Sisters

How can one enjoy others’ company so thoroughly, and yet be willing to get back home.  In truth, I know the answer, at least in Jungian psychology, but I had no idea how tired I’d be.   I spent the weekend in the company of women I hadn’t seen in nearly 30 years – sorority sisters from Carnegie Mellon University.  After a thoroughly enjoyable, emotional, and tiring weekend, I was absolutely wiped.

When we left school – after a few years for some, more for others – keeping track of one another was work.  Long-distance telephone charges were prohibitive, particularly for those just starting entry-level jobs, paper-and-pen correspondence took longer than many of us had, and the internet was but a concept only a few scientists understood.  Even those of us at Carnegie Mellon didn’t really have a concept of how easy it would be to share our lives this much later.

Forty-eight hours of reminded friendship.  Fory-eight hours to catch up on lives — marriages, relationships, children, parents, work, successes.  Note the failures aren’t mentioned.  I guess it takes more than forty-eight hours to get back to that level.  We shared happy, and not-so-happy.  We celebrated successes – in careers and in life – not the least of which was beating cancer.   I wonder how much of our reluctance to go to bad places is the filter of time, how much the filter of concern, and how much the realization we had only forty-eight hours and we needed to make it count.   While we believe we’ll see each other again in a couple of years, that may not be so.   It wasn’t difficult, though, to remind ourselves what made us friends.

I was struck by the similarities more so than the differences.  Thirty years of life hasn’t changed the essence of the women we  chose to call sister back then.   Oh, maybe we are a little less physically active, we drink a bit less, and we didn’t worry about being thrown out of the hotel lobby at some ungodly hour.  Maybe we were a bit more concerned with sleep and less with staying up all night. Maybe we talked a little more of medicines and less of vices.  (I bet if we’d been in a dormitory instead, things would have been different.)

We had time to become reacquainted, and I hope to rekindle the bonds of friendship.  We kept dicussions superficial, and that’s probably right.  We need to remind ourselves why we were friends, and we had just barely enough time to do that.

Makes me wonder about friendships among women who see each other nearly every day, whose lives intersect frequently, year after year.   In some ways I long for it; in others I don’t.  So I’m glad I have my life, and others have theirs, I guess.

At some time, I hope to be able to discuss more in-depth topics with these dear friends.  For now, I’m so very thankful they chose to spend their weekend together.

In the Bonds, all.

Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 9:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

OMG! She said “rush”

On greekchat.com the other day, I read something about dirty rush. Now, I don’t even know what they might have been discussing, as no one has said anything but “dirty rush” without explaining specifics. I’m not even sure it’s happening on any of the campuses mentioned, because rumor seems to be the order of the day.

But “is not point”. Point is, someone wrote something to the effect of “never mind someone printing objects with the word “rush” in today’s day and age …” Never mind the fact we expect these young women to make a decision in 4-6 days, and we choose or cut them in less (ooooh – she said “cut” – that might be violent). We can’t use that word “in today’s day and age.”

Oh, please.

Another word some special-interest group wants banned because it might mean something offensive to 26 groups that once upon a time didn’t want these poor little girls to feel rushed. Just like they don’t say “pledge” because heaven forbid we let the girl know we mean for her to make a real promise. One she keeps.

I can’t get over the words we’re forcing ourselves not to use in some feel-good imitation of “doing what’s right”. It’s better to use “potential new member” than “rushee” – I guess because we’d rather treat her like a job applicant than a sister. Or perhaps we’d be “hazing” if we “make” her “promise.”
sigh.

Is it any wonder there are houses that lose 25-50% of pledge classes (oh, new member classes) before graduation?

Published in: on December 18, 2007 at 11:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

More on Greeks … ’cause it’s been on my mind

So, I started reading greekchat.com forums, particularly those on greek life and on rush (they call it recruitment now, like it’s job interviews).  What I see disturbs me even more about the system than before.

Disclaimer: Even when I pledged, in 1973, I never understood Panhellenic.  I do understand banding together to  reach common goals, but I don’t understand setting common goals in such a way that differences disappear.  I do understand as well that CMU in the 70s was not UT of the 00s, too.

So many rush systems are set (even CMU’s, it seems) to get the girls to every house in the shortest period of time.  Imagine, often these girls are voting on who will become their sisters for life without ever having met the girls.  The rushees will have spent a grand total of less than three hours in the place they’ll pledge loyalty to for life.  Some girls will be cut from consideration on less than 20 minutes’ impression.  No wonder there were stories lately about women being chosen and then judged and punished based on looks.  I’m betting that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

So many campuses are pushing the idea that any sorority is good.  Doesn’t matter which one, really.  If you don’t get your first choice, that’s okay, they’re all alike.  But you must visit every one, because you aren’t smart enough to do research on a group’s goals, philanthropy, and culture.  You have to visit for fifteen minutes to learn this.

