Triple Delta, Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Phi, Sigma Omega Nu… No, I’m not trying to learn the Greek alphabet, which I learned a long, long time ago (Ok, maybe not that long). These are the names of sororities and fraternities around UCSB. If you stroll around Isla Vista you can see their houses with the two or three Greek letters that form their names on the wall of the main entrance, so they are easily identifiable. By the way, sororities are the same that fraternities but their members are only girls. They are usually on the movies, and yes, dear readers, they do exist in the real American college life. But, do they have to fulfill real challenges to become members? Do they host the craziest college parties? Is the sense of belonging real? I had so many questions so I asked a girl in a sorority if I could interview her. There we go.
She* is a 3rd year student at UCSB and she is a member of a latino-chicano sorority that exists nationwide. Sororities and frats are sometimes organized by ethnicity (latino, asian…) or by field of study (law, medicine, engineering…), and they help to meet people during the college life and create support on academic, personal and professional life.
O: How long have you been in the sorority?
T: I became a member last March, so three months.
O: Why did you decide that this was the one you wanted to become a member of?
T: I went to see other sororities and the girls there were not that friendly. It seemed they just wanted me to join them but without making an effort to seem friendly to me. The one I joined seemed friendly and also welcoming.
O: How does the sorority work, you have like an older sister…
T: Yes, she is called the big. She is a person who already is in the sorority and she leads and guides the new members through the initiation process. They are there to help you so you can talk to them if you have any problem or you just need advice. Then, there is a president, a vicepresident, a secretary… almost everyone has chargers and they are part of commissions which have different functions: fundraising, communication, sisterhood…
O: Did you know anyone there before becoming a sister?
T: I knew one of the sisters that is my housemate.
O: What is the ‘rush’?
T: The rush is the week or two when sororities and fraternities try to get new members. They do workshops and orientation about what they focus on, what are their pillars… they also do social events to meet other people and to get to know the sisters of the sorority.
O: In the movies, we often see that you have to fulfill some kind of challenges to become a member, is that true?
T: It is kind of true, it prepares you to become a sister but it is really overwhelming. You have to get into a process, you have to memorize things about the sorority, there is a history quiz… It’s not really hazing, that is only in the fraternities.
O:Do you have to pay to become a member?
T:Yes, you have to pay dues. It is a yearly amount that you can pay every quarter. It is about $150, it is cheaper than other white-girls sororities. We don’t have a house because it’s too expensive and our sorority only has 32 sisters.
O: What do you think makes your sorority different from others?
T: In general, that is multicultural and it focuses a lot in Latino cultural things. It has three main objectives: academics, cultura and sisterhood. It really emphasizes cultura, we do potlucks where parents come and talk about where they are from and we learn from other people’s backgrounds.
O: What kind of activities do you do?
T: We have weekly meetings on Mondays, community service every two weeks, we have to go to the library 6h per week… and then, we also do fundraisers, workshops and sisterhood events and we go together somewhere.
O: Are there any traditional celebrations that you do every year?
T: My sorority exists all over the country and in April we have a tournament. All the sororities meet somewhere, this year it was here, in Santa Barbara, and we do tournaments of games and sports. We play dodgeball, frisbee, kickball, track and field and we compete.
O: Did you win this year?
T: We got the third place!
O: What about rules…Are there rules to follow?
T: The meetings are mandatory and if you miss them you get fined. Same with the library hours…
O: And how do they control if you have done your library hours?
T: We have a locker in the library with a notebook and every time we go we have to write it down.
O: How does being in a sorority benefit you?
T: There is one main reason, that you meet more people. When I have to look for a job they can help me and also it is a good way to focus on my studies and also to become involved in school.
O: How do you contribute to your sorority?
T: I guess that helping out, the sorority has been working for three years and it was really small, so having girls and joining them I can introduce it to other girls and help it to grow.
O: What is the relation between fraternities and sororities?
T: It is pretty good but only with latino fraternities. At the beginning of the year we do socials and we become partners with a fraternity.
O: And what is the relationship with other sororities?
T: It depends, we have organized workshops with different sororities during the week of awareness. But there are also bad relationships, during a fundraiser a girl from another sorority walked by and started making faces and stuff like that.
O: Tell me about the parties.
T: After you cross, so you have become a member, they host a party for us. There are a lot of frat guys coming who even now talk to you on campus. The parties are pretty crazy.
O: What is the best part of being part of a sorority?
T: Meeting people and knowing that after graduation you will have connections and networks and also, being able to contribute to the campus.
Hope you all enjoyed my first post in English and learned something about sorority life. If you have more questions about it ask on the comments and I will try to answer them. Thanks for reading!
*I removed the interviewee and the sorority name because they asked me for it when the interview was already published.