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Impressions Are Always the Strongest Impressions It was a warm, August day as I walked down the paved sidewalk of Olympic Boulevard in Statesboro, Georgia. You could hear the heart beat of over 400 girls that surrounded me on all sides. Each one of us was feeling a wonderful mix of excitement, anxiety, and nausea. This setting is known as National Pan-Hellenic Sorority Fall Recruitment, or “rush week”. Girls, including myself, have prepared for this day for a little over 4 months by getting recommendation letters and the perfect outfit ready. It is described by some as the best week of your life that you will never want to repeat again. The first house I entered was that of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Kappa Kappa Gamma: A History Kappa Kappa Gamma, or KKG, is one of the oldest sororities. It was founded at Monmouth College in 1870 by six founding women. It is based on the ideals of leadership, scholarship, and friendship. KKG represents “Reading is Fundamental” as a national philanthropy along with the “Kappa Kappa Gamma Foundation” which supports sisters helping other sisters. The national symbols include an owl as the mascot, a golden key as our badge, and a fleur-de-lis as our flower, but the blue iris is used in setting because the fleur-de-lis is not an actually growing flower. Our colors are light blue and dark blue and our sorority jewel is the beautiful sapphire which our spring formal, The Sapphire Ball, is named after. Now days, Kappa
Gates 2 Kappa Gamma proudly represents 138 collegiate chapters with over 240,000 woman and 307 alumnae associations (Kappa Kappa Gamma Headquarters). The Subculture of Kappa Kappa Gamma Zeta Upsilon Chapter As I walked into this house I was greeted with a screaming chant that was fueled by over 100 ladies with perfect hair and makeup. As a fresh high school graduate, this site can be a very startling one to be the first impression you get of a college. Once the song was over, the ladies led us into a large open room, called the chapter room, and proceeded to have a thirty minute conversation with us. It only took this one chat to realize that I had found my new home. The Zeta Upsilon (referred to as “ZY” in common print) Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma can in many way be considered a subculture of Georgia Southern University. Each member shares a level of commitment to the organization that allows it to influence their every day patterns. Being a ZY manipulates where woman end up shopping for clothes, going out to party, and even their collection of belongings. Also, each member holds a new identity to themselves that resembles their other sisters. It is exclusive in the fact that only 11 percent of students at Georgia Southern are part of Greek Life and within those 11 percent, only 125 have the privilege of being a KKG. We are also a very distinct group of women. Our secret ritual, with the special teachings of KKG procedures learned after initiation, are known by every Kappa Kappa Gamma member through out the United States and Canada. This connects us in an extraordinary bond that no one can experience from the outside. Lastly, Zeta Upsilon can be viewed a subculture thanks to our internal governing. Within the chapter, members are elected into numerous council positions to help lead the affiliates of ZY, in regards to Headquarters and not mainstream, ruling. The behavior of each and every one of our girls is also matchless. Upon
Gates 3 receiving the gift to be associated with the letters and sisterhood of Kappa Kappa Gamma, each member is then tied to one another to always help and love (Conway). How I See It: My Research Position The reason I am so knowledgeable about the subculture of Kappa Kappa Gamma is because I am an active member and have been since my pledge period and initiation of fall 2010. Besides being a normal, active member I have engaged in many leadership roles within in the chapter including: Event Chairman, Sheet Sign Chairman, Assistant Philanthropy Chairman, Standards Committee, and Pi Chi. Holding these positions and being active in other various events such as intramural sports, homecoming and philanthropy events, and living in the Kappa Kappa Gamma house has allowed me to truly see KKG in all aspects. Major Question One of the first major questions I had when I decided to use my sorority as my research topic was how our group functions as such a close net group just by signing a bid card. I know the minute I was accepted after rush week, I walked out of the Kappa house that afternoon with three new phone numbers and a lunch date for the following day. How can just simply walking into a house with a desire to be part of something all of a sudden mean that your whole life is changed. This is something that I had really never given much thought too. Whether I had taken it for granted, or just not wanted to understand the process because it is always said, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth”, it seemed every sorority woman went through the same mental thinking. I was also intrigued by the social connections made by joining a sorority not just with other members within our chapter but with alumni and sisters around the nation. A woman that I have neither met before, nor helped out before is willing to extend a hand and go out of her way
