Tag Archives: sorority

Sorority Apartments

MAIN PIECE

Sorority Apartments

“A lot of Sorority girls at CSUCI have fought over who gets to live in a Sorority apartment building like most sorority girls at other schools would fight over living in the Sorority house.  To call something a Sorority apartment came from a stupid law in Camarillo from the olden days that prohibits more than ten unrelated women to live in the same house, so sororities have gone around the issue by leasing specific buildings in apartment complexes around the school.   That’s how the term came to be!”

BACKGROUND

SM is from Camarillo, California and has grown up in the area since he was born.  He says he knows this from his sister who went to CSUCI and was in a sorority that had to do this.   He remembers specifically being confused about why her friends would always call it the Sorority apartments cause on TV, people would always talk  about sorority houses,  but never apartments.

CONTEXT

SM is an old high school friend of mine.  I invited him to a  Discord server and I watched him play The Witcher.   He was open to talk about folklore of the area we grew up in during cutscenes he said he had already watched when he had played the entirety of the game before.

THOUGHTS

Folklore acting as a sort of counteraction against a law is nothing new, but the fact that it has stuck around as long as it has is impressive.  The saying of this word must come out of a unique sense of being and is probably not just specific to CSUCI sorority girls, but CSUCI students as a whole.  It must be somewhat nice for this folk group to know they get to say something that would seem a bit odd to the average person, but completely relatable and even political to those who knew the issue.

Ice Blocking

Main piece:

(The following is transcribed from a conversation between the informant and interviewer.)

Interviewer: Tell me about ice blocking, if you don’t mind.

Informant: Okay, ice blockiiiiiiiiiiing, is a thing at – I don’t know uhh… Okay. At UCLA we have like a – not really like the typical college quad, but we have Jan’s Hill which is like – not even a central part of campus but just like – the most grassy open place you can sit, and it’s just, like a hill near Royce which is like, the iconic building of UCLA. That’s where people like sit in-between classes during the day and have picnics and stuff, but at night, a lot of people in like, clubs or just like as a group of friends will go and do something called “ice blocking” which is… people will go to Ralph’s and get like a big block of ice that’s like… a foot long and six inches tall and wide – and then you go to this hill, you start at the top – and you sit on it, and you just slide down the hill on the ice as far as you can. I don’t know who thought of this first or where it started but the first time I did it was like, as a part of my sorority, and then – once you like, have done ice blocking it just seems so obvious to do it and you just ask people if they’ve done it and their like “What? No!” or they’re like “Obviously” and it’s just like shows whether someone has really gotten the like full UCLA experience or not. Cause then if they haven’t done it you can be like, “Oh then we should go sometime!” I’ve only ever done it twice, once with sorority and once with ADPI [Alpha Delta Pi]. But it’s… Oh those are the same things – once with sorority and once with my apartment’s – when we first all moved in together. So it’s just like something silly to do. And… it seems kind of hard to sit on this block of ice but – you have to sit on it so that it’s long-ways down and not wide and then you can use a towel so your butt doesn’t get so wet, but then in the summer it’s better to not because it’s hot and you want to be cooled down anyway. And then you just – have to put your feet up in a little like, ball position and then you just slide as far as you can but you have to stop before you hit the bushes or else… you’d be pretty screwed. And with my roommates one tried to do it standing up like surfing and they did like – literally somersaults down the whole hill. 

Interviewer: …Who was that? (laughing)

Informant: (Laughing) It was [name redacted]!

Interviewer: Oh my god.

Informant: And also [name redacted], I think, maybe.

Interviewer: That’s crazy.

Informant: I don’t know what else to say about it really.

Interviewer: Oh no that’s cool, you can just- is there anything like…

Informant: (sighs) it’s not a competition, really, because you only ever have like – well, i guess – actually I’ve seen-

Interviewer: Is it for like special occasions?

Informant: Yeah. Like for sorority, we did it like, as one of our first bonding activities when we all joined. And then for like, my roommates we did it as the celebration of us all moving in to our new apartment. So a lot of clubs do it as like a bonding activity I feel like.

