Coming back to campus in the fall is always bittersweet – saying goodbye to the carefree days of summer is always nostalgic, but getting to see your friends after a long time apart is refreshing. Returning this fall, I had something else to look forward to – our newly renovated chapter space for Alpha Phi.
Alpha Phi’s Iota Tau chapter is brand new to Harvard University. I joined Alpha Phi last spring, on a complete whim. Sororities and fraternities at Harvard are non-residential, so all of our meetings and social activities happen at our “space.” Last spring, the space was essentially an unfinished basement. We met there for committee meetings, but we were constantly looking forward to when the renovations would be done. That day came this fall.
The first time I saw the space was at the Ribbon Cutting Ceremony. It was amazing to look around at a group of about forty girls, my fellow charter members, and to see us sitting in a carpeted, furnished, painted room, celebrating our sisterhood. I looked at our charter, the very one that I had signed last spring, the one that would hang on the wall in this room for decades to come, and I couldn’t help but feel so proud to be a part of it. Being an active part of Alpha Phi has been such an important part of my time in college so far, and I’m grateful every day that I gave it a chance.
Even last spring, when the space was less than impressive, I enjoyed every meeting I had there. There was something special, organic, and unassuming about using the unfinished space. It made me love Alpha Phi even more, I think – we really started from nothing. That fact itself excited me, and still excites me, more than almost anything else. We built a space, physically and metaphorically. We’re still building it. There is so much more to do. The space renovation itself didn’t make me proud – seeing it progress from nothing did.
As our President cut the satin ribbon, I applauded with the full knowledge that something beautiful exists among the women that I’ve met so far in Alpha Phi. I couldn’t help but feel lucky to have been a part of it from the beginning. Looking around at my fellow Phis, I knew we were all thinking the same thing. It was the first time this year that I had seen many of these girls, and as we caught each other’s eyes, we all shared in a moment of excitement and growth, of possibility and achievement.
Harvard has a lot of traditions already set – it’s kind of an old school. Alpha Phi, though, has provided us an opportunity to create something new, to adhere to traditions beyond our school’s reach, and to make our own. Closing the door behind us at the end of the ribbon cutting ceremony, I looked at the Alpha Phi logo on the door and said to my friend, “I’m so glad we have the space now!”
But the space is just the beginning.
Elizabeth MeLampy is a collegiate member at Iota Tau (Harvard). Read her bio by clicking here.