Gates 4 to assist me just because the letters on the back of my car resemble hers? This phenomenon was a little too crazy if you ask me. The Facts behind the Sisterhood: To begin to understand the subculture of Kappa Kappa Gamma at Georgia Southern, I started with some research. In the parlor of the KKG house one can find numerous books and magazines about the sorority and even specific information on the chapter. One book titled, 2,000 History: Kappa Kappa Gamma Through Out the Years, explains the Kappa years from the very beginning to 2000, with this specific book being the most updated history book in print. This book, like many others, begins with how Kappa was founded and states the concretes of symbols and insignia. The book also goes over the leadership and founding of the chapter along with how it developed into the sisterhood we know today (Tessier). Having an actually print copy of facts on display in the first room people see when entering the KKG house just proves how close our sisterhood is and how we value the facts and events that make our organization what it is today. Also, KKG is a proud publisher of a magazine titled, The Key, after one of our symbols. The Key is the first college woman’s fraternity magazine published continuously since 1882. The Key represent every chapter, but not on a national level. It is split into several parts. The first section covers fraternity news as a whole. This one section is the only part that is from the national level. The second part focuses on members and alumni who have passed away. Thirdly, Kappa Kappa Gamma posts any philanthropic news to keep all member updated on the foundation. Also, another section states about any alumni who made an extraordinary achievement. Lastly and largely, the collegiate section covers a multitude of chapters who have done any sisterhoods, fundraising, or recruitment events. Chapters and individual members can send
Gates 5 in photos of them alone or with other sisters to update other chapters on what is happening around the nation (Styers). Our Sisterhood is not a Destination but a Journey “Sisterhood is many things. It's a warm smile on a cold and rainy day, a friendly hug, a cheerful hello... It's all that a good and lasting friendship is, only better. It's treasured. It's sacred. It's knowing that there will always be someone there for you. It's dreams shared, and goals achieved. It's counting on others and being counted on. It is real." – A PHA Member Though having numerous websites, books, and a magazine is great when trying to understand the bond of sorority woman through a national standpoint, it still didn’t explain how woman on Georgia Southern’s campus can be seen as a subculture just by being in Kappa Kappa Gamma. So I decided to use the research field of a typical school week in the life of a member. Fortunately, my roommate and best friend, Kirsten Fisher, allowed me to follow her around. Just like any other American citizen our week begins on a Sunday. Kirsten is on Council which is an elected board of officials in Kappa. The meetings take place every Sunday at 6:30 pm which are mandatory. After she is done with these meeting it is straight to the library to finish up some weekend homework and get a head start on the work for the upcoming week as well. Being in a sorority, I can say for the most part, has made me despise doing activities alone. Thankfully, many other members in our sorority feel the same way. We all meet in the same location at the library to do our homework and complete our required weekly study hours. As far as Mondays go the first thing on Kirsten’s agenda is class. As a Greek lady we wake up at least thirty minutes to an hour before class to do our hair and make up. Our clothes normally consist of a large t-shirt with either our letters or fraternity letters on it and a pair of Nike shorts or leggings considering the weather. A pair of rainbows or Nike shoes can be worn as well. For a jacket, a Patagonia or a
