by Tina VanSteenbergen
April is one of my favorite times of year for sororities. My Instagram and Snapchat are flooded with pictures and videos of chapter formals, Greek Life awards banquets, date parties, mixers, study sessions, and sleepovers. The sun is out. The weather is nice (for most of us). And the best part — finals are still a few weeks away!
This seems like the part of the year when we get to sort of “settle-in” to sisterhood.
Take a moment and think about the women in your chapter – the women you’re enjoying being sisters with this month. Think about the groups of friends—pledge classes, family trees, and the women that all take the same classes, or work in the same places. And now, think about the other members. You know the ones. The women who aren’t really connected to their pledge class. The one woman who doesn’t spend a ton of time with her Big. The one(s) who don’t seem to have a group to study or work with.
While many of us bask in the beauty of sorority this time of year, there are surely women in your chapter that are having a very different experience. Maybe the expectations they had about being in this chapter aren’t being met. Maybe there’s some drama with their roommate or sister. Or maybe, and far more likely, they just don’t feel connected to the chapter, or any one person in it. Maybe she doesn’t think that she matters to the chapter. Maybe she doesn’t think she matters to you.
The sisters you’re thinking of right now could be just a short time away from choosing not to be your sisters—to leaving the chapter. But there are simple steps we can take to avoid that end, to make sure that she is included in our Insta posts, our Snaps, and our sisterhood. Retaining and engaging your members can look as simple as…
- Clarifying Expectations: There’s a chance that the sisters in your chapter who you feel are pulling away might be doing so because their expectations aren’t being met. Maybe sorority is more expensive than they were told it is, and they find themselves working extra shifts to pay their dues. Maybe she was told she would have a whole group of new best friends, and no one has reached out to connect to her. Either way, taking the time to talk to her about her expectations might be a quick and simple way to help her reconnect.
- Investing in the Relationship: Connection, friendship, sisterhood don’t happen just because we experienced initiation together—it happens because we take the time to develop a close, meaningful relationship with our sisters. Choosing to reach out to the woman who may be feeling disconnected from the chapter might be the one thing she needs to make the decision to stay!
- Remembering the Ritual: One of the most powerful pieces of sorority is our purpose. When drama, money, or stress leads us to feel like sorority might not be worth it all, prioritizing our values, our principles, and our Ritual can instantly remind us why it is worth it. Facilitating a discussion or a program about our bigger purpose can help remind everyone why they got involved in the first place—and remind them why they should stay.
- Telling her you Care: When was the last time you told someone that they matter to you? When was the last time you were told that you matter? It’s something everyone needs to hear, and yet, something we say so rarely. Take the time, right now, to send this woman a text. Tell her that you care about her, that she matters to you, and tell her why. An intentional compliment only takes a few minutes to craft, but can lead to weeks, months, or even a lifetime of worthiness.
- Helping Her Grow: Sorority was made to help us all become better women! Everyone can learn new things and grow in meaningful ways because of sorority, but that is an easy part to forget about—especially for our older members getting closer to graduation. Asking disconnected members how the chapter and the organization might help them continue to develop and learn new things is an easy way to remind them that it’s worth it to continue to stay involved.
- Repeating These Steps: Retaining and engaging our members is not something we only need to do once a semester or once a year. We need to do it all of the time! Get a group of your chapter sisters together, and spend time once every two weeks brainstorming ways to connect with the women who may be pulling away or falling through the cracks. Then, call them!
We know that people join people, but we have to remember, especially this time of year, that people leave people. More importantly, people stay for people. Be the person that helps someone decide to stay this April. Help them settle-in to sisterhood!