By Ashley Shuler
Ten students have deactivated from a sorority or fraternity so far this year.
Greek Life Coordinator Natalie Brewster said the number is on par with other years and that her office hasn’t gotten “red flags.”
Brewster said the most commonly reported reason for deactivation is financial.
“Being in a sorority or a fraternity does cost money,” Brewster said. “People know that at the get-go of the process, but sometimes they get into school and their financial circumstances may change.”
Brewster said the second most common reason for membership cancellation is that people grow as the year goes on.
“They kind of realize that their priorities are a little different, or maybe their interests have changed,” Brewster said. “Maybe the role that the fraternity or sorority was filling for them is not anymore.”
The average size of a Franklin chapter this year is 91 members. If that number isn’t maintained, the chapter has the option to give out open spring bids.
Senior Karoline Park said as a member of Zeta Tau Alpha, she feels like maintaining the correct number of spots is less of an option and more of an obligation.
“In order to not get a strike against us for crown chapter, we have to hit a certain number based on campus size and recruitment size,” Park said. “When we fall below that number, we just have to fill those spots.”
Park, who works alongside Brewster, said she has “seen girls come and go” for various reasons.
“I think all of the founders of all the sororities on this campus created these things that the chapters could mold them into what they wanted them to be,” Park said. “It’s supposed to fit the needs of the women who are on this campus. And sometimes those needs aren’t met and girls decide that it’s not for them anymore.”
Brewster reports very few issues once someone ends their membership.
“The biggest struggle is seeing my friends wear their letters on campus and not be wearing them with them,” sophomore Laura Wilson said of her Delta Delta Delta deactivation. “But they all told me ‘you’re a sister no matter your status.’ … And I’ve felt that.”
Park remains friends with girls who have left ZTA.
“Part of being a sorority woman is—even after someone decides to leave—it’s your duty to maintain friendship,” Park said. “If you remove the colors, the badges, the symbols, the letters, and you look at people’s creeds and rituals, we all have the same words—friendship, sisterhood, honor—and I feel like you’re doing your founders a disservice if you cut someone off for leaving your chapter.”
Rachel Bertram, a freshman who deactivated from Delta Delta Delta after the fall semester, said her reasons were both financial and social.
Bertram said she was “shy and introverted” when she came to Franklin, and she hoped being recruited would help round out her college experience.
“Because of my social anxiety, it was still difficult for me to participate as much as I would like,” Bertram said. “I also work 20 hours a week at least, so it was difficult for me to be active. Nobody really knew me.”
After going through recruitment the fall of her freshman year, sophomore Emily Miller deactivated from ZTA this semester for social and financial reasons.
“It was a great thing to be involved in while I was,” Miller said. “It was just really expensive, and I wasn’t getting much out of it.”
Miller decided to focus on other priorities, like academics and church.
“The friends I made in ZTA are still my friends now,” Miller said. “I signed the paper and just wasn’t at the next meeting. … It was the mature thing to do to end my membership and know what was right for me.”
Sophomore Kayla Walker said joining ZTA her freshman year was a “nice way of getting into college” but wasn’t for her in the long run.
“I felt my heart had pulled away from the whole sorority thing; it wasn’t where I wanted to be,” Walker said. “It felt really good to make the right decision. It’s what I needed to do for my life and career.”
Once the forms were signed, Walker said she felt women in her sorority were less accepting and were “giving her the cold shoulder.”
“It was very weird,” Walker said. “There was a lot of confusion and rumors in the air. … But not everyone is going to understand why you left.”
Wilson, who has a family lineage of Tri Deltas, deactivated this semester after joining her freshman year.
“Finances played a big role in my decision,” Wilson said. “I could afford it, but I didn’t have much left over.”
Another factor for Wilson was time.
“I don’t feel like I have the time that Tri Delta deserved,” Wilson said. “That wasn’t fair when another girl could have my spot that would give all the time she could. In my mind, Tri Delta could gain more than I could give. It really came down to a decision for my sisters, not just for me.”