Guest Post: Finding the perfect lock!

This fall marks the 7th anniversary of my freshman year of college. My how time sure does fly! I set off to college unsure of everything other than my very well coordinated bedding. I had talked to my new roommate a few times, and coordinated the necessary agreements (she bought the rug, I bought the mini fridge) and our families met for dinner the night before move in. In the blink of an eye my family left me hours away, and I was left to my own devices.

My school had deferred recruitment that took place at the end of January, and in all honesty I didn’t even think about joining a sorority until January. My fall was filled with new friends, tough classes, and lots of homesickness. I went home for winter break relieved to have some time with my family, although I finally felt like I “fit” at school.

Winter term began, and everyone (male and female) was talking about sorority recruitment. No one in my family had gone Greek, and to say that they were hesitant is the understatement of the century. (Dad may have seen “Animal House” one too many times) But I forged ahead, not knowing what to wear or how to talk or the importance of a good hair straightener. (In retrospect, I wore dorky clothes, talked about weird stuff, and still hadn’t realized the full potential of my hair)

I won’t sugarcoat my recruitment experience as a Potential New Member, because it pretty much stunk. Mostly because I was basing my expectations entirely on what other people were telling me, rather than asking questions of the right people and truly trying to find a place to call home. Luckily, the women of Alpha Chi Omega were persistent despite my hesitation to join their chapter. I am eternally thankful to the women who took the time to get to know me, looked past my dorky clothes and hair, and realized my full potential both within and beyond Alpha Chi Omega.

Here I am (Right) very excited for one of my first "theme" parties freshman year!
A couple years later while serving on my college Panhellenic’s executive board I would attend a national conference and have a speaker discuss the “Lock Key Principle” (I still have the notebook with my notes) What the principle explains is that you shouldn’t have to force yourself to “fit” and if you do, than it’s not the right place for you to be. Every key has a lock, but you have to find the right match to feel “at home” The speaker went on to say that, “Every rejection is a selection” And while my 19 year old self wouldn’t have appreciated that logic, the truth is I wasn’t selected by many chapters, and while it was disheartening to not be wanted by all, I WAS selected by Alpha Chi Omega. Others were selected by Alpha Xi Delta and Sigma Kappa, some by Sigma Sigma Sigma and still some by Alpha Omicron Pi. In the end, we all found the lock to our key.

Bid Day senior year with my New Member class!
I have had an amazing sorority experience, which continues to compound. While in college I served as our VP Recruitment & College Panhellenic Director of Education. Upon graduation I have served as a Recruitment Advisor, I am now a Chapter Advisor and House “Mom” (or House Director if we’re being PC) I also serve as a National Volunteer and have met countless other Alpha Chi Omega’s through twitter, facebook, and the blogosphere. (Who knew?!)

As so many of you prepare for Sorority Recruitment, remember to find the lock to your key. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of the process and what everyone else is saying and doing. Remember to listen to your heart and look for the place that feels most like home to you. Look for other women who share your same values and will help to make you a better, stronger woman. Find the women who will help you to celebrate your victories and divide your sorrows. And most of all soak it all in and enjoy it! This truly is an amazing time in your life, and before you know it you will be crossing the stage collecting your diploma and moving onto the next phase of your sisterhood; which is the most beneficial aspect of your membership: Lifelong Sisterhood. 

P.S. - Since I didn't introduce myself, I'm Lexi and I blog regularly over at {Dishin' With Edna} where I write about just about everything, including my day to day sorority experiences as an alumna of Alpha Chi Omega. 

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The Giving Fraternity

Hello readers, My name is Britain, and I am a fellow Alpha Chi Omega, and  blogger, be sure to check out my blog  Simply Southern Girl by clicking the link!  When Patrice, asked me to guest post, I thought of course! but what shall I post about..

Since Patrice is in the midst of sorority recruitment, I knew I wanted to focus on something greek. The below article was posted on Fraternal Thoughts blog,  I decided I must share it with her readers because  a) I LOVE the Giving Tree.. It is such a wonderful book. b) wish that all Greeks nation wide take a moment to reflect upon their collegiate experience upon reading this article.. c.)  I hope it helps fellow greeks understand that when you graduate from college, while your formal education at your Alma mater  may be over, in regards to fraternity, it ain’t over. Not by a long shot.

