Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 9
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Self-esteem boosted through Greek life involvement

This column was contributed by Katie Haaheim

Like many of us Whitties, I had a less than graceful social experience in high school. (The only time I was asked to slow dance with a boy, I literally ran away and hid in the bathroom. I was that awkward.) As a teenager, I generally felt ill at ease in social situations, and while I was comfortable with my ability to achieve academically, there was little else that made me feel truly confident about myself.

I came to Whitman with an open mind and a desire to come out of my shell. But while I sat on my Jewett couch-bed as some kindly Phi Delts moved in all of my stuff, I recognized that I was still timid, self-conscious and, like most freshmen, convinced that everyone on campus would make friends except me.

In an effort to meet people and, hopefully, make friends, I decided to go through sorority recruitment. Much to my surprise, I found myself accepting a bid from Kappa Alpha Theta: and so began the most important and unexpected aspect of my college experience.

As a junior and the Chief Operating Officer of Theta, I have many lingering questions about the Greek system as a national institution. I don’t see anything inherently enriching or empowering in a group of people gathering with an arbitrary set of guidelines and rituals that link them together. The Greek system, at its worst, encourages a variety of groupthink that I would argue is actively disempowering to those who find themselves a part of it. That being said, I would like to say that I feel I have experienced Greek life at its absolute best as a part of Theta and the overall system here at Whitman.

Let’s look back to the timid, vaguely awkward little freshman who just joined a sorority:   I found myself welcomed into a vibrant, dynamic, utterly brilliant group of women that genuinely wanted me there with them. Not only that but they had no interest in changing me.

And then a funny thing happened. The more I felt accepted for the exact person I was, the more I felt a desire to change. To grow.

To be at Whitman College is to find yourself interacting on a daily basis with some of the smartest, kindest, most outgoing, and most driven women you’ve ever met. And to be in a sorority means getting the chance to form close relationships with many of those women that you would not necessarily have otherwise met. Gradually, I began to realize that there was no reason in the world that I couldn’t be like the charming, goofy, vibrant, sweet, hilarious women around me. I saw: through example after example: that it is possible to be active and involved on campus, to maintain close friendships outside of your chapter, to unwind and socialize on the weekend and to maintain your academic life.

Theta has given me all of the tools I needed to come out of my shell. I have learned how to balance schoolwork and fun. I have learned how to take on the responsibilities I want and to be a leader. I have learned that frat boys aren’t actually that scary.

I guess that’s what all of the Greek groups at Whitman are: a chance to become a part of a collective that has no definitive reason to care about you, but truly and genuinely does. A chance to settle into a group that accepts you and wants you exactly as you are, but encourages you in all the ways you want to grow. A chance to finally let loose and dress up for more silly themed parties than you ever could have imagined.

That is my empowerment as a Theta at Whitman. I can be exactly the woman I want to be, and I know that no matter what, there will be a place for me here.

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