Alex Barr '21 stands smiling in front of one of the historic entrances to Lewis & Clark College near the Alumni gatehouse. Photo by Jo Tacabeck

I drank the Crystal Light: my survival story

I came to Lewis & Clark as a starry-eyed freshman in 2017. It took time, but I grew to love this peculiar little school. Nonetheless, I transferred to a school back home in Oklahoma due to, you know the cliché, family issues. Even though I had planned to stay at the University of Oklahoma for the rest of my collegiate career, I quickly realized I had long outgrown the rolling plains of my home state. How? I can sum it up in two words: sorority life. 

Are you hearing the “Kill Bill” sirens? “A sorority girl? On my campus?” Yes, I have re-infiltrated our flannel-wearing, Doc Marten-collecting, Hydro Flask-wielding student body. And man oh man, do I have some stories. 

My fingers are fluttering over the keyboard as I sift through my mental catalog of dirty laundry to air. I honestly am not sure if I am allowed to disclose these details. Unsurprisingly, sororities dislike stories being told to anyone who has yet to sample their Kool-Aid, or rather their Crystal Light. So, I will reveal only one sorority secret, but I hope you will find it amusing.

Most of the sorority girls I met had their eye on the prize: a husband. More importantly, many girls in my sorority scrambled to find one quickly so they could attain the high honor of a candle-lighting ceremony. What is a candle-lighting ceremony, you ask? On special nights when the moon is hung just right, and the stars align ever so perfectly, we hold the sacred candle-lighting ceremony after chapter, which is the weekly meeting of everyone in the sorority. After enduring all of the mundane announcements, the president asks all the girls who are in a long-term relationship to come to the front of the room. They then stand in a circle and slowly pass around a lit candle as they sing a lullaby. Eventually, one girl will blow out the candle, meaning she is engaged. A sea of high-pitched screams ensues and convicted “I knew it!”s are tossed about the room. The commotion dwindles as we all sit and listen to the “how he did it” story in attentive silence garnished with collective sighs after the particularly dreamy bits. Bear in mind these lucky girls are usually in their senior year, so they have just reached the ripe old age of 22. I witnessed four of these ceremonies in one year. 

In the end, I obviously decided to come back to LC. I missed my friends terribly, and I missed the person I can be here. I may poke fun at sorority life, as I find it eerily similar to a cult, but I would be lying if I said I hated all of it. Although I carry several stories like this in my back pocket, I really liked certain aspects of my sorority, and I say this knowing it will likely ruin my image as a non-conforming, small-school girl. I met ambitious, funny, genuine and caring women, each of them more complex than the three Greek letters stuck to their cars or printed on their sweatshirts. Are there systemic problems with sororities? Undoubtedly, yes. Yet, I found myself surrounded by women who cared for me like family, or even, dare I say it, sisters. Even now I cannot bring myself to throw out the shirts that boldly read “(redacted) sorority” across the front. Will I wear one around campus? Maybe. Who knows, I might even pair it with some Doc Martens and a flannel.

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