Dear Abby: I would like to tell "Possibly Paddled Pledge" (Jan. 13) that joining a sorority was one of the best parts of college for me. It taught me about interpersonal communication, the importance of philanthropy and academics, and networking. I learned skills I would not have gained had I not joined.
My sorority had paddles. We decorated them with our symbols and Greek letters, and they were displayed on the wall. We never used them to hit anyone. Our national organization, as well as our university, would have been furious. Hazing is illegal and should not be tolerated.
I say, give the Greek life a try, but if someone ever lifts a finger toward you, report her to your Panhellenic organization and the dean of students immediately. Sororities are supposed to lift you up, not beat you down.
Jennifer in St. Louis
Dear Jennifer: Readers unanimously agreed that paddling should not be tolerated, and stressed that being a legacy does not guarantee acceptance or that a pledge will have a good experience in a particular sorority. My readers comment:
Dear Abby: My daughter is currently in a sorority, but her experience has been very mixed. She was not automatically welcomed by my sorority. She found the process to be difficult and judgmental. However, she did find a wonderful group of women in a different sorority.
As a sophomore this year, she is on the other side of recruitment (rush) and again felt hurt by how rude some of the new girls were. "PPP's" letter spotlighted the snobbish, elitist attitude that turns many eligible young women away from sororities. To say a group is the best-of-the-best and exclusive is offensive. I hope more girls will look beyond the glitz and glamour and give a second hard look to all of the groups.
Jane in Akron, Ohio
Dear Abby: My first month in college was wonderful. Then came sorority rush. What followed was hell. I got a paddle with the Greek letters, though it was only a "memento." Far worse was the social fragmentation of the women there. We immediately began to segregate into our little pledge classes, wore pins that identified our group and were typecast from the very beginning.
After wrestling with this psychological social dilemma — even becoming an active member, which would preclude me from ever joining another sorority — I finally deactivated, switched to a much larger school with less emphasis on the Greek system and happily sailed through the rest of my college life with honors.
A Happy Independent
Dear Abby: As a member of a sorority, I have never heard of a sorority that used paddles to hit members. What bothers me is the apparent acceptance by "PPP's" family members of this practice.
As a prosecutor for nearly 30 years, I do not condone in any way the use of a paddle, either in fraternities or sororities.
A sorority is more than academics and whispers about hazing. "PPP" should visit each chapter on the campus, attend rush and make her own decision. Only she can decide which sorority is right for her. If she pledges as a legacy, she'll be in a unique position to actively stop this practice if, in fact, it is occurring. If she's kicked out for not letting them paddle her, then she can shout it from the rooftops and maybe something will finally happen.
"PPP," stand up for what you believe. Choose a sorority you like, with women you would be proud to call your sisters, and you will have the time of your life and lifelong friends who will see you through your old age. I know. I didn't pledge my mom's chapter, but a different one.
Been There in Montana
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Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.