Gates 6 NorthFace is acceptable. There are no bi-laws or regulations on clothing it is just considered “the norm” for us Greeks to wear the same thing. We do this not only to spot other Greek students, but to separate us from those who are not. After classes are done, we attend Monday night chapter. The whole chapter is required to attend this meeting as our weekly announcements are made. Business casual dress is a must. Tuesday consists of class and our weekly dinners at night along with committee meetings. Wednesday nights include our sisterhood Bunco Nights, but some weeks our sisterhood gatherings are replaced with socials along side the company of fraternities. And of course, Thursday night starts the weekend with a mix of trips to the bars and fraternity parties. Saturday is normally spent doing philanthropic events or other projects since we don’t have to attend class. Sunday the whole process starts over. When each lady spends so much of her time focusing on the same things and participating in the same events, its no wonder we start to look and sounds alike. Joining a sorority truly does consume your life. I once asked Kirsten if she ever regretted her decision. Her response was priceless. “Kappa Kappa Gamma has by far been the best thing to ever happen to me. While packing for college, I was so nervous that I wouldn’t have any friends and I should of just stayed at home and went to the small community college like all my high school friends. I was convinced by my mother, who was never Greek herself, to sign up for sorority recruitment thanks to a flyer we got sent in the mail by Georgia Southern. I was still nervous though because I didn’t make really any new friends in my Pi Chi group like the other girls. Yet once I got Kappa a ton of new faces couldn’t wait to say “Hi” and learn my name. I found the close net friendships I had unwillingly left back home in my small
Gates 7 town. It took only until the first bid night party to realize our sisters were the right choice. Plus, through the almost two years we have been members nothing has made me regret joining. The more I get to know other sororities the more fond I grow of our own sisterhood.” I could do nothing but agree (Fisher.) Stereotypes of a “Srat Star” As with any other group of people there are some stereotypes that do exist. The first stereotype I ran across was that we don’t care about academics. To rebuttal this, Kappa Kappa Gamma has a required amount of study hours each member has to complete that pertains to their GPA of the previous semester. Greeks have a higher GPA on average than the rest of the Georgia Southern campus. Another stereotype was that sorority girls are self absorbed. I can not completely deny this one. Each sorority does not only focus on themselves. We are involved in many philanthropic events that we devote our time and money too. Also, each member is required to participate in a certain number of philanthropy hours a month. Thirdly, many sorority woman are seen as only sorority woman. People believe that if you join a sorority you can do nothing else with your time. Thankfully, members get out as much as they put in. Many of my sisters have part time jobs or are members of other school organizations and sports. Lastly, and arguably one of the biggest stereotypes, is that Greek organizations pay for their friends. Just because a group of girls joins an organization that consists of others females with the same interests does not mean we pay for our friends. A sorority is run mirror to a business, with a president, council, and, of course, dues. Because of the dues we pay we can participate in awesome socials and sisterhood events. They do not decide who we spend our free time with (Scott). My Final Thoughts
Gates 8 Whether girls do it to find instant friends in a new social and academic situation or to discover new things about themselves a sorority can offer countless of beneficial aspects. It made me think about how Kappa Kappa Gamma may not only be a sisterhood to some, but a new home. Kappa offers security and connections the minute you open your bid card. It truly is a subculture due to the unique bonds it offers to each member. Without the connections of not only our Zeta Upsilon sisterhood at Georgia Southern but of all the sisterhoods in America, we could not be as successful as a nation of women. I have realized that the bonds we form through the years since pledging are priceless. I found a new, and greater respect for being a Kappa after this project and a greater admiration for the choices that I have made in my life that lead me and my sisters where we are going. It is not the destination that counts but the journey.
Gates 9 Works Cited Conway, Jordan. Zeta Upsilon Kappa Kappa Gamma Georgia Southern University. Kappa Kappa Gamma at Georgia Southern University. 2011. Web. 8 March 2012. Fisher, Kirsten. Personal Interview. 20 Feb. 2012. Kappa Kappa Gamma Headquarters. Kappa Kappa Gamma. Advanced Solutions International. 2003. Web. 8 March 2012. Scott, John Finely . “The American College Sorority: Its Role in Class and Ethnic Endogamy.” American Sociological Review Volume 30 Number 4 (1965) : 514527. Web. 8 March 2012. Styers, Kristin Johnson. The Key: A Kappa Kappa Gamma Publication. Ohio: Kappa Kappa Fraternity, 2011. Print. Tessier, Denise. 2,000 History: Kappa Kappa Gamma Through the Years. Ohio: Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity, 2000. Print.
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