Why “Beta Delta” Matters

Note: This piece solely reflects the views of the author, and not necessarily the organization as a whole.

I came to the University of Michigan 15 pounds overweight, socially anxious, and wildly insecure. Although you would not be able to tell by my extroverted personality, validation from others made up a significant portion of my self esteem. I decided to go through the sorority recruitment process to forget about my insecurities, put myself out there, and, as important as it is corny, to find a group of sisters that smell better than my two brothers at home.

With a vicious eating disorder and depression boiling under my skin, freshman year was anything but easy. When I look back at that time in my life, I feel a physical pain in my heart. I want to reach out to my 18-year-old self and tell her everything that I know now. I want to tell her about Leah and Jennie and Nicole and Emma and Ally and Sophie. I want to tell her about the hours of laughter, the Insomnia my apartment unapologetically orders during late night study breaks, and the clothes that are too small but that I couldn’t give a shit about.   

I want to tell her about her sorority. I want to tell her not to lock herself in her room and cry and starve herself. I want to tell her to hold out hope. But for a year of my life I had no hope. In light of the recent “Beta Delta” letter, I can’t help but be pulled back into that dark place.

Mental health should be a priority for the Greek Life community. Thus, the inadequate recognition of the contents of the leaked letter, the lack of transparency, and the dismissal of the letter as a “creative writing assignment,” is utterly repulsive, and quite frankly, dangerous for the livelihood of all those involved.  

The dismissal of the contents of the letter in Panhel’s official statement reflects poorly on the entire Greek community. As a proud sorority member, I am ashamed at the lack of repercussions for the letter, and as noted earlier, lack of transparency and communication. Yes, the official statement reaffirmed the Panhellenic community’s use of a values-based recruitment system (meaning sororities rank Potential New Members on values and not looks). But what about the girls, like me, who were initially insecure about the recruitment process?

Mental health is a part of our everyday lives. One cannot read the “Beta Delta” letter and help but think how they were or would be ranked. In our ever more commercialized, sexualized, and glamorous society, not only is it important to note that that is NOT how all chapters rank, but it is also important to recognize the extremely triggering language and refer people for help. The letter represents a larger issue with how women are labeled in society- by looks, and not by the content of their character. The “Beta Delta” letter  may or may not reaffirm many women’s misguided beliefs about the importance of their physical image. The lack of recognition for the letter’s triggering aspects encourages a community where hushing mental health is the norm. This is a very real issue, and needs to be dealt with in a very real way.

I love my Little, Ellie, because when I rushed her, she made me laugh and smile so genuinely that I thought I had known her for years. I love my Little, Molly, even though she doesn’t remember me rushing her, because her bear hugs and warm smile bring a much needed light to my life. I could sit here and list dozens of reasons for why I love each and every one of my friends in Sigma Kappa. What I can’t do, and what I refuse to do, is sit here and tell you the “external scores” of my best friends.

My friends yanked me out of a dark place and patched up the hole. Yes I went to therapy. Yes I took medication. But without the support of my family and the close friends I’ve made here, I would never be where I am today. Everyone deserves to know that the Beta Delta process does not reflect the entirety of the Greek system, and that you are not alone.

If you are struggling, please see our resources page to get help.