This is a different kind of post than the decorating ideas and book reviews that I have been posting lately....
I have this friend.
We met along the way in life, and she has become one of my closest confidantes. She is the person that I call when I am having a panicked moment and have no direction for where my life is heading. She is the person who knows how to read me and respond accordingly - sometimes I need her to make me laugh, other times to sit silently next to me, watching mindless tv. She is always there when I need to vent or to tell some juicy gossip that I cannot share with anyone else. She is greater than a friend to me. She is my adopted family - someone I think of as a sister.
But there is one thing that I would change about our friendship...
She is not a sorority woman. And she should be.
I regret that we never recruited her. And when I say we, I do not mean the Iota chapter of Alpha Phi - she did not go to school at UW-Madison. I mean the collective "we," as fraternity men and sorority women. Because the truth is - she lives our values every single day. If I broke down the Alpha Phi creed line-by-line, I could find her in each piece.
The thing is, she never actively made a decision not to join a sorority. She went through her undergraduate experience and found other places on campus that she connected, without really thinking about a sorority as an option. She got involved in student activities and student government. She volunteered in the community. She studied abroad. And in her time on campus, no sorority woman ever reached out to her, or demonstrated how she could find others who shared her values in that home we call sorority. That she could grow from the experience, and help the organization to grow in return. I know her well enough to know that she would have made an outstanding chapter president, she would have recruited amazing members, and she would have left a lasting legacy in her chapter.
Even now, she is someone who is very supportive of fraternity and sorority. She works on a college campus, and supports the men and women who wear Greek letters on her campus everyday. She advocates from the experience as a non-member. She volunteers in her community on a regular basis. And she embodies sisterhood - it oozes out of her pores.
She is the reason that I hate that phrase "From the outside looking in, you can't understand it. And from the inside looking out, you can't explain it." It's not true. Both because she does understand sorority (as do many other non-members), and also because don't we have a responsibility to teach others what it means through our words and our actions? Isn't that phrase kind of a cop out. Let's agree to stop saying it, and to stop printing it on cheesy t-shirts.
My friend would make us better as a community, and we are a little bit less without her. I wish she were an Alpha Phi, but I also know that she would be an outstanding Delta Gamma, Zeta Tau Alpha, Sigma Kappa - any sorority would be lucky to have her.
When I think back to my own college experience, I know that there were probably other women like her, that we never took the time to recruit. Women who were creating change on other parts of campus, that we didn't seek out. Because we thought that we didn't have to, as there were lots of women signing up for formal recruitment each year. Who else did we miss out on? Who are those men that were turned off by fraternity, that could have raised the standards of our community if they joined. And who are those young men and women on the college campus today, that don't give fraternity/sorority a second thought, that we really need?
I know that my friend could still join as an alumna. And I plan to explore that opportunity with her. But wouldn't it have been great to have shared the experience with her 10 years ago?