So without further a due:

The other night, my son Jack pulled Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree off his shelf. In this tale, a young boy develops a relationship with a large tree, climbing her, playing in her branches, incorporating her into his imaginary stories, and simply resting beside her large trunk. The tree loved the little boy and the boy loved the tree.

As the boy grew, his use for his beloved tree changed. Life circumstances drew him away from the tree, which saddened her. She would wait anxiously for his return, and through the book, we see him come back to her at pivotal times in his life. As a young man, he tells the tree that he needs money. She tells him that she has no money, but he can harvest her apples and sell them, which he does. Later, he returns as a middle-aged man, and tells her that he wants a house. She has no house to give, but encourages him to take her branches to build a house. He does. He comes back to her as an older man, with a desire to go far away from home – to sail somewhere free from problems. She offers her trunk so that he may build a boat, and he takes it. What’s left of the tree is a stump, still firmly rooted in the ground.

Each step along the way, when the boy would return and request more and more from the tree, she was excited to give him what he needed. Each time the boy would take something, the book tells us: “and the tree was happy.”

Many more years pass, and the boy returns as a very old man. The tree is excited to see him, but tells him that she has nothing left to provide – no apples, no branches, and no trunk. All she is, she tells him, is just a stump. The man tells her that he is too old to need anything but a place to rest his weary bones. The tree tells him that a stump is good for resting, and encourages him to come rest on her. He does.

And the tree was happy.

Consider this story as you prepare to leave your undergraduate years. These last few years in the fraternity or sorority were like the years the tree first spent with the little boy. The fraternity was excited to have you. It wanted you to use it for play, to learn critical lessons, to build the story of your life. Likewise, you loved and needed the fraternity. It’s “fruit” were the relationships you built with your brothers and sisters – relationships that became your family. It’s “branches” were the moments it gave you so that you could experience the carpe diem of college life. The “trunk” served as the memories that stay sturdy and strong as the rest of life moves on. The fraternity became a part of your life, and you, a part of hers.

So now you are an alum. Like the boy in the story, you’ll likely return to the fraternity or sorority for different needs as your life pivots and changes. You may ask her for things – and she will graciously give them to you. A fraternity is a selfless giver – always wanting her members to be happy and fulfilled. And we gladly take. We take her fruit, her branches, and her trunk. They help us navigate this crazy, awful, beautiful life. In return, we give her the joy of seeing her members live lives of significance. She doesn’t ask for anything else. But, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t give her more.  We can become the “giving tree” for her.

As an alum, you can give the fraternity the gift of mentorship. You can be a guide and a resource for new members. You can also give the fraternity the gift of your presence by attending national events, serving as an advisor, and contributing as an alumni leader. You can give the fraternity your treasure, donating to educational foundations and house corporations. You can do all of these things, and the fraternity will be better because of them.

But there is a gift even greater. There is a part of the fraternity that we haven’t yet discussed. In The Giving Tree, it’s the stump. It’s the part that is always there even after the rest is taken. It’s our Ritual. Our values. Our codes. Our oaths. Our declarations to be better men and women by living the core values of our fraternities. It was the greatest gift the fraternity gave you, and will continue to give you every day of your life.

And the greatest gift you can give her in return is to live her ritual every day. When you do, you honor her. When you don’t, you slight her.

Remember that your undergraduate years are only the beginning – and not the end. Your fraternity gave you a guide for how to live life to its fullest. When the many twists, turns, and bumps of life come your way, remember this gift. She will be there in the good times and the bad. She can help you build a marriage, raise a family, advance a career, and enhance the world. All you need to provide is integrity – a willingness to stay true to her teachings.

If you do, then your story may read like this:

After many years, the boy returned to the fraternity. She was so excited to see him that she could barely speak. The boy looked at the fraternity and spoke with conviction.
"I return today to thank you and tell you about the life you prepared me for.  You gave so much to me, and I've tried to repay those gifts by living your values."

He continued. "You gave me the confidence to make hard decisions, and through my life I tried to always do what was right. You taught me the power of responsibility, and I was always true in my words and actions. Leadership is another gift you gave me, and because of you, I’ve always stepped forward when needed. You also gave me a chance to serve my fellow man, and I assure you that I haven’t stopped.”
“I stand more proudly because of you. I am kinder to others because you asked me to be. And I am rarely alone thanks to the extended family you helped me find. You gave me all of this, and more.”

“But I’m not sure that I have anything left to give,” the fraternity replied.

“All I want is a chance to read your Ritual once again.” said the boy.