Interviewer: …Is it allowed?

Informant: It’s not not allowed. No one’s ever been stopped for it. Like people also will have picnics where they drink on that hill and that’s not allowed because it’s a dry campus but they still do that anyway- and often… the two activities will be combined. (laughing)

Interviewer: (laughing)

Background: My informant is Senior in College who grew up in Southern and then Northern Illinois. She comes from a family of middle-class background. She goes to UCLA, and therefore has adopted a mix of midwest and west coast folklore.

Context: The informant is my sister, and she gave me this piece in a more research oriented setting, as she was the first person I collected from and I was determining the best way to go about the process still. She was very loose by this point in our long conversation, and our conversations always include humor.

Thoughts: This is a good example of a piece of folklore (specifically a tradition – maybe even an initiation ritual, though that categorization is a little more of a stretch) that seems absurd from the outside. At least, from my perspective, knowing nothing about the steepness of this hill especially, this activity sounds either rather boring and weird or entirely too dangerous. Apparently though, it is a common activity on any given night at UCLA, and I’m sure if I went there I would be all for it.

University of Alabama Bid Day

Main Piece:

Bid day at the University of Alabama is like Christmas, Easter, and every other holiday wrapped into one. Every single PNM, potential new member, is waiting with their Rho Chi, or rush, group in Bryan Denny Stadium, at 2pm they open their bids, find out what sorority they have gotten an offer from. Then by sorority, each PNM runs to their house with utter joy. All of a sorority’s active members are present outside of their house waiting for their new sisters to come home to their house. During bid day family members come down to celebrate this news. Fraternity brothers from the university also come to the sorority row and hand out roses to the new members while they are running home. It is one of the biggest celebrations on campus as thousands of new sisters are running down the row.

Context:

EG is a member of a sorority at the University of Alabama and a sophomore. She has been in her sorority for two years and had experienced both sides of this tradition. She finds it is more exciting as an active as you know more people. This piece was taken during a conversation at our home.

Thoughts:

As a member of a fraternity at USC, I understand some of the excitement of bid day. It is a moment is a freshman’s life where they get to join an organization allows them to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Greek Life at the University of Alabama is known for having the biggest presence on any campus in the nation. At USC, our sorority’s also have their bid day all at once. New members run down the row from the Village Lawn into their new sorority house. As my fraternity’s house is near several sorority houses, I can say that EG’s description of her bid day sounds similar to USC’s, but on a much, much larger scale. I find this celebration to also be a really rewarding time after having to go through a lengthy recruitment period.

“Coastie”

MAIN PIECE

“Coastie”

“When you call someone a coastie, it is more often than not seen as an insult.  We use it, probably more in the sorority systems, to describe someone who is from the east or west coast of the United States.  We usually say it when somebody doesn’t understand Wisconsin issues such as the weather  or the lack of warm beaches.”

BACKGROUND

DA, is from Madison, Wisconsin and has lived in the state all her life.  She knows this from being in the sorority system and being explained as to what a coastie was.  She had never hear it before when she lived in Milwaukee, so she assumes it’s specific to U-W Madison.

CONTEXT

DA is a cousin I have that goes to college right now.  We sat down and I invited her for a zoom call.  She seemed a bit stressed about her finals, but she was very elated to talk and take a break from studying for her chemistry exam.

THOUGHTS

To see a piece of a folklore that is used in a way to not identify members of said folk group, but make fun of ones who aren’t is thought-provoking, but not unique to this folk group.  I believe it’s used in this more derogatory manner because most of the people who go to U-W Madison, from looking at their statistics, are from Wisconsin themselves, making these “Coasties” far and few between, as well as easier to pick on in a joking manner.

