she entered college she wanted to be a surgeon.  Against all advice (even the adviser during orientation) she took the intensive pre-med track  schedule of classes.  She loved sorority life and jumped right in.  Homecoming week was non stop pomping and my daughter had taken on a leadership position in her pledge class which required her to be at the house working on the house dec every extra minute she had.  You see that’s my daughter…she will do whatever it takes to make the project she’s working on a success.  By Wednesday of homecoming week she hadn’t slept in over 24 hours, hadn’t gone to class except to take a test in Chem (which she flunked) and was exhausted!  It was her Big Sis in the house and a group of sophomores who came into the tv room where she was pomping, took her by her arms and led her to one of the bedrooms.  They had decorated the room with a big sign that said they loved her, pinned a medal on her that said she was the best pledge ever, had a warm and yummy healthy dinner there for her, had made up the bed to be soft and comfy, made a “Do Not Disturb” sign to hang on the door and insisted that she eat, sleep and then stop.  They wouldn’t take “no” for an answer and even posted girls outside the door to make sure she did all of the above and didn’t escape.  They made sure she got up the next morning, served her breakfast in bed and made sure she went to class.  They also got her a sister who could help her with Chem (that class was a huge challenge).  they supported her through a tough time!

The second instance was this year of Spring Break.  My daughter and 9 other girls rented a condo in Florida.  It was at the ultimate Spring Break destination and she was really excited to go and hang out on the beach with her sisters (most of the sorority was in condos in this area as well as her boyfriend and most of his fraternity).  On the way down my daughter didn’t feel well.  As the week progressed so did her symptoms and by Friday of Spring Break it was apparent that she had a pretty serious issue with her stomach.  All week the girls tried every remedy under the sun to help her keep down food but by the time she returned to school it was apparent she needed medical help.  Imagine the Urgent Care’s surprise when my daughter showed up with 15 sisters who insisted that they all go in the room with her, to her MRI and Ultra Sound and each took turns calling the doctor for test results.  What seemed like a serious situation actually turned out to be a minor problem but the support of her sisters was amazing!

In addition to support being a member of a sorority EMPOWERS young women to be leaders.  If you look at successful and powerful women in many walks of life chances are you will find that they were affiliated with a sorority during their college years. How do sororities do this you ask?  Most sororities ask each young woman to become affiliated with at least two different clubs or groups that are not Greek affiliated.  This encourages these young women to branch out and become involved in activities that they are passionate about or in some cases to become passionate about a cause that had not been on their radar before.  My daughter is involved in an Honor Society on campus, Elect Her  a political group from women, Relay for Life as a Team leader, Project Health which is a health initiative on campus to help young women to have a positive body outlook, Gamma Health, she is a hostess for the university, a tour guide for the department of Health Sciences….all of which have nothing to do with the offices and activites that she is involved with in her sorority.  Here is a short list of sorority women who are currently involved in amazing opportunities in their life:

Condolezza Rice..Alpha Chi Omega…Secretary of State

Ruth Bader Ginsberg….Alpha Epislon Pi…Supreme Court Justice

Katie Couric…Delta Delta Delta…TV Anchor Woman

Nancy Grace…Alpha Delta Pi…….CNN Journalist

Georgia O’Keffe…Kappa Delta…Artitst

Erin Andrews…Zeta Tau Alpha…ESPN Sports

Jane H Barrett..Alpha Phi..1st Board Woman American Bar Assc.

Heather Whitestone…Alpha Omicorn Pi…Miss America

Dr. Cynthia Hamlet Cole…Chi Omega…Head of Pediatrics Johns Hopkins Institute

Julia Louis Dreyfuss….Delta Gamma…Elaine on Seinfeld

Dr. Carol Leach Huntoon…Delta Zeta…Astronaut Director of NASA

Grace Coolidge…P Beta Phi…First Lady of the United States

Margaret Chase Smith…Sigma Kappa…1st US Woman Senator

So that’s just a short list of thousands of women EMPOWERED by sorority life.

Finally I think that life a sorority woman encourages a young woman to be well rounded in every area of life. SCHOLASTICALLY she is asked to be the best she can be.  Most sororities have minimum GPA’s required for membership.  Help is available for those who need help in this area once they have become a member but an entire scholastic program is in place to insure success in this area.

Each sorority is tied to a particular PHILANTHROPY that it’s members work for and are affiliated with not only for the 4 years they are in college but many go on to a lifetime of SERVICE TO OTHERS.  Sorority life encourages young women to give selflessly .

ETIQUETTE is stressed at all times..whether it’s formal Chapter meetings, Alumnae teas and gatherings, Formal Recruitment or National Meetings.  Sorority women are polished both in their appearances and their manners.

SELF ESTEEM.  Sorority women empower each other to be the best they can be.  As a sisterhood they lift up each sister to be proud of who she is!

COMPASSIONATE.  From the minute a sister accepts a bid she enters a family that is hers for life.  no matter where she goes in the world she will find a family of loving, caring, compassionate sisters who will welcome her with open arms.  In turn she too learns the power of compassion and caring for others.

So by the time I stepped off my soap box 30 minutes later the entire table was silent.  It was a great gentleman from Michigan who finally broke the silence by saying..”So my daughter’s 5..when can I sign her up?”..I think I just won my case :).