Some of my best memories from my sorority were at our invites and date parties. These are two semesterly parties hosted by sororities where members dress up, bring dates and go to a mystery location to party. I remember date party my first semester, standing on the deck of the party boat, breathing in the salty air and watching the fairy lights on the deck twinkle against my purple dress. It was my first invite party at UC Berkeley, and that night was the best time I’d ever spent with my sorority. I couldn’t wait to attend next semester’s invite party with my fellow sorority sisters.
The next semester, in an attempt to branch out, I signed up for more units and joined two more clubs. Unfortunately, because of these new commitments, it was becoming harder to earn enough points to attend invite. Each member had to be above a certain number of points in order to go to these events — the more Greek life events that I attended, the more points I earned.
One Wednesday while I was studying for an exam, my friend interrupted my thoughts asking, “Are you going to the bake sale tomorrow?”
Though I had forgotten about the Greek event, I was swamped with work and knew I couldn’t attend.
“No, I have two midterms tomorrow and an essay due Friday, so I definitely don’t have time,” I responded. We had both been trying to attend every single event possible in order to gain enough points to attend invite that semester, and I was unsure if I would be able to attend this semester.
Going to events felt like a chore, and although many of them were fun or philanthropic, while juggling homework, midterms and clubs, it became increasingly difficult to go to all of the Greek events.
I began to feel like the point system was forcing me to be more involved in Greek life at the cost of participating in my other clubs and classes. One day, as I stood in line to pay my entrance fee to a fraternity’s philanthropy event, I turned to my friend and said, “Don’t you think it’s a bit ridiculous that we have to spend our time and money going to these events in order to get points for a party that we are paying for?”
She laughed and responded, “Of course it’s ridiculous, but you want to go to invite this semester, don’t you?”
I shrugged without responding. Regardless of whether or not I earned enough points to attend my sorority’s party event, my membership fees were going toward funding the party, as was every other member’s. It felt odd that throughout my membership in my sorority, despite paying my dues, I was constantly having to earn my way to events.
A week before invite that semester, my friends and I had already bought our outfits and invited our dates and were excitedly talking about the upcoming night. Our fourth roommate entered the room and said to me softly, “You should check the points document because I don’t think you have enough to go to invite.”
My stomach sank as I hurried to open my laptop and loaded the points document. I didn’t have enough to go.
The night of invite, I dressed up, took pictures with my friends and then spent the rest of the night watching invite through Snapchats instead of dancing on the boat with my sorority sisters.
My workload that semester had been more than overwhelming, and I was running tight on money, so attending every Greek event wasn’t realistic. Additionally, I hadn’t been excused for missing our sorority’s weekly meeting because I had missed them to study, which didn’t count as an acceptable excuse.
I felt as though members who had greater amounts of time and money to put into Greek life were more highly valued than those who didn’t. These kinds of rules make sororities financially inaccessible, and I felt restricted from branching out by taking more classes or participating in outside clubs, sports and activities.
Felicia Sharpe writes the Thursday blog on being an ex-sorority member. Contact her at [email protected].