A Letter to Those Who Don’t Wear My Letters

To Whom It May Concern,

I am a Panhellenic woman. I am an active member of a sorority. I was recruited, offered a bid, welcomed on the front lawn of my house on bid night, hugged, embraced, initiated, and given a home. I wear a badge every Monday night and perform my chapter’s secret rituals. I have 150 sisters at SMU, and nearly 200,000 sisters internationally. I am a Panhellenic woman, and my sisters saved my life.

What you need to know about Greek life at Southern Methodist University is that you cannot lump it all together. As an SMU Ambassador, I give the following spiel on every single tour I give on this campus:

SMU Greek life consists of four councils of organizations, along with many professional, religious, service, and honors fraternities that exist outside of the SMU Student Activities office. Those four councils are the Multicultural Greek Council, National Pan-Hellenic Council, Interfraternity Council, and the Panhellenic Council. 35% of undergraduate females are Panhellenic women. 26% of undergraduate males are IFC men. 32 % of all undergraduate students are in either Panhellenic, NPHC, IFC, or MGC organizations.

I am writing this as an initiated member of the Panhellenic community, which consists of the following chapters in alphabetical order: Alpha Chi Omega, Chi Omega, Delta Gamma, Delta Delta Delta, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Pi Beta Phi. This is the community with houses on Daniel and University Avenues, the community that completes formal recruitment the week before the spring semester begins.

My sorority is a sacred and highly important aspect of my life. I do not include its letters here, because my voice is the voice of a Council, not just a chapter. As the Vice President of Public Relations on the eight-woman Panhellenic Council, I will not wear my Greek letters next fall as I disaffiliate from my chapter for a semester, in order to be an unbiased and fair leader of my Greek community. But I want to write of my personal experience as not just a Greek letter-wearing woman, but as a member of the Panhellenic community.panhellenic

Being a member of a Panhellenic sorority has literally saved my life. My first semester of sophomore year, I was ostracized from a group on campus, torn down, and insulted, and the experience left incredibly deep wounds on my heart and in my mind. I began to show serious signs of depression. I sought out counseling help and other resources, none of which helped. I would burst into tears at the library. I would lash out at the people who tried to help. Ultimately, it was my sorority sisters who coaxed me out of my bed, out of the house, and back into the world, breathing the life and the drive to keep living back into me. There were weeks upon weeks when all I wanted to do was stay curled up in my room, and not speak to anyone. My sisters taught me how to love myself again, how to trust again and how to step back into the world on sturdy, less-anxious legs once more. They patched me up.

I am a Panhellenic woman. I have a home where people care about me. I am a part of a community that focuses on building women up, not tearing them down. I cannot speak on behalf of any other council, or any chapter on this campus that is not under the Panhellenic umbrella, but I know that each Panhellenic chapter wants, above all, to foster sisterhood and growth. Without my sisters, I am less loving, less learned, less laborious, less loyal. They make me so, so much more.

In the event that you see any activity that you believe may violate SMU’s policies (including hazing and illegal recruiting) from any Greek organization, please contact the IFC and Panhellenic Council advisor, Ashley Fitzpatrick, at 214-768-4192, or the Student Conduct & Community Standards Office at 214-768-4563.

Blair Katherine Betik
Vice President of Public Relations, Panhellenic Council