Worse yet, some have rush before classes start, and then some girls get cut by every house in the first day or two.  Nothing like saying “we won’t take the time to get to know you, but, oh, hey, here’s a t-shirt to say you wanted to join one but we didn’t care enough.”  And you pay for that privilege.

Girls, don’t you get tired of going to college to have people tell you that you aren’t smart enough to figure things out?  That you’re not able to research?  That you’re too stupid to make an intelligent choice without pledge guides hiding their affiliation and convincing you one is as good as the other?

And isn’t it amazing that those who don’t think about sororities before they get to school — then learn that there are these organizations that have real meaning, and bonds forever, and friendships, and good purposes — aren’t as desirable as sophomores as they were as freshmen?  Do you realize how many schools are likely to cut a sophomore or junior – one they can find something about – than they are a freshman who’s not sure about her life, is away from home for the first time, and might or might not take to college life?

Then, schools, national headquarters, and panhellenic come along to tell you what traditions you can keep and which aren’t “right.”  It appears some beloved traditions, enjoyed by everyone, might, just might, by someone not there, be considered hazing.  The definition of hazing got so out of control that things everyone might want, that students might have thought through, can still be called hazing.  We’ll have a RISK MANAGEMENT program – that means not that you get to learn how to manage risk, but that we’ll consider anything that might cause you to even get your feelings hurt a No-No.  That’s our definition of risk management.

Unfortunately, there’s no way to change things from the outside.  I doubt there’s much of a way to change things from the inside.

Published in: on October 6, 2007 at 9:57 pm  Comments (1)  

Musings on Greeks – or living up to your words

Let me share where I’m coming from.

In college, lo these 30 years ago, I joined a greek-letter society.  That experience gave me sisters, socialization, friends, and support I probably would not have had otherwise.  Mind you, the group was fewer than 20 people at its largest; I might not have been as happy with the 50-80+ member groups so common today.  

Based on some communications with sisters lately, I started looking and thinking.  I viewed many of the web sites of the 26 women’s fraternities and sororities of the National Panhellenic Conference (http://www.npcwomen.org).  Most have some form of “to provide leadership opportunities….” phrasing as part of their goals, either on their front page or not too deeply inside.

Is this leadership:  Vote for XXX on Dancing with the Stars, because she’s a sister.

Is this leadership:  Vote for this pageant contestant because she’s a sister.

Is this leadership:  Vote for this photographer because she’s a sister.

Is this leadership:  Vote for XXX in November, because she’s a sister.

No.  That’s following.  It’s doing what someone else says.  It’s not letting YOUR voice be heard. 

Of course, if that’s the way you would have voted anyway, great.  Support your sister.  That’s one of our roles.  But NOT the primary one.  I would no more vote for a political candidate of whose stance on the issues differs from mine just because she’s a sister than I would send money to an organization whose cause I scorn.  Sheep follow the flock.  Leaders are out in front.

No, the Greek groups don’t seem to be teaching women to think for themselves.  At least mine urges its members to sign up for the Fraternal Caucus (http://www.fraternalcaucus.com) without telling us what that is.  By the way, as near as I can tell it’s a group that wants all fraternities and sororities to think the same way and follow, not lead.  “This website is intended to harness the collective voice of nine million fraternity and sorority members nationwide. Please start your involvement by registering on the website (see the Get Involved tab above) and giving us the information we need to contact you in the future to take specific actions that help Greek life.”  Translation:  we’ll call when we need you and tell you what to do.  The first thing I wanted to do when I saw the “join the fraternal caucus” line was research WHY.  Did the group provide me the “why”?  No.  How again are we developing leaders?

Seems to me we’re promoting leadership by PowerPoint.  Do you know the “right” things to say?  Do you know how to be political?

Not once on any of the member sites did I find a mention of finding a passion and pursuing it.  Not once did I find an exhortation to take a leadership role in something not promoted by that particular group.  Not once did I find anything more than lip service to the vast power of individuals.

Here’s a check.  Go look at the “Greek Man of the Year” and “Greek Woman of the Year” – anywhere.  College campuses.  On line.  Individual organization web pages.  Find ONE, just ONE, who’s cited for activity outside: Big Brothers/Sisters, Blood Drives, Student Organizations.  Find ONE who’s cited for political activism, for championing a cause or a right.  Find one who started an organization to fill a need (not a cause, a need).  Find ONE who faced criticism for doing what s/he believed, though it be apart from the mainstream. Please post your results here.  

Published in: on October 1, 2007 at 10:50 pm  Comments (6)