The Zeta Tau Alpha Belt/Sash

Title: The Zeta Tau Alpha Belt/Sash

Category: Ceremonial Object

Informant: Lisa L. Gabbard

Nationality: American, caucasian

Age: 58

Occupation: Housewife

Residence: 5031 Mead Drive/ Doylestown PA, 18902 (Suburban Home)

Date of Collection: 4/8/18

Description:

The sash/belt is made by the member being intimated into the Panhellenic sorority Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA). The sash is composed of nine alternating ribbons in the ZTA colors: turquoise blue and steel grey. The sash is worn around the waist and over a white petticoat. The ZTA sash is only worn during two occasions of a woman’s life: ZTA initiation and the woman’s wedding day.

Context/Significance:

Zeta Tau Alpha is a Panhellenic social and philanthropic sorority. They are best known for founding the “Think Pink” breast cancer awareness campaign. The ZTA sash is hand made during a woman’s initiation ceremony and is worn over an all-white petticoat. After the woman is initiated into the sorority the woman will keep the sash in her possession until their wedding day. On their wedding day, the woman will wear the sash once more underneath her wedding gown and over the white petticoat (if applicable) beneath the dress’s fabric. The woman will generally make a point of letting the sorority sisters present at her wedding know that she is wearing it and show them prior to the ceremony.

Personal Thoughts:

It is interesting to gather this sorority tradition from my mother since there is no record of ZTA ever being present on USC’s campus and very few of my friends would know about their traditions. Traditionally, as a member of a Panhellenic sorority, female members are required by secret oath to withhold all secrets and traditions of their respective sororities to death and never tell others of their secrets. Luckily, my mother and I do not hold these secrets between each other and she shared this story with me. I understand this ritual to be a “full circle” sort of deal from initiation (innocence) to marriage (maturity). She explained to me that this was a way for her to share her wedding with her “sisters” and still keep them close as she moved on to the next phase of her life.

Sorority Hazing (Kappa Cow)

Piece:

There is a legend of hazing in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority at USC in which all of the new members are weighed on a scale each week and the “fattest one” is called the Kappa Cow for the following week. The Kappa Cow story is an explanation as to why all of the girls in the sorority are “skinny”.

Informant & Context:

My informant for this piece is a member of a sorority at USC and heard this legend from another member of the Greek system here. She is not a member of the mentioned sorority and makes no claims as to the story’s authenticity—it is merely a story that has travelled around the USC campus over time. The specifics of my source remain anonymous. Other accounts of this story include public shaming in the form of Mooing at the selected individual and various other forms of body shaming.

Thoughts:

In recent years, Greek life on college campuses has been highlighted for hazing stories such as this, which have turned out to be true. I make no claims about the verity of this story. I believe that this story may be a piece of fakelore that has sprung out of the fairly popular notion on the USC campus that that the sorority is highly exclusive to “hot, rich snobs” (Urban Dictionary). I find stories around hazing in the Greek community on college campuses especially interesting because of my proximity to it as well as the social barrier to entry they create. Essentially, whether or not they are true, these stories dissuade many people from attempting to join Greek life in schools.

Sorority Hazing (Secret Code)

Piece:

There is a legend that an exclusive sorority at USC had developed a code to ensure that they only recruited girls that met their aesthetic standards (which were at odds with the recruitment plan of their organization as a whole at the national level). Girls that were nice and overall reasonable candidates for the sorority but did not meet the aesthetic standards of the current members would be described by the active members as “pretty, smart, nice” which was a code that they used to reject a reasonable applicant without having to make themselves culpable to their national board.

Informant & Context:

My informant for this piece is a member of a sorority at USC, though not the one that this legend is about. Both sororities will remain anonymous. My informant had heard other members of her sorority talking about this legend. There is no information to confirm or deny its verity. This is a modern legend that has existed for presumably upwards of the last five years.

Thoughts:

There are a lot of legends around sorority hazing and sorority recruitment. I believe that this one is an attempt to provide reasoning for the consistently similar aesthetic of the members of the sorority in question. Though, another reasoning may be that these legends are attempts by others to sabotage a reputation and are in fact fakelore. Regardless, I find these stories interesting because they are in effect, organizational gossip.

