Former sorority members reflect on decisions to step back from Greek life

Shama Gupta, Life and Arts reporter

Walking into yet another weekly sorority chapter meeting last semester, biology freshman Elizabeth Dougherty said she felt a wave of discomfort and estrangement come over her. Per usual, she put on a face different from her own to fit the implicit expectations of the room.

“I had to present myself very properly,” Dougherty said.  “I had to be a different person. Going to chapter (meeting) every week, at least anxiety wise, I would almost dread going in.” 

Eventually, Dougherty said she questioned why she held up an alternate persona and tried to please people in a space where she should feel a sense of sisterhood. While some students choose to spend their four years on the Forty Acres in Greek life, others come to realize that leaving, or “dropping,” their sorority better suits their well-being and mental health. 

Between her other commitments to dance organizations and a heavy course load, Dougherty said she couldn’t invest time into something that didn’t feel natural. 

“There’s definitely a type of person that Greek life is meant for,” Dougherty said. “Honestly, I just wasn’t the right type of person.”

When journalism junior Katie Karp first joined her sorority, she said both she and her parents thought it would be a good way to make friends, especially as an out-of-state student from New York. Familiar with a more diverse city, Karp said the entire rushing process felt like a culture shock, and she felt like some sororities may not have considered her because she was Jewish.  

“Everyone around me had highlighted blonde hair (and) long done nails,” Karp said. “I felt insecure about myself because I wasn’t fitting this beauty standard.”

Additionally, Karp said the combination of forced conformity and expensive dues seemingly limited her college experience, leaving her feeling judged by her so-called sisters. 

“When you do things differently, people will talk about that, whether it’s a good or bad thing,” Karp said. “It’s difficult to live, constantly being talked about.” 

Business freshman Krithika Elango had a similar experience in regards to the time commitment necessary for her sorority. Initially, she joined a South Asian sorority because she hoped there would be comfort and familiarity in having a group of women with the same values and background. 

“(It was) so comfortable compared to the other clubs I’m part of,” Elango said. “There’s a lot of diversity. It’s great, but at the same time, it’s not as comfortable or easy.”

In the end, Elango said the incredible time commitment prompted her to consider dropping her sorority. 

“I didn’t want to spend (that much) time with people that have the exact same values as me, and I didn’t need the structure in my social life,” Elango said. “Also, there is an underlying hatred if you don’t show up to things because you start to get less close with the girls.”

Conversely, business junior Karen Inngais said while she enjoyed her time in her sorority, she eventually felt herself grow out of Greek life and sorority culture. 

“Senior year just tends to revolve around our future and career path,” Innagais said. “There’s not necessarily (time to be worried about) what you are wearing to the date event this week.”

Dougherty said, while difficult, she’s proud of her decision to step back from her sorority as she grew and learned a lot from the process.

“You should be yourself and do what you want,” Dougherty said. “You need to be surrounded by people who accept you. You don’t need to put on a face because honestly, it takes a toll on your mental health.”