The author poses by her sorority’s letters.
Senioritis hits us all, Greek and non-Greek alike. For members of sororities and fraternities, however, the end of senior year is not only the end of our undergraduate academic careers, but also the end of our undergraduate membership. It is a transition of conflicting emotions — we’re excited to graduate, to stop paying dues, to have our free time back in our control, yet we’re also leaving behind a group of men or women who share with us the letters that have likely defined much of our college career.
For those who have held executive board positions in the chapter, the transition can be even more jarring. After having spent more than two years of my four as a member on my chapter’s executive board, I finally sat down with my presidential successor, Christina, over salads at Panera last week. At first, I was excited to pull out the (enormous) three-ringed binder that is supposed to hold everything she’ll ever need in order to run our organization. As I flipped through it with her, however, I began to realize just how much of what I knew wasn’t enumerated on those pieces of laminated paper. I began to panic.
All of the things I had learned over four years as a sister of Sigma Delta Tau couldn’t possibly be crammed into that binder. What if something disastrous happened next semester when I wasn’t around to control the situation? She didn’t know the right things to say or do when approached by the Panhellenic judiciary board, she didn’t know what constituted as an “illegal mixer” and what was merely “hanging out,” and there was so much more. My other senior friends began to joke that maybe I should hold on just a little longer, stay in office another semester. It had nothing to do with the capabilities of the incoming president, but everything to do with our feelings of superiority over the younger women in our chapter.
Sisters raise the Sigma Delta Tau hand sign.
I glanced across the table at Christina, who was dutifully writing notes in her planner as I rambled away. Her intense concentration reminded me of when I sat with past president, Maddie, a year before and I first received that binder myself. Maddie had trusted that I, and the rest of the women in my chapter, could continue on without her guidance, just as presidents had trusted others to do annually for over 25 years in our chapter. It’s time for me to let go of the control, and trust that the 65 undergraduate women that the graduating seniors and I are leaving behind are more than ready to continue the traditions that we all value so highly. It’s time for us to move on and join the hundreds of accomplished alumnae of our sorority.
Many chapters have rituals or ceremonies to “send off” their seniors with promises to remember each other, and promises to come back to visit. We laugh, we cry, we receive and give gifts, and read off senior wills like we’re dying. We paint our letters on our graduation caps or wear them around our shoulders as we process to Pomp and Circumstance. Perhaps, sometimes, we lose sight of the fact that when we were initiated, we took oaths for life. Perhaps, we need to be reminded that we are continuing into our adult lives privileged to be a part of something greater, and that we will always be sisters.
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