Sonya Sorich: Examining the sorority bond of sisterhood

I’m not sure if I remember the secret knock.

Normally, this wouldn’t be a problem. But I’d like to be prepared in the event of a chance encounter with Condoleezza Rice next week.

The former U.S. secretary of state is scheduled to speak Monday at the Jim Blanchard Leadership Forum in Columbus.

Audience members will inevitably have questions about Rice’s position on domestic and international policy issues, not to mention her academic career at Stanford University.

I’m interested in those issues, too -- as well as Rice’s familiarity with the secret knock.

See, Rice and I belong to the same national sorority, Alpha Chi Omega. We joined different college chapters, but are nonetheless united by a bond of sisterhood.

At least that’s what they told me during recruitment.

Yes, Rice’s name was uttered a few times while sorority sisters encouraged me to join their chapter.

Thanks to reality TV, the national sorority’s list of noteworthy alums has expanded to include names like Trista Rehn Sutter and Melissa Rycroft, members of the “Bachelor”/”Bachelorette” franchise.

Lots of people say one of the major benefits of joining a national sorority is having an intangible bond with strong, powerful women across the country.

It helps you in everything from your social life to your professional life, sorority members told me when I was a bright-eyed freshman.

I envisioned the boss at my dream job sorting through thousands of job applications, and then halting the search upon learning I was the only candidate with whom she shared a sorority bond.

I also imagined aimlessly navigating a new city, bordering on social isolation before noticing my favorite Greek letters printed on a woman’s tote bag. Cue the beautiful friendship.

Things don’t always work out that way.

During a recent round of grocery shopping, I spotted a woman my age wearing an Alpha Chi Omega T-shirt.

This was my chance.

“Excuse me, but I really like your shirt. I was a member of Alpha Chi Omega at a small Wisconsin college. Yay for sisterhood!”

Her response? “Sorry, I’m just borrowing this shirt from my friend.”


Sorority recruitment is under way at many college campuses across the nation. Chapters often vary based on your school, and I can’t determine if Greek life is right for everyone.

But shared knowledge of Greek letters alone is rarely enough to make a lifelong friendship.

While secret knocks are good conversation starters, they only open doors when accompanied by ambition, individuality and charisma.