Sororities in America: The Raw & Real


Art Credits to Camille Xu ’24!

Sumedha Maddali '24

Are American sororities really all that social media depicts them as? Imagine walking into your first day of college and being welcomed by a group of young, powerful women, conveniently living in a glamorous mansion. A promising future carefully curated for you, and the opportunity to find not just a community, or a clique, but your own sisters, for whom you would be willing to sacrifice nothing less than your own life. And once you receive the privilege of a new family (juxtaposingly backed by money in order to “buy” those friends), you get to attend wild frat parties, all while being a part of a secret society (humans often feel superiority when they become part of something exclusive).

But the real story lies in situations when they’re not all rainbows and butterflies. Is there a darker side? 

It is evident from waves of news that sororities, and Greek life in general, utilize problematic practices such as hazing, exclusivity, bullying all in the act of creating highly disruptive and distressing social hierarchies. In addition, sororities are commonly known to not garner inclusivity as most are comprised of white, straight women.  The extremities students go through in order to fit into the highest ranked sororities are abhorrent, including extreme hazing, anonymous gossip websites, and bullying. This article will address just a few of these events around the country, in which universities and students alike had to encounter such terrifying situations.

Disclaimer: Not all sororities condone or encourage hazing, bullying or any practice that induces embarrassment or harassment to its pledges and members. 

University of California at Berkeley: 

In 2012, a woman named Brittney Starling sued the sorority Zeta Phi Beta after claiming that they had hazed her during her pledge week. She was allegedly forced to stand for hours and was beaten with books, severely injuring her. Starling was also forced to act as a “garbage can” for the other girls and clean the floor with her back. Her complaints did nothing to change sorority policies in order to make them safer for future pledges and members. Instead, the college merely stopped recognizing the sorority. 

Rutgers University (Certainly Hits Close to Home):

In 2010, a sorority pledge had to be admitted into a hospital after being injured as a result of being hit with paddles. Repulsively and unfortunately, the sorority voiced their “innocence” and made statements suggesting no events as such had occurred. A friend of some of the sorority sisters claimed that they were more “upset” by the fact that the girl had complained about the incident rather than the incident itself. 

California State University, Los Angeles: 

This incident was just one of the many unreported deadly cold cases relating to sororities, which unfortunately did not yield any real justice for the two women, Kenitha Saafir and Kristen High, who passed away. During their pledge week, they were forced to do intense exercise for hours and then walk backwards into the ocean. One of the two women, Saafir, was swept up by a wave, and knowing Saafir couldn’t swim, High jumped in the water to save her. Both drowned on site.[1]. Although the police could not directly connect the sorority with the crime, one of the women’s mother claimed that her daughter was constantly stressed throughout pledge week and was not acting like her normal self, coming back late at night and exhausted. She also claimed that the diary her daughter had kept on a daily basis had a few pages torn out the next day, which were never found. Certain phone calls and voicemail messages were also deleted by some of the sorority sisters [2]. 

These terrifying incidents are just three of the hundreds of stories shared through multiple platforms. They are extensive proof that everything is glorified on social media, and may not always be the raw truth. It is crucial to acknowledge and fight these issues in the world today. 

I hope this article serves as a reminder to everyone reading to stay kind always. Let’s start fighting the systematic bullying in America that starts from extremely young ages. Let’s start advocating for the ones who have suffered and worse, have encountered death from incidents such as the one above. [1] [2]