Welcome to My Sorority Life: Introduction; my story of being an African American woman in a historically white Greek letter organization. This is the first chapter in my series! Let’s start with the where my interest in sororities began and where it lead me.
NOTE: There are different types of greek organizations (social, business, and interest groups). For the purpose of my story, I am only discussing and/or mentioning social greek organizations.
I remember always seeing classy college girls out shopping in the city; wearing their line jackets or t-shirts with appliqued greek letters on them. While I was out with my Mom, I even saw other girls out with their Moms, both clearly being apart of the same greek organization. Back then, I didn’t know anything about what a legacy was, but I cherished the bond I had with my Mom. I always thought it’d be cool to have this intangible gift to share with a future daughter of mine. I had heard in high school the career benefits of joining a sorority as well as all the good you could do for your community and abroad in terms of philanthropy. I wanted to be a part of that. It was then, that I decided I’d join a sorority once I took off to college.
Little did I know, there was a lot to learn about sororities and joining one.
Researching Greek Life
I always wanted to attend the same college as my parents. Neither of them graduated from the institution. They traded off studies for married life and family instead. Nevertheless, there was something special to me to be able to walk the same halls my parents did. After applying and getting accepted, I took my entire Summer before my first semester to research Greek Life on campus. I was only at the mercy of the Greek Life university web page and YouTube videos, but it was a start. I quickly learned the greek system was relatively divided..and I had to choose where I wanted to be. There are organizations that are historically white, black, asian, hispanic and multi-cultural. However, on my campus there were two options.
PHC Sororities – Panhellenic Conference
There are 26 sororities under the Panhellenic Conference umbrella. In past years, this umbrella group went by the acronym of NPC, however in recent years it has changed on college campuses to show more distinction from other sorority councils. These are the groups you may often hear about in the media and on television. The PHC are known as being “historically white” organizations. During their time of creation, segregation prohibited the integration of non-white members. Today, any woman seeking membership in an NPC sorority, no matter what her race, religion or socioeconomic background is, is allowed to join!
The greek organizations in the NPC are as follows:
- ΑΧΩ Alpha Chi Omega
- ΑΔΠ Alpha Delta Pi
- ΑΕΦ Alpha Epsilon Phi
- ΑΓΔ Alpha Gamma Delta
- ΑΟΠ Alpha Omicron Pi
- ΑΦ Alpha Phi
- ΑΣΤ Alpha Sigma Tau
- ΑΞΔ Alpha Xi Delta
- ΧΩ Chi Omega
- ΔΔΔ Delta Delta Delta
- ΔΓ Delta Gamma
- ΔΦΕ Delta Phi Epsilon
- ΔΖ Delta Zeta
- ΓΦΒ Gamma Phi Beta
- ΚΑΘ Kappa Alpha Theta
- ΚΔ Kappa Delta
- ΚΚΓ Kappa Kappa Gamma
- ΦΜ Phi Mu
- ΦΣΣ Phi Sigma Sigma
- ΠΒΦ Pi Beta Phi
- ΣΔΤ Sigma Delta Tau
- ΣΚ Sigma Kappa
- ΣΣΣ Sigma Sigma Sigma
- ΘΦΑ Theta Phi Alpha
- ΖΤΑ Zeta Tau Alpha
How To Join: I learned potential new members (PNMs) went through what is known as a formal recruitment. You may also have heard this process called “Rush“, but it is an outdated term no longer used/supported by the NPC. Formal recruitment, held in Fall semesters, is a series of meet-and-greets held over a number of days to help both the PNM and the sorority narrow down their selections. During this time, women are granted time to speak to members from all of the sororities participating in formal recruitment. The process is created to match each PNM with a sorority house, so each woman receives a bid, or formal invitation to join a sorority.
This process can take anywhere from as little as three days to as many as ten days, depending on the number of potential new members and NPC sororities participating in that campus’s formal recruitment. [Source]
Note: You are able to participate in Formal Recruitment as a college freshman and newly high school graduating senior if you meet the eligibility requirements.
NPHC Sororities – National Pan-Hellenic Council
There are 9 greek organizations under the National Pan-Hellenic Council umbrella. They are collectively known as the “Divine Nine”. What is unique about this greek council is that it houses both sorority and fraternity organizations. The NPHC are known as being “historically black” organizations. These sororities and fraternities were created for African Americans during a time in which segregation prohibited their membership in other groups, based on their race. Today, any woman seeking membership in an NPHC sorority, no matter what her race, religion or socioeconomic background is, is allowed to join! Under this council, there are four sororities and five fraternities. [Source]
The greek organizations in the NPHC are as follows:
- ΑΦΑ Alpha Phi Alpha
- ΦΒΣ Phi Beta Sigma
- ΚΑΨ Kappa Alpha Psi
- ΩΨΦ Omega Psi Phi
- ΙΦΘ Iota Phi Theta
- ΑΚΑ Alpha Kappa Alpha
- ΔΣΘ Delta Sigma Theta
- ΖΦΒ Zeta Phi Beta
- ΣΓΡ Sigma Gamma Rho
How To Join: The process in joining an NPHC sorority varies greatly from NPC. With this process, you are able to gain information about membership through Interest Meetings individually held by each organization. It is best to decide which organization you’d like to seek membership in first, and then follow through with that specific group’s Interest Meeting attendance. It is frowned upon in the black greek community to “show interest” in more than one organization at a time. [Source]
Once your application process and interview are complete (and approved), you are formally invited to partake in the membership intake process for that sorority. This process is often called “being on line” and can last 6-8 weeks.
Note: You are only able to participate in the Membership Intake Process as a college sophomore. Having a minimum number of college credit hours prior to your application is a requirement.
Overall, it was a lot of information to digest, but I did my best to learn about each conference/council. I noticed there was very little (if any) information available for NPHC organizations on my university’s website. Once my first semester got started and I attended back-to-school fairs for college freshman, I noticed a real absence of NPHC presence. I was convinced that BGLO (Black Greek Letter organizations) were not present on my campus, thus I pursued PHC sorority membership. Information was plentiful and the PHC’s presence on campus for information was always available. So, the journey began!