“Then come, rest for a while, and read.” said the fraternity. “There are even more lessons to learn. You are not yet finished with this life; not yet finished giving."

After a while, as the boy set to leave, the fraternity spoke.  “You honor me by giving," she said.  Never stop sharing your unique gifts and my unique teachings with this world. Give. Give. Give.”

And the boy did.
And the fraternity was happy.

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Guest post: Crossing over

This is the first year I will not return to Washington and Lee University. I am now an alumna which means I will no longer practice walking up and down the stairs, leaving enough room for the PNM on my arm to hold onto the handrail or rehearse yelling loud enough to drown out the two "srat" houses on either side of us, "I am a P! I am a P-I! I am a P-I-B-E-T-A-P-H-I!"

Recruitment is a big deal at our small liberal arts school tucked into the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Valley of Virginia. Roughly three out of every four women will go Greek. We run a formal recruitment, meaning we go to the max - we decorate trash cans with bows. We are all Pi Phi all the time.

And it's sad knowing I won't be going back to that, that I won't sit at lunch with my sisters or walk to class with them.

But it is comforting to know that our Greek commitments aren't just for four years, they're for life. I was in a sister's wedding in June. Another just had a baby and has been showered with congratulations from her pledge sisters. And now I am advising a chapter where I get to see them struggle with the same things I did not so long ago.

The experiences we have, the friendships we make and the lessons we learned don't walk across the stage with us at commencement. They live within us and we pass them on.

Recruitment can be stressful, that's for sure - not finding time to do work, heading home past midnight from the house, being surrounded by women 24/7 with seemingly no time for yourself. But keep in mind what is being built. Recruitment is the lifeblood of our organizations. It is the one time of year we get to extend the hand of sisterhood to women who will be by our sides when we face our greatest disappointments and our most profound accomplishments.

And I'd give anything to be back at it.

Stephanie Hardiman is a freelance writer and journalist. She keeps a personal blog of things vaguely related to her life and the media here.

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Guest Post: Sisterhood Everywhere

Hi! I'm Kelly, and I actually do not have a blog, but when I saw Patrice's call on Twitter for guest bloggers I just had to answer it. Talking about my sorority experience is one of my favorite things to do! My collegiate experience is more unique than most. In my second semester at Carnegie Mellon University, I joined a local sorority, Zeta Psi Sigma, through informal recruitment. Originally never intending to join a sorority, at the end of the week I found myself praying and hoping that I would get a phone call on Friday night from one of the sisters, inviting me to the brunch event the next morning. If they invited me to brunch, that must mean that they like me, right? That fall, after 12 years of being the only local sorority on CMU's campus, we made the decision to affiliate with a national organization. Our Panhellenic Council agreed to open the campus for expansion and gave us (most of) the authority to decide which group we'd want to "adopt" us. The semester was filled with research about the remaining National Panhellenic Conference sororities, about everything from their colors to their philanthropic causes to what other schools had chapters. Finally, after four months of research, presentations, discussions, and votes, we chose Alpha Chi Omega. One of the major differences of being in a local sorority is that there wasn't much sense of a lifetime commitment. Sure, our alumnae were informed about what was going on in the chapter, and they were interested in how we were doing, but there was no real opportunity to be “active” in alumnae life. I got my first taste of the lifetime commitment of Alpha Chi Omega when I attended my first national convention in 2006. Hundreds of women, from all regions and of all ages, were gathered together in one location to vote on legislation and gather new ideas to take back to their chapters. It was simply amazing to see all of these women together, and to know that I have sisterhood in common with every one of them. When I was about to graduate and I got job offers in new cities, the first thing I did was email the local alumnae chapter president to ask questions about the area and the alumnae chapter. I decided to take a job in Dallas. I had no family in Dallas or anywhere close to it, and I had never lived so far away from my family. But my Alpha Chi Omega sisters were always there for me and I am forever thankful for that. It made my year there much more bearable when I was painfully homesick. I looked forward to attending alumnae events and chapter meetings at Southern Methodist University. I got to see one of Alpha Chi Omega's biggest philanthropy events, Alpha Chi Couture, which raised over $30,000 for domestic violence awareness that year. When it was my birthday, a sister took me out to dinner so that I wasn't alone. Even though I've moved back home to Pittsburgh, I still keep in touch with my Dallas sisters through Facebook, and I was even able to see a few of them at Convention this past summer. I know that if I ever move to a new city again, the first thing I'll do is connect to the alumnae in the area and build relationships with the amazing women that I am so lucky to call my sisters.

