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June 16, 1983 - Image 6

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Michigan Daily, 1983-06-16

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Page 6

The Michigan Daily

Thursday, June 16, 1983

Confessions of a sorority dropout


By Jayne Hendel
It started as a game. I had
done my requisite teen
reading, dozed through the
idyllic T.V. sagas, so clothed
in pure prep, I plunged into
sorority rush.
A million rationales coated
my nonconformist conscience
- I was a transfer student
from a tiny, very liberal-artsy
college in the East feeling
overwhelmed by the Univer-
sity corporation facing me...I
was searching for the
comraderie I had found in my
freshman year housemates,

who ranged from the bulimic
actress to the South American
princess...and, naturally, the
instant social life beckoned to
me. If the country could go
conservative, I guessed I
could plunge into a personal
regression, and be collegiate
from my football tickets to my
penny loafers.
My cynicism dissolved,
however, once the contageous
hysteria of rush parties began.
I was playing for real now, my
competition: the 799 other
"girls" (we were called
"women" in my former
college) I planned to charm
out of the contest.

The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCIII, No. 17-S
93 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by students of
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board
They've landed
T'S THAT TIME of the year again. Time for
hoards of minature students carrying brightly
colored folders, time for naive and confused
questions, time for arrogance by those who
already call Ann Arbor home for at least eight
months of the year.
Incoming freshman, "orientees", descenaea
on town this week and if you thought there were
a lot of them contemplate that a new group this
size will arrive in town every three days for the
remainder of the summer.
It's easy to chide those with their names
marked conspicuously on telltale nametags. To
forget that there was a time when we wondered
what CRISP meant, thought we would never
find our ways back to the dorm, when we first
moved away from home.
Many of these freshmen don't realize what
they have to look forward to, or for that matter
what they have to worry about. Freshman
counseling, roommate problems, and those ever-
present long lines are among the amenities of
life at the 'U'.
So orientees, enjoy the time you have before
September, endure the stiffled laughs of those
who may pass you, and try not to be over-
whelmed by 'the University bureaucracy
around you, Just remember tlat come Fall you
will virtually blend into the 36,000 students who
comprise the University.
For those of you tolerating this University
ritual, grit you teeth (the two months will fly
by), be patient (try not to drive through the
walking tours), and be glad it only happens once
each year. Besides someone has to sit in the
stadium end zone.

With strained smile muscles
and a swollen bladder from too,
many politely accepted cups of
lemonade, I immersed myself in
the mentally draining and
physically exhausting set of rush
My fellow rushees and I
became strained allies rather
than adversaries from the highly
pressured situation - playing
mirror to each other's flawed
make-up in each house while ner-
vously awaiting the cheering
welcome at each sorority and
talking all night about our in-
secure chances of success. None
of us were naive enough to accept
the line that "there's a house for
every girl," we knew it depended
on our appearance and the
quality of our small talk skills.
Three weeks and many blisters
later, it was over. I walked slowly
to the Union to pick up my bid,
confident my strategy had suc-
ceeded, though still uneasy about
becoming a "Susie Sorority." Af-
ter the initial gasp, those of us
deemed for future social success
stifled triumphant expressions in
front of the less fortunate red-
eyed rejects and dreamed of our
first pair of satin monogrammed
From following the conveyor
belt of puckered fraternity lips
leading to my new "home," to
posing for the endless photos, I
smiled a lot and cursed my
decision. I realized how disen-
chanting it was to become a
sister. But optimistically, I

shrugged off my premonition of
failure as beginners' jitters and
wore my pledge pin con-
spicuously, if not proudly.
I resented my pledgehood
treatment. I didn't want to be a
"little sister" once more - I'd
had enough of my real siblings.
The obligatory pseudo-familiar
attitudes disgusted me. I didn't
want to be coddled, simply
respected. But ironically, the
respect of my sisters was reser-
ved for exhibiting the most han-
dsome date or the trendiest out-
The shallowness disturbed me.
Just as clothes, fashions have
retreated to the 50's, Greek life
today imitates the narrow-
mindedness of that era, which
revelled in racism, sexism, and
Today, even equality-minded
women sit in clasped-handed cir-
cles, waiting to see which sister
was pinned by which boyfriend in
which "approved" fraternity.
This seems to be the highpoint of
sorority existance - to set up
one's social security, both for
now and the future.
Beyond the comfort of being in-
stantly classified, I felt angry at
how little my individual per-
sonality mattered. As part of a
group that depends on instant
recognition, I couldn't drop my
personality to merge with the

group. So, I suffered the discom-
fort of not fitting in. But the more
I clashed, the moreI regained my
individuality and self respect.
It was at the final formal fun-
ction where I realized I had to
quit. What boringly false comfort
to be with mirror images of one's
self. Conversation revolved
around the label in one's dress
and how much alcohol (in the ac-
cepted varieties of mixed drinks,
naturally) had been consumed
prior to the event. We were all
playing dress up into
prematured middle-age.
With no imagination and a few
wrinkles added, the evening
could have been 25 years in the
future. We'd be sipping the iden-
tical vodka tonics, and discussing
our daughters' legacies in the
sorority. They fit in so well, we'd
I'm glad I was "Greek" for a
year. Just the switch to three let-
ters from a 10-digit I.D. number
made me feel more human. My
yellow computerized credit card,
however, doesn't pre-judge and
identify me the way those foreign
symbols did. I think I'd rather
be my own number than have my
identity emblazoned in satin on
others' sweatpanted posteriors.
Hendel is a Daily staff repor-




Letters and columns represent the opinions of
the individual author(s) and do not necessarily
reflect the attitudes or beliefs of the Daily.


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