The hidden world of South Asian sorority life

Monday, November 30, 2020 - 8:47pm

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I am a sorority girl, but not in the way they are typically portrayed: skinny, blonde and white. I am none of those, yet I am still in a sorority. This type of sorority often gets lost in the great umbrella of Fraternity and Sorority Life; I myself didn’t realize a space like this existed until later into my freshman year, eventually joining during the first semester of my sophomore year.

South Asian Fraternity and Sorority Life has been around since the late twentieth century. Spanning multiple fraternities and sororities all across the country, this community is niche in that you usually don’t know about it until you stumble across it. In this sense, I truly believe that South Asian sorority life has gone underappreciated, particularly on our campus.

Dec. 7, 2020 will mark one year since I crossed into Sigma Sigma Rho Sorority, Inc., a South Asian values-based sorority founded on the principles of Sisterhood, Society and Remembrance and committed to its national philanthropy of Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention. As I get closer and closer to my first “Sigmaversary,” I’ve been reflecting on just how integral this organization has been to my college life in such a short span of time. Organizations like ours that are a part of the Multicultural Greek Council are rooted in tradition, yet innovative and evolving with the times. We commit ourselves to our philanthropy and service initiatives, and present a united front to represent not just our organization but our cultural values in the context of an ever-changing world.

 Joining Sigma Sigma Rho pushed me to my limits. It has challenged me in ways my other organizations have not, and the rewards have been like no other. As a solo (the only member of my class), I’ve gained a newfound appreciation for my ability to independently tackle challenges and follow through with my commitments. Joining this organization instilled in me the values of dedication and loyalty not only to the sisterhood but to myself as well.

My journey throughout the past year, though significantly impacted by the pandemic, has been rewarding nonetheless. In January, I had my new member presentation, which is one’s official reveal to the rest of the community. That day, I displayed the skills I had learned throughout the past semester and showed the community that I truly did earn my letters. A new member presentation involves the new class standing at the front of a room with their faces masked, presenting the history of their organization and greeting the other organizations that are present. At the end, the members’ identities are revealed to the audience, cementing their place in the multicultural Greek community. This meant that I, a person who’s always shied away from any form of public speaking, stood alone in front of around seventy people and spoke from memory for about half an hour. The event culminated in my Big unmasking me, thus “revealing” me as the newest member of the sorority. I moved through this entire evening on a rush of adrenaline, knowing that I was doing something completely out of my comfort zone but still enjoying it, even excelling at it. 

From that day on, I’ve found a home within my chapter that has been full of nothing but love, acceptance and growth. I’ve learned that having a sister means more than being tied by blood; a true sister is one who is loyal yet leaves room for growth, someone who has your best interests at heart and shares both your joys and your struggles. Having this sisterhood has been the greatest motivation for me in the past year to aim high and make my visions become reality.  I spend a lot of time dreaming about what I want to do, but that dreaming often comes with the feeling that maybe I can’t accomplish everything I want. Throughout the past year, various opportunities have popped up that piqued my interest, including writing for Michigan in Color. In the face of all of the talent I saw around me, I sometimes felt like maybe I wouldn’t be good enough to share that same platform. My sisters are also some of my closest friends, and sharing these worries led to meaningful words of encouragement to remind me that I have tangible skills to contribute anywhere I want. Interactions like these have been the extra push I need to pursue opportunities, eventually boosting my own belief in myself. 

On a campus where South Asian student life is extremely vibrant, consisting of multiple types of dance teams and social organizations, finding Sigma Sigma Rho was like unearthing a hidden gem. I thought I had everything I wanted in my other organizations; I found friends and leadership opportunities, so I thought I was set. Adding a sorority onto my already precariously high list of commitments hardly ever crossed my mind. However, meeting the sisters of SSR made me realize that one thing I was lacking, something that I had overlooked throughout my freshman year, was a constant stream of unconditional love and support from a group of resilient women. I needed that set of females constantly pushing me to be the best I could be and reminding me just how much I am capable of to truly start believing that myself.

Fraternity and Sorority Life has always had an interesting reputation throughout the country. I came into college adamantly against any form of it, but that was before I understood that a sorority can be more than just parties and drama. Meeting some of the sisters instilled in me a desire to be a part of this organization and have these people in my corner. When you find the right group of people who lift you up and become your family on campus, you finally have the space to explore your own definition of what it means to be a strong woman and begin growing into that. Finding my Distinguished Sisterhood was the defining moment of my first half of college. As I reach my one year milestone as a sister, I’m appreciative of the growth and confidence I’ve gained as a result of my experiences. My greatest hope is that this organization continues to thrive across the nation as one that is redefining what society knows a sorority to be.