In October of 1872, ten motivated women came together through sisterhood. Alpha Phi Fraternity was founded based on the powerful bond these sisters had with one another. Each founder brought a different perspective on sisterhood to form our rituals, and today this high ideal still uplifts us beyond ourselves, and beyond our chapters. Martha, Jane, Clara B., Clara W., Ida, Catherine, Hattie, Kate, Rena and Louise were the epitome of sisterhood, for they cared for one another and felt strongly enough to implement their dream when it seemed completely impossible for a group of women to accomplish it.
Sorority life is a commitment, just as it was 139 years ago. We must maintain chapter houses, hold social events, complete paperwork, elect and appoint leadership positions, participate in our own and other organizations’ philanthropy events and much more.
Of all the values we treasure, sisterhood is the one priority that incorporates the rest: an ideal sister is able to balance Alpha Phi with her schoolwork and other extracurricular activities. She is also a leader, whether by assuming an officer position or by simply encouraging other sisters. She also volunteers her time to those in need, whether by working in a soup kitchen, tutoring another sister in math or helping other charities. The challenge is being able to participate in these numerous activities while simultaneously maintaining great relationships with sisters.
At the Theta Iota chapter, we have incorporated the “Snap Cup,” which recognizes the nice things sisters do for each other. It is a great way to thank the “silent leaders” in our chapter, or those who are more soft-spoken than others about going out of their way to help another sister. Not only does this boost the confidence of the chapter but it allows sisters to share their appreciation for the chapter in a unique way. We pass a jar during chapter, and sisters can write a “snaps to so and so” message. At the end of each chapter meeting, a sister stands and reads all of the “snaps” aloud. Although some messages are quite humorous, some are very sincere and deserve recognition.
The challenge for all Alpha Phis is to reach the goal of ideal sisterhood. Alpha Phi member’s definitions are varied. Take these Theta Iota sisters’ opinions:
“An ideal sister is someone I could see as a biological sister.” --Stacy Murphy
“An ideal sister treats others to small acts of kindness when it is least expected.” --Katy Summerlin
“An ideal sister is understanding, reliable and trustworthy.” --Katie Soriano
“An ideal sister creates a bond between her sisters on a level that others may not understand.” --Maureen Cashman
The last quote epitomizes our Founders’ intentions for Alpha Phi. This is why we still keep our rituals secret. Sisterhood, however, should be no secret. Alpha Phi challenges its members to show the world what a true sister is. Wear letters to class and make a great impression to professors and other students. Volunteer at a non-profit organization with new members. Be the one to spread the cheer when the chapter’s morale is low. Alpha Phi instilled these values in each of us as we were initiated into this organization. Lead by example: even the smallest acts of kindness may mean to a particular sister more than we will ever know.
Alison Parker is a sophomore at James Madison University (Theta Iota) in Harrisonburg, VA.