Recently, I was scrolling through Facebook hoping to find some happy photos, great quotes, and service activities of my Sorority Sisters from across the country. My search was easy – I saw a photo of Sisters out to dinner enjoying each other’s company, I found Province meeting updates and information, and then I happened upon a string of politically motivated posts – and I was surprised that these ugly words and discriminating rants about women were being posted by MY Sorority Sisters.
My first instinct was to ‘unfriend’ every single Sigma Phi in the list. My second thought was to post something myself letting the ladies know how offensive their comments were to me. Instead, I closed out of Facebook and picked up my SPG notebook (full of notes and official SPG documents) for some guidance. As you and I know, I’m not perfect. I’ve certainly made bad choices, had my own rants (usually reacting to something that I felt was unfair or defending a Sister’s honor) and I’ve hurt people’s feelings and even ruined a friendship. So, while I’m not perfect, I’m not dumb – I am learning to be more thoughtful and considerate and I try to let past lessons help me be a better person.
I flipped through the notebook. I read the Pledge and Creed. I looked at photos of our International Council. I read the Friendship Service in the Rituals Handbook. I even read the words to several songs. All these things kept taking me back to words like – love, friendship, respect, care, and encouragement. Not once did I see negative phrases, belittling of strangers, or name calling about people different from me.
I asked myself, is it my role to call these Sisters out for posting what must surely be their personal opinions on Facebook? Probably not. I wasn’t sure about the answer to this question, but I knew posting about it on Facebook would not be productive.
I wondered if my Sisters cared that other SPG members were reading their Facebook comments and they were offended. Were they aware that not everyone in Sigma Phi Gamma is a Republican? or a Democrat? Certainly, they are aware that SPG Sisters are of different races, religions, and political backgrounds. We are, in fact a beautiful, unique, and slightly diverse group of women – truth is we aren’t diverse enough (but that’s another BUDDIE Blog post).
Mostly though, I wondered how these types of comments might be keeping someone from considering membership in SPG. I mean, really, who wants to invest time and resources in an organization that appears from a string of comments to be made up of women who are disrespectful, out of touch, and dare I say racist.
I wondered if my Sisters understood that a post at 5:45 PM about an SPG fundraiser, and a post at 7:00 PM calling elected officials ugly names and belittling women created a clear and unmistakable connection between them and SPG.
All of this kept nagging at me – for weeks. We are all the face of Sigma Phi Gamma – we seek to bring new women into our organization. We say we want to grow our Sorority and our words and actions matter. I sought counsel from a Sister who is a wise leader and she suggested I write a BUDDIE Blog post. Thank you, Robin.
At a time when we are working hard on growing our membership and retaining members, there is no room for political rants about one party or the other. There is no room ever to talk disparagingly about women, especially women in service to their country (even if you don’t agree with their priorities).
Do you think our Sisters would have voiced the same derogatory words that were posted on Facebook in a room full of SPG Sisters – to their face? I doubt it. Just because we aren’t in the presence of people physically or in the same room doesn’t mean that others aren’t watching, reading, and listening.
Would you want to be a member of an organization that says it stands for friendship, service, and community yet its members are belittling elected officials, refusing to open our doors to women of different races or religions? I doubt it.
I’m not saying we can’t voice a concern, call out a truth, or hold each other accountable. What I am saying is that I hope we can strive to be the women who recite, believe, and live the SPG Pledge and Creed. Let’s help one another keep the conversation positive. We are one in Friendship, Service, and Community – Sigma Phi Gamma!
I pledge myself to uphold the moral character of the Sigma Phi Gamma Sorority and to make myself worthy of our sorority pin. All this I promise with the realization of the helpfulness it will bring to my Sisters and to me.