This past weekend, myself and the rest of JMU students involved in sorority life celebrated the new members running home. As a member of a sorority I have experienced first hand how people generalize and attach stereotypes to all sorority girls. I have found that what is most common is just an exaggerated version of what women everywhere have to deal with on a daily basis. It’s the assumption that we all care profusely about our looks or that our main priority at JMU is to get with boys. We are all intelligent college students so I’m sure whoever is reading this knows where my point is heading. We are all individuals with interests and goals and futures. We deserve to be respected by our own merit and not the greek symbols we are associated with. It’s pretty clear some of us need to rewatch Legally Blonde.
So to get you started and challenge your preconceptions I am going to share a very personal letter about my experience in greek life at JMU. I have changed the names of anyone I wrote about in this letter as well as my sorority’s name. If I leave it in I know connections will be seen and preconceptions will be drawn despite best efforts to keep them away.
This is my love letter to Delta Nu. Over the past three years like all of us, I have written many letters and had some read to me in return. It's actually one of the reasons I became a Delta Nu. If strangers could bring me to tears with a string of words on a piece of paper, mountains could be moved by those same women, and I wanted to help them move those mountains. This time, this letter is different. It is the last one I will write as a member of this sisterhood. But this isn't a sad letter, definitely not. It may be my last but it's potentially all of your firsts and that is the most exciting thing about tonight. When I was sitting here in the basement three long, short years ago I cried along with the senior in my current position as she read her letter to the women I didn’t know were gonna be my best friends. I saw her sisters huddle around her as they laughed and cried together over their inside jokes and memories. It was then, as I saw how they all leaned on each other when I knew I’d found my home. I remember that I was so blown away with the true love that I witnessed that night and wanting with all my heart to open my Bid card the next morning and see Delta Nu scribbled at the top. And I did and so began my life with the most beautiful, important organization of my life. Freshman year as we know or are figuring out now is a crazy year. For me it was my first time living away from home. I knew no one and was experiencing extreme anxiety for the first time. I loved my classes and made great friends in them but I still felt so alone. I’d come from having very close and deep relationships to not having anyone to be my full self with. I was thinking about transferring when I began recruitment which I now look back on as the best choice of my life to date because it brought me Delta Nu, it brought me you guys. And so the journey begins. I grew more my freshman year than any other year here because I gained 200 women that helped me step into who I’m meant to be, the woman I am today. Over that first year they taught me many things. For example, the middle part is the only way to go and a place called St. Tropez where my pale ass can get tan. But, most importantly they taught me that I have the capacity to love more than 200 people deeply, something I didn’t think was possible. This love has only grown over the years. My sophomore year, even though it was cut short, brought me close to the girls that yes, will be my bridesmaids and help me when I have to pee in a princess gown. Covid tested a lot of relationships, for us our friendships only got stronger. Once a week, like clockwork, we would zoom before dinner for hours. It probably wasn’t the best idea to do it then cause we would always talk through it. My parents grew to know that every Wednesday we would end up eating at 8:00pm and not 6:30pm. I would look forward to these calls every week. They were what I needed to get through all of the stress that I was under. Earlier that year I had learned that my mom got breast cancer. She is all good now and happier now more than ever but when my parents first told me the news I broke down. While I was crying and overthinking there were only some people that I wanted, needed with me. It is not a coincidence that they were all Delta Nu. And they did everything they could for me that night, and every night since then. Before this night I thought I was an only child, I was so wrong. Fast forward to Junior year and those same girls that supported me at my darkest are now my roommates and neighbors. Since we moved in last year I have woken up every morning knowing that no matter what happens in the day that I can come back home excited to get home to tell them what happened knowing that they want to hear about it too. As you all have most likely heard throughout your time here with us, Delta Nu is full of indescribable moments and feelings. I have been in this sisterhood for three years and I still haven't figured out how to describe what being in Delta Nu is. But fuck it, i’ll try my best. The reasons I love Delta Nu are infinite but it is the little moments, the inbetweens that I’ve found is what makes Delta Nu feel so full. The strongest memories that I have aren't necessarily all the big events that we hold or the things that I’ve heard before. The times that I have not expected to be memorable are by far the most impactful. It’s when Elle sends her good morning texts, when I get grilled cheese from Vivienne, or when my family and I watch horror movies on a couch that has been passed down probably one to many times. Tonight is very bittersweet for me and the rest of our seniors. These past two weeks have been filled with a lot of lasts for us. Last time chanting, last time using popsicle sticks, and the last time we get to brag about how incredible Delta Nu is to potential new sisters. But with all these lasts are the stories we will tell for the rest of our lives in admiration of when we were all together like this. If I am lucky enough to have a daughter, these are the moments I will tell her about. I’ll tell her the story of tonight when I was blubbering in a basement in front of people I have yet to know. I'll tell her about how her aunties are the most kind, genuine, and beautiful women on this planet. And most importantly I will share with her how important it is to find the people that will love her as much, and as deeply as I will teach her to love with help from her remarkable aunties. And so I will leave you all with this: if you follow your heart in your decision tonight, you will end up following it home.
As you might imagine, it was a very emotional night. My goal with this blog post is to share a piece of myself with the hope that you get to know a little bit about the depth of sororities and their members; however, despite my love for my sorority, it would be wrong to ignore the systematic racism in Greek Life across the nation and at JMU. 25.2% of this schools students have races other than white and while I don’t have the statistics for greek life at JMU specifically, but I know it doesn’t reflect a similar one.