Haunted Sorority House

Informant: Okay, so, um, my sister’s sorority house is haunted. And, um, she’s in AChiO at Oregon, and they were like the first sorority on campus, or first ones to have their house that they live in now on campus, so basically like AChiO here. So like because it’s been there for so long, two girls have died there and one of them died at the turn of the century. I think she fell down the stairs, but it doesn’t matter much, but the other one, this girl died in the seventies because she was on the stairs in some high heels and her sister as a joke, like, pushed her, but she fell down the stairs, and it’s a three story staircase, and she fell and broke her neck. And so she died in their house on like a normal night, and now she haunts the house and um her thing is that her ghost comes in the form of a cat so people hear weird meows in their room, and also she’ll come in the bathroom and like flicker the lights. She like threw paper towels at somebody, like this girl was just in there and paper towels just flew at her like peoples baskets will just get knocked off the wall. Also, they have a cat statue in their house, don’t know why, but they always say that it’s the ghost of the woman, and they’ll put it in people’s rooms and their suitcases when people go home just to scare them. It was really scary when I went up.

 

My informant is a freshman at the University of Southern California. She is from San Diego, California. We had this conversation in the study room of my sorority house.

 

This is something that seems to be a basis for some fictional stories. There was an episode of Psych having to do with a haunted sorority house. It seems that in this type of horror story, the person who dies always dies in a certain way, and if there are multiple deaths, they happen in the same way. In this case, both deaths happened on the stairs. It also seems common in many ghost stories and perpetuated by the show Supernatural, ghosts inhabit some type of object to haunt people with.

Sorority Hazing (Washing Machine)

Piece:

Regarding a particular legend surrounding sorority hazing: “you have girls sit on washing machines naked and girls circle parts on their body that jiggle.” The legend goes that all of the new (or potential) members of the sorority would go through this process and then be labeled as fat based on the circled (in marker) parts of their body. They would then be insulted and chastised to work out and eat healthier to get rid of those spots.

Informant & Context:

My informant for this piece heard this legend from another member of her sorority, though this story is not specifically linked to her sorority. Rather, this story is linked to sororities in general surrounding their practices from several decades ago.  Specific houses and people are not named to retain anonymity. The informant stated that there aren’t many more details because the story is “pretty dated” and this method of hazing is “not used anymore”.

 Thoughts:

I find that many of these dated hazing stories provide an interesting array of scare tactics that essentially equate to new members being asked to show how badly they want to be a member of this club; how much are they willing to endure. Stories such as this mostly date back to the 1960s-1980s which by all accounts that I’ve heard, sound like a really good time to have been involved in Greek life at USC. Essentially everything from that era seems to have been exaggerated: the parties were epic and the hazing was cruel. Though I cannot speak to the authenticity of any of these stories.

Sorority Hazing (Compton)

Piece:

In one sorority at USC a legend is told of an act of hazing in the mid 1960’s: the new initiates were dressed in all white—sororities were predominantly white at that time—so as to resemble members of the KKK, and then they were dropped of in Compton—a predominantly black neighborhood, and instructed to find their way home. Given the time period, the girl would not have had cellphones or other means of emergency communication.

Informant & Context:

My informant for this piece heard this legend from another member of her sorority—whose mother was supposedly in said sorority during that period of time. She asked that the names be removed in order to reduce liability.

Thoughts:

Hazing is a prevalent thorn in the rosebush that is college Greek life. The theory is that once new members are chosen based on certain demonstrated criteria, they will be broken down so that they can be rebuilt together in the image of the house—to best represent their letters. A common theory is that the individuals need to be retrained to serve so that service in all forms will become for them an instinct or habit rather than an active decision.

This story is relevant to members of that sorority now because it serves as a comparison to make any smaller scale hazing appear significantly more reasonable and lighthearted. It also serves the purpose of a ghost story—which they may tell to new members to scare them during their introductory period.