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Rush Week Guest Post #2

I'm Audreya from If You Ask Me. And let me just say upfront that I've never said anything in my life in less than a thousand words, so forgive me if I ramble on! When Patrice first asked if anyone wanted to guest post about their sorority experience, I was reluctant to say "yes". Strictly speaking, I wasn't in a sorority, so would I really have the much to offer? But, in the end, the desire to hear myself talk (or read myself type, I guess) won out and here we are…

The sorority experience itself also started off reluctantly for me. A little background: I attended a small, private university in Arkansas. Our sororities weren't part of the national Greek system, so we referred to them as social clubs. However, aside from a few vocabulary differences, I've found my experience to much the same as that of my Greek friends. I say "pledge". You say "rush". Technically I think we're all supposed to say "induction" or "recruitment", but the gist is the same.

I started college in the fall of 1997. I arrived on campus with preconceived notions about sororities in general and even about each specific club. I'd had friends and relatives attend the same university and tell me "Oh, these girls are snobby", "These girls are dorks", "You should totally pledge this club…" (Note: Our process was flip-flopped from what I understand most to be. We had almost two months of mixers / selection process and then one pledge week, after which we were full-fledged members.) I began attending the open mixers for a number of clubs. I even attended a couple of the invite-only mixers later in the process. Then it was time for the pledges to rank their top choices and the clubs to rank their top pledges. It all got put into a computer and… beep, beep, boop, boop… a bid sheet appeared. Like eHarmony: Sorority Edition. (We also had an "everyone gets a bid" policy. Though the bid might be for a club you ranked very low, you did get a bid and get the opportunity to pledge if you wanted.)

However, after the invite-only round of mixers, I had decided pledging wasn't for me. I wasn't head over heels for any of the clubs. I didn't want to devote that much time to anything. All in all, I thought it seemed unnecessary. I mean, it was a campus of less than 5,000 students. I could make friends on my own, right? Of course, a staggering percentage (80-something, I think) of students participated in social clubs. When you met someone new "What club are you in?" preceded "What is your major?" as an ice breaking question. But, whatever, I was my own woman. I dropped out of the pledge process.

I don't regret that decision. It was right for me at the time. I got involved with a drama group. Declared a major I actually never changed (I'm still waiting for an award for that, by the way!) Made friends in a variety of clubs that I might not have made if I'd been focused on just one particular set of Greek letters. But, most importantly, I had a year to observe. At the end of my freshman year, I realized I that I was going to pledge the following year. Not because I felt like an outcast… I didn't. Not because I had missed out on going to banquets and functions… I didn't. But because I liked the sense of community I had seen amongst each club… and the social club system as a whole. And, the club I knew I wanted to pledge was one of them I hadn't even given a second glance to during the mixers the previous fall. Funny how things works out like that, isn't it?

So, when my sophomore year rolled around, I began the pledge process again. Though I knew many of the girls by then, I wasn't a shoo-in. I visited and sent notes in the mail. I held my breath on bid day. And, when I opened my envelope and saw the logo of a key at the top, I knew I was where I belonged. My social club was called Tri Kappa. For obvious reason, we went by Tri Kappa and not three Ks. And no, no one ever figured out exactly what our founders what thinking with that choice of name, but I assure you it was nothing sinister! We were the Sisters of the Key… the key to everlasting friendship.

"Everlasting friendship" seemed like a corny phrase at the time, but who was I to judge? I was a Class II member, affectionately known as a gopher. I still had to get through pledge week!

I don't know what pledge week / rush week is like now. I know there are all sorts of laws about hazing, forced participation, etc. As there should be. Those laws were around when I pledged, and combined with our campus' strict policies, everyone had a safe experience… but did I have to all sorts of ridiculous / silly / bizarre / early in the morning - late at night things? You betcha. I wore the same pair of black socks for the entire week and wasn’t allowed to wash them. I carried my pledge book with me EVERYWHERE and was only allowed to set it down when specifically told to do so. I wasn't allowed to walk on grass. I memorized countless facts about the club. I searched ALL OVER CAMPUS for the Halsey-Taylor monument only to find out there were about 10 in each building and most people called them water fountains. Nonsensical? Sure. But would I trade it? Not for the world.

