Panhellenic sororities should support employed sisters

Rewon Shimray | Cartoonist Photo credit: Rewon Shimray

Walking across campus, you’re sure to spot countless women wearing colorful T-shirts or jerseys with Greek letters plastered across the front. From an outsider’s perspective, Baylor sorority membership seems to consist primarily of themed dances, All-University Sing and a sense of sisterhood; however, behind the catchy slogans, color schemes and somewhat jarring chants are regular students trying to successfully make it to graduation and, for some members, that road is a little less smooth than for others.

It’s common knowledge that sorority membership comes with a heavy cost. Each semester, members must pay dues to participate in their chosen organizations. Between hefty Baylor tuition costs and sorority dues, the only way for some students to successfully finance their tuition and membership is to maintain a job during their college careers. Those who participate in sororities and are employed to support that decision should not be penalized when their work schedule conflicts with their sorority’s events.

Unknown to most outsiders to Greek life, most Baylor Panhellenic sororities have point systems that require members to earn a certain number in order to attend the more fun sorority events. To earn points, members must complete tasks that the organization assigns, clock a number of volunteer hours or attend weekly meetings – some of which may conflict with other obligations. The eight Baylor Panhellenic organizations should be more lenient with members who must remain employed in order to fund their education and memberships. Sororities should offer exemptions or reduced points for work-related absences.

Some of the sororities have stricter policies than others regarding attendance. The National Panhellenic Conference should require a consistent policy across its sororities so that no organization is more or less conducive to student employment and membership than others.

Considering that sorority participation is voluntary, one might suggest that members should act in accordance with the policies of the organization if they want to participate in the fun elements of sorority life, meetings and all. They might argue that if a woman is unwilling or unable to meet the requirements, she should not be allowed to participate in the sorority.

In some instances, strict attendance policies are necessary for an organization’s success and efficient communication. If a member asks to miss a meeting for an insignificant reason or activity, it is reasonable that an exclusive organization like a sorority would sanction such behavior; however, if a member requests to miss a meeting so that she can fund her participation in the organization, she should be permitted to do so.

Sororities promote messages of inclusivity and accessibility, some offering scholarships and grants to members or potential new members. If these are legitimate values of the organizations, their actions should reflect greater understanding toward members who have to work to finance their expenses.