OPINION: Why I went local — sometimes Panhellenic isn’t a fit

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DeCriscio is a junior philosophy major
from Fort Wayne, Indiana.

You’ve probably never heard of my sorority, Psi Lambda Xi. We are the only local sorority on DePauw’s campus, and we were founded in 2007.

We are not part of any national organization. We are non-residential, and we have no governing council. We follow the rules that DePauw places on greek life, but beyond that, everything else is determined by our chapter.

And so, while we are part of the greek community, we are different from the Panhellenic system in a lot of ways, but the most important and significant way is recruitment.

For starters, we don’t participate in formal recruitment. The formal recruitment process was a big turn-off for me when it came to sorority life. I disliked the idea of being paraded around and interviewing to be part of a group. What if they didn’t like the way that I sometimes snort when I laugh?

But, on a more fundamental level, I didn’t like the idea of recruitment when it was compared to romantic relationships. I felt that I would be going on a few speed dates before joining a chapter for life, or conversely, those speed dates were enough make a judgment about who I am and what I could contribute to the hypothetical relationship.

As an upperclassmen, I’ve learned that no one in the Panhellenic system likes recruitment from either side of it. The problem is that they don’t know a better way to meet most of the women in the freshman class to decide if they are the type of woman that they want in their house. And as the president of a small local chapter, sometimes meeting potential new members is a struggle.

By comparison, our recruitment events are things that you would expect to do with your friends like dinner at 2 West, a game night or an ice cream party. Through these events, I became familiar with the women in the chapter and the sorority itself.

There are some really awesome perks of being in a small local sorority, which were all reasons that I wanted to be part of my chapter. I know where every penny of my dues goes. We don’t have to pay the salaries of those who run the national headquarters because we don’t have one. Because we are small, everyone knows everyone else in the chapter extremely well. Our alumnae actively contribute to the sisterhood now. In fact, we have two founders who live within an hour and a half drive from DePauw, and they come back for our events. That being said, our founders are on Facebook, which is unique.

But, that doesn’t mean that Psi Xi is perfect—no chapter is. Not having a nationals to reach out to means that we’re kind of on our own in solving problems. Sure, our alumnae reach out and help, but we’re limited to only a small pool of ideas. We lack the rich history that other chapters have after being around for nearly a century and a half.

Being local doesn’t mean that I dislike the Panhellenic system. I have close friends who are members of the other chapters at DePauw. I don’t think that Psi Xi is better than their chapters. Instead, I think that Psi Xi is a better fit for me.

I always tell my friends that are going through recruitment four things:

First, if you do not absolutely love the house you get into, don’t join. Being a part of that chapter shapes the remainder of your time at DePauw. If it’s not a right fit, then after you join it’s either be unhappy or deactivate, neither of which are good.

With that being said, the second piece of advice I offer is to give your house a chance. You have until initiation to make a permanent decision.

Third, not getting into a house is not the end of the world, though it might seem like it. I spent an extra year as an unaffiliated student, during which I learned what qualities I wanted in a chapter.

Lastly, it doesn’t matter where you end up as long as that chapter’s mission and values match what you believe and you decide whether the time and financial commitment is something that you’re willing to give.