Pride. Honor. Pain. Happiness. Hope. Sadness. Longing. Anger. Anticipation. Comfort. Gratitude. Joy. Regret. Nostalgia.
It was quite an emotional weekend for me. If you've known me for a while you would know that in college I was a member of a sorority that I loved. I lived, worked, breathed and bled for my chapter and would do almost anything for it. I LOVED having a group of girls to hang out with, to cry with, to volunteer with, to have a cause to fight for with, to walk to class with, to ditch class with, to eat with, to sleep with, to share traditions with, to laugh with, to be serious with and to support and be supported.
Funny how a few people making a few bad decisions can affect so many people...
A few weeks into my senior year of college, the decision was made by national council to close my chapter. I was so hurt. I was so angry. How could the people who I called my sisters continually make bad decisions that would lead to the closing of our chapter? Why I couldn't stand up to them or confront them about their choices? Why weren't my sisters acting in the best interest of the fraternity and thinking about the consequences of their actions? Why didn't anyone else stand up to them or confront them about their choices? Why did so many people think that these bad decisions were good ones? Why couldn't I have done something to save it...
In the end I think closing the chapter was the best decision. The chapter in general was going in the wrong direction, good members were dropping out because of the actions of other girls and greek life in general on campus had a bad image.
Fast forward 2 years. I got a letter in the mail from national council saying that they were re-opening the chapter and would be doing recruitment during the fall semester. Hooray! We were told when the chapter closed that we would have the opportunity to be involved with the recolinization of the chapter when the time came and I wanted to be first in line to sign up to help in any way that I could. Most of me was excited, but part of me was nervous... there was a chance that I would have to face some of the girls that made those poor choices as well as some of the girls who intentionally excluded me from unofficial activities after (and sometimes even before) the chapter closed. I think some people thought I told on them and had gotten them in trouble and others thought that I was trying to take over the President's role... none of which was true... but I felt tared and feathered anyway. It took a few weeks for me to gather enough strength to put myself in a situation where I might be talked about, ignored, judged and left out; I just had to remind myself that I wanted to be involved because I supported what the sorority could be and what the sorority was supposed to be and that was more important than anyone's opinion of me.
There was only one person at the planning meeting from when the chapter closed and I was relieved. I liked this person! I did feel good that I had worked through some of my issues with the past and feel (even now) that I would be fine in any situation where those girls would be there.
Since October I have been involved with recruitment, bid day, pledge rituals, philanthropy events, potlucks, chapter meetings and finally (this weekend) INITIATION AND INSTALLATION!!!! It was the sorority experience I didn't know I was missing but still longed for. I finally felt accepted, wanted and needed in that chapter. New members wanted to meet me and learn about the sorority, older alumna wanted to know what I had been up to since the chapter closed and the leadership consultants wanted my input and utilized my experience.
This past weekend I was able to be a part of EACH new member's initiation ceremony. It was so wonderful to see the excitement in their faces as they arrived at the chapter house. I looked on with pride as each girl became an initiated member of my sorority; as each girl became a new sister. The new members amaze me. It is such a change from when I was in the chapter. These girls are enthusiastic, energetic and so willing to support and help each other in any way possible. They want to learn more, want to be involved more and want to be a part of everything the chapter has to offer. I love it! It is so refreshing to see new life in that chapter and in that house. These girls will certainly take that chapter to new heights.
The most emotional part of the weekend was when the chapter was installed, or "reactivated". The girls received their chapter charter and I couldn't help but cry. To me, a charter is like a name, an identity. It signifies that your chapter is active and in good standing with the national fraternity. Too many times I watched as that charter was taken away from my chapter when girls would make poor decisions and the consequences of those decisions affected us all. I watched as the charter was taken away for the last time when the chapter closed and I feared that it would never hang in that house again. But on Saturday, I watched as the charter was given back to the chapter, as they gave the chapter back its name, its identity.
Later that day we (extension directors, district presidents, alumna, new members and their families) celebrated the initiation and installation of the chapter with a luncheon and gift giving. I had the honor of presenting the chapter with my scrapbook (blank, since the chapter closed before I got the chance to fill it) from when I was chapter historian. I am so proud of our new initiates and am so honored that I was able to play a role in the chapter coming back to campus. I am confident that these women will do great things in the sorority and in life and I look forward to being a part of all that is to come. Congratulations, ladies!