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Dear Panhel: It’s My Facebook, Hear Me Roar!

Dear Panhellenic Council,

It all started on that rainy September day three years ago when I raced in heels and a black cocktail dress — all while fighting the side effects of the flu —  to Boucke building. Girls lined the halls waiting their turn to what is known in the recruitment process as “Post Office.” This is when the final decision was made on which sorority I would be a part of for the next four years.

As an eager Penn State freshman, I wasn’t sure that rush was going to be right for me. I didn’t decide to join because of Facebook, but I joined instead from listening to my peers in the rooms of Stone Hall.

Panhellenic Council Facebook profile photo. Isn’t it pretty?

Flash forward to today — the summer before my senior year. I have been through the recruitment process three times, from both sides of the table. I have been the girl wearing the black v-neck five days in a row, and on the flip side, the girl wearing my letters on a recruitment t-shirt the weeks of rush, acting as a walking billboard. Deciding to join my sorority was the best thing I could have done for my college experience, and it has provided me with friends and memories for a lifetime. With that being said, I respect all of the organizations and acknowledge their rules. I know one of the main concerns of Penn State’s Panhellenic Council is to promote unity among the organizations, and I wholeheartedly believe in that.

One thing I do disagree with, though, is your recent mandate that all members — yes, every single sorority member — must make their Facebook profile picture a disgusting neon green graphic starting August 15th until after recruitment ends. According to an email from my president, this rule was voted on and passed during the spring semester.

You might be thinking, ‘This chick is crazy. It’s just a picture and can easily be deleted.’ That may be true (not the crazy part, of course), but is Panhellenic really going to be trolling Facebook and busting members that don’t have that shitty logo as their picture? What if I change my name, deactivate my Facebook, or don’t even have one?

When I was a freshman, I wanted to be in a sorority that matched my personality. How can I do that if everyone is virtually identical? I wanted to join one that differentiated itself and stood out, not one that conformed.

I pay my dues, both monetarily and by attending Panhellenic events, and don’t think that my refusal to change my picture constitutes reason for a fine, or punishment for my chapter.

Here some of my objections to this mandate:

  1. Facebook is personal. It is mine, and does not belong to anyone else. I choose what to make my profile picture, what information I broadcast, and who my friends are. If you are interested, it is currently a picture of me posing with the Nittany Lion on a brisk autumn day in 2009 when I was at the Greek Carnival manning my sorority’s booth.
  2. Freedom of speech:
    See the Bill of Rights in the United States Constitution.
    Sure, it might not mention social networks specifically, but I don’t see good ‘ole John Hancock ordering me to change my profile picture to Uncle Sam saying “I Want You.”
  3. Only my friends are going to see this profile picture. My profile is private. I am not on search. You can’t find me.
  4. Incoming freshmen — who we aren’t allowed to talk to before and outside of recruitment in the first place due to the connotation of “Dirty Rushing” — will not be ‘friending’ me, nor will I be looking for them.
  5. The majority of my friends that would see this profile picture:
    -are in my sorority already, and are cognizant of recruitment.
    -are in a different sorority or organization.
    -are male.
    -don’t go to Penn State.
  6. There is a plethora of social networking websites I prefer using to my Facebook. If you knew me, you would know that I tweet 10000940584093583 times a day.
  7. I am a senior graduating in December of this year, and will be applying for jobs at the time of said profile picture mandate. I do not want employers seeing me with a red cup anymore than I want them seeing me advertising for sorority recruitment.
    Yes, the fact that I am in a sorority is an integral part of my resume to show that I have leadership skills and belong to an organization. But I do not want to give off the implication that my life is 24/7 sorority.
  8. The picture is extraordinarily bright. And ugly.

Here’s a solution: Have every member ‘like’ the Panhellenic Facebook page and share the recruitment photo on their wall. I am not trying to take away from sorority recruitment; in fact, I have previously written an article giving incoming freshman tips to sorority fall formal recruitment.

So fine away because of my Facebook. I look forward to you telling us next year what I can do on Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Instagram, Yammer, Klout, Friendster, Tumblr, Skype, MySpace…ehh no never mind, and Jdate (Call me, maybe?).

Proud sorority member and avid Facebook user,

Lauren Feinstein

P.S. – Please register for Fall 2012 Recruitment by clicking here. Didn’t need a profile picture to tell you that, did you?

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