Going Greek at U of T: Sororities

Post written in collaboration with the University of Toronto Panhellenic Association.

Illustration by Mingyu Huang.

Please note that this post focuses on the formal recruitment process.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are that you’ve seen, or at least heard of films likes Sorority Row or The House Bunny that portray sorority life.

Despite what you may have seen in movies though, sorority life isn’t about drama and hooking up with frat boys. Sororities represent multi-national networks of motivated women who are dedicated to the success of one another’s personal, academic and professional endeavours. If you’ve ever considered expanding your university experience in these areas, sororities are definitely worth your time. And who knows? You may just find your next best friends – or ‘sisters’ – in Fratland!

Before we get down to business, a note: the National Panhellenic Conference recognizes seven sororities in Toronto; you can check them all out at http://uoftsororities.com/. Even though all are composed exclusively of young women who are students of its three campuses, the University of Toronto does not officially recognize any individual sorority. Instead, U of T recognizes the University of Toronto Panhellenic Association, which consists of representatives from each sorority. ‘Panhel’ organizes recruitment each year. Check out its Facebook page for more information and updates!

The U of T Panhellenic Association runs one formal recruitment period (PSR –‘ Partially Structured Recruitment’ process) each fall. During PSR, potential members visit all seven houses. Throughout rounds of mutual selection, each woman is matched to the house that is the best fit for her. This is precisely why it’s important for you to be yourself during PSR. After all, the Panhellenic community encourages diversity and endeavours to help its members express THEMSELVES as individuals within a supportive environment!

It’s also important to keep an open mind and to get know the girls of each house. Each one is unique, and you’re likely to find that you gravitate towards some more than others. Throughout the process, members of the Panhellenic Council will be on hand to provide advice and guidance to Potential New Members (PNMs). These young women are referred to as ‘Rho Gammas’ because their sorority affiliations remain anonymous throughout recruitment. The intention of RGs is to support rather than influence your house selection. Regardless of whether you are placed in the same sorority as your RG or not, your relationship will strengthen your network in the broader Panhellenic community.

All U of T sororities encourage members to maintain a balance of academics, community service, and social life. Each sorority is associated with a charitable organization that it supports annually through philanthropic endeavours, such as fundraising events and outreach initiatives. When researching different sororities, make you sure you take this into account as all sororities are deeply committed to their respective causes! Also consider the costs associated with joining a sorority, which might differ slightly amongst the houses. During PSR, each sorority will offer you a detailed breakdown of how much membership costs as well as where your fees will be directed. And if money’s tight, don’t fret – many sororities have financial programs to assist those who may not be able to pay the fees right away. Despite what people may say about sorority fees, you’re not paying for friends – sororities function like business and are responsible for paying fees towards their houses, headquarters, and sisterhood activities.

The girls of Tri-Delta on Bid Day, 2011.

Once you’ve accepted a bid to join a sorority, you will enter the new member education period. During this time, you’ll learn about your sorority’s values, histories, and traditions, as well as get to know the other girls in your member class. ‘Hazing’ (basically anything that a person is forced to do to during initiation that makes her feel comfortable) is forbidden. The Panhellenic Council of U of T, as well as the Headquarters of each house, strictly regulate the behaviour of all members, particularly during recruitment. The purpose of sororities is to encourage, rather than compromise, the values and integrity of its members.

Sororities provide members with the opportunity to enjoy a well-rounded university experience that includes everything from volunteer positions to social events to weekly study group sessions. Through participation in these and other activities, members develop lifelong friendships and leadership skills. On a large campus like U of T, it’s easy to feel as though the number of available extracurricular activities is exhaustive, yet many extracurriculars don’t express as much interest in individual members as do sororities.

Formal recruitment will occur this year from September 13th-16th. For more information regarding the registration process and guidelines, please visit the U of T Sororities Facebook page. The Panhel website will be available soon, following a short period of renovation! If you are unable to attend formal recruitment, keep in mind that most houses also have an informal recruitment period right after formal recruitment in the fall and again in January. During this time, prospective members don’t have to visit every house – they contact the sorority that they want to join directly and it goes from there.

Also, check out this awesome video made by sorority girls at U of T. If the dance at the end doesn’t make you want to at least give sororities a chance, I don’t know what will.:

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