Written By: Allie Tookmanian

Sometimes, I find myself reluctant to pronounce myself a sorority woman. I don’t divulge this part of my identity because I know the label people will attach to my character and I dislike being associated with the frivolous antics displayed in the media of what the world imagines “sorority girls” to be. This is the very reason why those citing fraternity and sorority life as an inspiring or life-changing experience need to share this other side of the stereotype and why we should be investing more in our lifetime membership.

As yet another school year rolls around, I find myself reflecting on my college experience and everything I will miss when I don’t drive back to campus. While I won’t miss the cafeteria food, I know I’ll miss the learning environment I had as a Greek student. While I am a woman with many unique experiences that empower me to be the best version of myself and to continue challenging who that person really is, I can’t help feeling that my membership in a sorority was one of these experiences that was a crucial developmental milestone in my life. Through my membership, I was given the opportunity to engage with women, advisors, and mentors that broke down my pre-existing perspectives while inspiring me to inspire the world around me. They showed me that our world needs inspiration and I was capable of creating it while simultaneously encouraging me to reach higher for my dreams. This was the best part of my sorority experience and I am extremely grateful for it.

I learned that Greek life is a microcosm with great potential, and through working to influence this community for the better, I decided to dedicate more of my life towards making the world a better place. I met peers who could challenge my ideas of #AllLivesMatter and understand the call for #BlackLivesMatter and others who taught me more about feminism through their actions and healthy debates than any class I took in college. I founded organizations in hopes of bettering my campus to be more LGBT+ inclusive because the people I looked up to in the Greek community told me that my passion for inclusive leadership is valid and attainable, even when some of my fellow undergraduates wouldn’t listen to me.

I say all this to strengthen the call for fraternity and sorority life. It breeds people who are influencers and challengers, which makes investing in Greek life an investment in the future of the world around us. We can no longer afford to let this much potential slip through our fingers. Without my sorority experience, which luckily included plenty of investment in my ideas, thoughts and passions, I wouldn’t strive for leadership, have a vision for the world I would like to live in, or motivation to keep moving toward that vision. The production of strong Greek students with personal values and mindsets that can change the world requires a community to believe that they are worth more than the price tag society gives them.

Investing in Greek life is not foolish, because it makes our community stronger when advisors hold us accountable for our mistakes and empower us to be better leaders and a productive part of our greater communities. With this guidance, we can be a positive influence, and without it we tend to follow the media’s depictions of ourselves because no one believes we can achieve higher standards. If we dismiss Greek life as a social excuse disguised by buzzwords like philanthropy, values, and leadership, we do a disservice to all the men and women who joined a chapter to be part of something bigger and be inspired to live a more purposeful life. If we do not empower, inspire, and invest in these students, “sorority girls” will always shine brighter than sorority women.

Allie is a 2016 graduate of Lehigh University and a proud member of Kappa Alpha Theta. She is interning with LaunchPoint this summer to help promote the positive message of fraternity and sorority life and the impact that her membership has had on her own personal and professional development.