My best friend and I pledged together.
When we got our jerseys,
 we were so excited, we shot an entire roll
of film doing weird poses like this.
At the end of the week - "Hell Night", as it was called - we went out to our sponsor's house - in the middle of the woods - and had to recite all the stuff we'd memorized, participate in more silly stunts, etc. At the end of the night, we sat in a circle and were told to close our eyes and remain silent. The President talked about how most of us had done well and would be welcomed into the club, but a few of us just didn't work out. If you felt a tap on your shoulder, you were out (I think Project Runway stole our idea). You were to quietly leave the circle and let the other girls celebrate. When I felt that tap on my shoulder, my heart sank. I fought back tears. What had I done wrong?! But I opened my eyes and began to stand up. That's when I realized everyone else was doing the same. One last joke for the Class I members / scare for the Class II. Behind us stood our Big Sisters with their jersey… ready to hand over to us. We were in! It is still one of my favorite memories ever.

My Big Sis and me at my formal
induction ceremony
I went on to become Historian, Activities Director, Vice-President and President. (And yes, as President, I did the same "fake out" stunt on Hell Night.) I even served as an officer on the Inter-Club Council. Later, people would laugh when I put those skills on my resume, but it was a lot of work and valuable experience. Successfully getting a bunch of boy-crazy, giggly 18 year old college freshman through Pledge Week alive and without any laws being broken? Yeah, that puppy is going on the resume! I found out a lot about myself by being in a sorority. I learned that I make an okay leader. I learned that talking in front of a crowd wouldn't kill me. I now use those skills every single day in my career. But, more importantly, I learned what it meant to have sisters you aren't related to. I made some of the best friends I can imagine. Like Mandy said in her post yesterday, some people say that being a sorority equates to buying your friends. Nothing could be further from the truth. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Sure, you can absolutely have a great college experience if you aren't in a sorority. Sure, it's not for everyone. But for those of us who've done it, it's absolutely something to be proud of. Paying dues might cover some of the administrative costs, but the experiences I had and the friendships I made were priceless.

Sadly, after 50 years, membership dwindled and eventually the club dissolved. Some shiny new clubs had formed on campus. Other larger clubs began taking even more members. My sister was in one of the last pledge class Tri Kappa saw. I'm proud she was able to pledge as my legacy. And that's the thing about legacies… they live on even when the thing that started it all isn't around anymore. Maybe "The Key to Everlasting Friendship" wasn’t so corny after all.

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Guest Post: Rush Week

Hi guys! I am Mandy and I blog over at ...life's about a dream. Somewhere along the line, I found Patrice's blog or she found mine (after three kids, my memory is shot). I once posted about attending an AXO reunion (I am a tad older than Patrice) and she piped up in my comments about being a sister. She did an all call this week for guest posters, especially AXOs, and I jumped.

Come with me as we travel back in time to era of denim and Hammer Pants...


I rushed at Clemson University in August 1994.

I had my wisdom teeth taken out 5 days before I arrived on the Clemson campus.

So basically I still had some swelling and pain during rush.

That's just what someone needs when they have to smile and talk to hundreds of girls they don't know.

There were 600 freshman and sophomore girlsgoing through rush.

Each sorority "party" was in a different location around campus.

Did I mention Clemson has a big campus?

It's August.

In the South.

Which made it HOT.

And I resembled a sweaty chipmunk.

I think I answered the same questions from a zillion girls over and over.

Where are you from?

What's your major?

What dorm are you living in?

I didn't mind; I loved meeting new people. Rush was kind of my thing.

As the week wore on, the 11 sororities were whittled down to two. You then attended the "pref" parties (preference parties) and waited on a bid.

Standing outside of Tillman Hall on Bid Day, waiting to see if you received a bid from the sorority you wanted (or a bid at all) was one of the most nerve wracking things I have ever gone through.

Much to my relief, I had a bid.

Then it was off to the races.

All the rushees ran (literally) to find the spot on campus where their new sisters were waiting for them.

Upon finding my chanting Alpha Chis (A-L-P-H-A C-H-I Omega), I almost tripped down the steps to hug a friend from high school, who was waiting for me. I have such fond memories of being with my AXO sisters, my friends.

To this day, I always hear comments about "buying" your friends when you join a sorority.

But when those friends were in your wedding,

when those friends still meet up with you for football games and mini reunions,

and those friends are still staying in touch with you 15+ years later (thank you very much, Facebook),

then I'd say it was a pretty good investment.

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