As I stood in front of the doors to Campus Center Ballroom A (with two balloons in hand) and listened to the cheers coming from inside, I felt nervous. A minute later, the doors opened and I walked in to reveal my new allegiance to the room full of waiting women.
For most of my life, I have been skeptical of Greek life. My judgment was influenced by popular television shows that only portray sleazy parties, ruthless hazing and harebrained women thoughtlessly backstabbing one another.
For every other nonbeliever, I have no doubt that the same beliefs hold true.
Yet as a commuter, I realized that the best way to become involved here was to attend Greek events.
After much deliberation, I decided to go through formal sorority recruitment. Yet as a skeptic, it was my goal to find out what Greek life is really like.
The first night of recruitment brought me back to campus last Friday for orientation night, where the women were split into groups of 10.
Each group was assigned two sorority recruitment counselors known as Sigma Rho Chis who briefly disaffiliated from their sororities to guide us through the weekend with unbiased support.
Friday night marked the true beginning of sorority recruitment with open houses for each organization.
My group first went to see Alpha Omicron Pi, who greeted us with a song.
We were ushered in the room by the members and split into groups of two or three so we could get to know one another. After a few minutes a new woman took the place of the previous one.
The cycle of question and answer continued for half an hour, after which the members again sang to us in farewell. When I left, it felt like I had just been speed dating.
Next we headed to the open house for Phi Sigma Sigma. We were again greeted with song before each being escorted in by a member.
The members taught us about the sorority using information boards. When the event drew to a close, our group was again serenaded as we were escorted out.
We visited Iota Delta next, where members talked to us in pairs and rotated a new member into the pair every few minutes.
The last open house was for Sigma Kappa, where we watched a video and split for conversation with a member.
Every sorority was welcoming, and I left campus feeling rather confused.
Saturday brought the second round of parties with each sorority, which lasted 45 minutes and involved activities relative to each sorority’s philanthropy.
My group began the day with a visit to Phi Sigma Sigma, where we met in large groups and created door hangers for patients in a children’s hospital. A few members rotated tables every few minutes to give us the opportunity to meet them all.
The time passed quickly, and I did not want to leave when the event came to an end.
Our next stop, Iota Delta, had several philanthropy activities. I settled in at the bracelet-making table and talked to a few members.
After Iota Delta, we spent time with Sigma Kappa and later with Alpha Omicron Pi, where I made flower pens and played carnival games while talking to members.
On Sunday morning I received invites to preference parties from Phi Sigma Sigma, Iota Delta and Alpha Omicron Pi.
I cannot explain the details of the preference parties, because each involved a private ritual and personal stories; however, every one was an emotional bonding experience.
When I left Phi Sigma Sigma’s party, I was still wiping tears from my eyes. I knew my decision had been made.
After the parties we signed the Membership Recruitment Acceptance Binding Agreement. The terms of the contract were hard to understand for many women, but I had no hesitation in signing.
That evening, a huge smile spread across my face as I accepted my bid and the blue and gold balloons.
Moments later, I entered Ballroom A and members of Phi Sigma Sigma rushed forward to welcome me to the family. In the course of three days, I was transformed from a skeptic of Greek life to a sorority pledge.
In some ways, sororities are exactly what you think: women in matching sweaters are seen together on campus, and yes, they do have their own cheers.
However, there is much more to Greek life than the entertainment industry shows.
There is a bond of sisterhood and acceptance that I never thought could exist in a large group of women.
The Greek life may not be for everyone, but it is not specific to one type of person, and it does not create cookie-cutter members. I have seen firsthand how it can create stronger individuals within an organization and am grateful to be a part of that.
Lauren Creiman, a freshman journalism major, is ULV Life editor of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.