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It’s not what you think: There is a place for everyone in Greek life

Photo contributed by Miami University Panhellenic Association

Dear Abbey,

There are a lot of opinions floating around about Greek life, fraternities, sororities and the conflict surrounding these organizations. People, sometimes including my friends and family, make jokes about sorority girls and being Greek, mocking the hand signs and our songs and chants.

These people that mock our organizations have probably never been a part of something quite like a fraternity or sorority, so I'm here to set the record straight.

I am a sorority woman. I went through a tiring and confusing two-week process known as recruitment when I was a freshman, and on an overwhelming Sunday known as Bid Day, I suddenly had 200 girls who all wanted to be my friend.

Two hundred girls who all wore the same letters, who sang the same songs, who were all completely different but somehow completely similar welcomed me into a sisterhood that would be mine for the rest of my life.

This system can seem strange from the outside, and honestly it can feel strange on the inside, too. Some girls, and I assume guys, had that feeling of belonging right away from the first round of recruitment. I didn't have this experience. My entire recruitment process left me confused. I wondered at every turn which sisterhood was the best one for me, and if I was letting my friends' choices cloud my own judgment.

On Bid Day, I was excited about my sorority but still apprehensive about whether or not being a member would be everything I imagined it would be. The overwhelming atmosphere of Millet Hall crowded with thousands of sorority girls didn't help ease the knots in my stomach.

However, over the next few weeks, I experienced something I will never forget. Girls who I had never met were inviting me out to dinner or to King for a study group followed by a late-night snacking fest. I got my "big," and the rest of extended family inside my sorority. Family dinners became a regular event, as did spending time with all of my sisters.

All of my first semester at Miami, I kept extremely busy. I had an on-campus job, I went to my classes and I worked hard. When I had free time that usually meant going to the gym, studying or napping. Being so busy wasn't a bad thing, but it did prevent me from making close friends that semester. Sure, I had friends in my classes and at work, but I didn't have the friends I could call in the middle of the night to watch Mean Girls.

Some might say that joining a sorority is paying for friends, but I disagree. We pay for our T-shirts and our formals and our pins, but those aren't the things that make friendships. My sisters became my friends through movie nights in our suite and dinners at Armstrong.

As I adjusted to Greek life, I became more and more used to the idea these girls weren't faking their sincerity and friendliness to me; they genuinely wanted to know me and help me in any way possible. I realized that any of my 200 sisters would bring me soup if I was sick or watch bad romantic comedies with me if I was sad.

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Joining a sorority has been one of the best decisions I have made since coming to Miami. My sisters have encouraged me to be a better person and friend and to become more outgoing.

If I hadn't gone Greek, I would still love Miami. I would still have made friends through another organization or club, and I would still be invited to parties and dinners with friends. However, I believe that no other organization on campus could give me the feeling of safety and home quite like my sorority does.

So to all of you first-years or sophomores who are contemplating the idea of going Greek: do it. Join whichever fraternity or sorority makes you feel the most comfortable and the most at home. I promise you will find dozens of lifelong friends and four years of great memories along the way.

Greek life may not be the choice everyone makes, but there is a spot for anyone if they choose to be there.