on July 16, 2004
As a professional educator and national representative of a national sorority I was astonished at some of the information presented by Ms. Robbins in her book Pledged. While every college campus is different, there are no local traditions as she claims other than University based traditions. National "headquarters" are not pushing the pearl-idea of the 1950's and we do not use it as a means for husband hunting. NHQ's are administrative centers which educate women in the organization to be proactive, safe, and are up to the current times. Greek Life members typically have higher GPA's, ARE career networking avenues, are more successful professionally, hold more advanced degrees, and do many of the service-scholastic activities she chooses to ignores. Some of her terminology in the book reflects her lack of professionalism in her accurate research: pledge should be new member, rush is now recruitment....
Everyone who reads this should see this as a generalization of the greek system by someone who is un-eduated and is looking to put down a large group (3.3 million people) who work hard to protect our secret rituals and promote our positive names despte some of the dangerous behavior that may occur on any college campus true of any collegiate greek or not.
on July 12, 2004
While "Pledged" does provide an interesting inside look on the greek system, I feel compelled to say something. I don't believe that anyone who is not in a sorority has the right to arguie that this is an accurate account of what actually goes on. It's not possible for people who have no experience with sororities to judge the validity of this book. I myself am a Chi Omega at a southern university. I felt that the issues discussed in this book are unfounded and ridiculous. The entire purpose of the greek system is based on trust and sisterhood. Robbins had no right to pose as a sister and expose sorority secrets that are not relevant to the purpose of her book.
While I agree that many women have issues with friendship, sex, drugs, alcohol, and self-image, this is NO different from any other college student. By portraying only sororities, Robbins fails to create basis for comparison. For her to allege that it is only sorority women that are involved in binge drinking and partying is completely and utterly false. Her judgements are based on one year at one university with four women.
Each university and each sorority has different rules and regulations regarding behavior. There are many out there who do not enforce a ban on hazing, and I agree that hazing is a horrible activity. But try focusing on the majority of sororites which do not engage in such activities, who are active in philanthropy and who truly do represent the greek system. I am saddened by the actions that Robbins witnessed as a sorority sister but as a sister I do not beleve that these actions are universal.
on July 18, 2004
As a member of the greek community, this book makes me angry. But what makes me more angry is that people are reading it and taking it as though she researched every greek community in the country. If she would have look at even just a few other campuses she would have seen that not every sorority is like that. Did anyone realize that she takes some of the things that are not even bad things and trys to make them sound bad. It's sad that the sororitys portrayed in this book have such a bad greek system at their school and maybe instead of bashing it or letting it continue how it is, these girls should try and do something to change it. Complaining to a reporter isn't going to help anything. And if it's as terrible as they portray it to be, then why are they there. It's their choice to be in the sorority in the first place, so what's keeping them there? Obviously something is. I can tell you that in my experience NOTHING has ever come close to being like those sororitys. Sorry, but for her to judge something she was never a part of is apalling to me. The sister hood in my sorority is amazing and I'm sorry that this book is causing people to not want to experience something that has changed my life the way that it has.
on July 10, 2004
When I first came across this book, I was excited and intrigued. Sororities will always have a mysterious aura, just as any exclusive group. The beginning of the book was fascinating, as though the reader was witnessing a foreign culture from an ethnographer's point of view. However, the rest of the book is biased, incomplete, and poorly written.
Nobody said nonfiction books had to be objective. For someone outside of Greek culture, Robbins makes an incredibly strong argument, although she relies on common stereotypes to make most of her case. But as a trained journalist, Robbins obviously did not incorporate anything she learned in journalism school (if she went) and as a staff writer for The New Yorker. One can easily question her journalistic intergrity--most of her sources are on deep background and she generously peppers her book with pseudonyms.
The book is also poorly organized. Although she tries to use a chronological structure, she makes random and often pointless digressions, making many parts of the book redundant and irritating. Citing the same event five times doesn't make for good writing.
While black and Latina sororities are mentioned, Asian-interest sororities are completely left out. Like the cases in which minorities are rejected from traditionally white sororities, Robbins does not include Asians in Greek culture. As a member of a national Asian-interest sorority, I know of at least six other Asian sororities that promote their own cultural, service, and academic ideals. In fact, the first national Asian-interest sorority was founded at UCLA around the 1920s and still exists today. Robbins has continued to marginalize an already invisible American group.
As a writer, Robbins needs training on basic structure and sentence flow. As a journalist, she has "sold out," preferring to compromise professional intergrity for profit. While her other novels, which I have not read, might be better works of nonfiction, this trash novel certainly is not.
on July 8, 2004
I have just finished reading pledged. I thought that this book was very informative but also misleading in some cases. I am a member of a sorority in a large southern university. I agree with Ms. Robbins that many of the sororitys are superficial and are just looking for a continuance of high schools popularity contest in the shouth. But this is not true for all sororitys or all people. There are girls in my chapter that take being in a sorority a life or death situation. They tell us to hang out with the fraternities so we wont be seen as the chapter thats not invilved with the other fraternities on campus. This is only a selected few members of a chapter.
I believe that if i had access to this book before i went through recruitment i would have changed my mind about participating in the recruitment process. The book does show all the negative aspects of sorority life and rarley shows the good times that sisters have together.
I agree with the other reviewer that the black sororitys are shown in a better light that the white ones. It is true that white sororitys do not participate in as much community service. But white sororitys do NOT haze. I have not herd of anyone on my campus being hazed and within my chapter they gave us packets on bid day explaining the rules of hazing and if we were to be hazed what would happen. Also black sororitys may have a higher GPA than a white sorority this is many times due to the fact that the black sororitys are significantly smaller that the white sororitys.
I believe that the book was very true in many cases but also very negative. Ms.Robbins did an excellent job with showing what sororitys are about and only showing some of the things that happen in a sorority sister life.
on July 8, 2004
I agree totally with the Slanted Journalism review from July 7. Also, in response to a "Midwestern sorority girl", I take slight offense in your comment that since the book was about sororities in the south that it must be different from other areas of the country. True, since most sororities were born in the south there tends to be a lot of pride and history in that area, but it doesn't mean they are all about that. I am from a small, southern chapter and my experience was wonderful.
The book reports incorrect information and exploits situations in an unfavorale manner. Collegiate sports teams and other campus groups can have just the same amount of hazing, social, eating problems as any greek group. I've seen that through an old roommate.
In another review it suggests that the black (NPHC) fraternities and sororities are "better" because they promote leadership, etc, but at my school they did much more hazing than any of the NPC chapters I knew.
Anyway, I would not recommend this book because the information is not entirely accurate. Although, it may be a "fun" read, I would not want any of my sisters contributing to the author's revenue!
on July 8, 2004
Being a member of a NPC sorority at a large Midwestern university made me want to read this book and I definitely was not disappointed! I have recommended it to all of my sorority sisters... and anyone else who would like to read it. While I dont think that the main characters of the book are a great protrayal of all sorority sisters, they were still so fun to read about. I felt that Robbins was fair in her writings but since she was at a Southern university, where sororities are everything, I feel that this book does give a slightly off idea to non-Greeks on what sorority life is like. Not all sororities haze or are as cruel or superficial as some of the girls are in the story. Even though they weren't your everyday sorority, they made for a great book.
What I also really enjoyed about the book is that Robbins takes about every other chapter to discuss different sorority topics such as black vs. white sororities, hazing, rush, and even the rituals of different chapters. She even focuses on topics that are avoided by some Nationals... such as rape at social events, drug use, and eating disorders throughout the book. These chapters intertwined with the story really complete the book and make it a great read for non Greeks and Greeks alike.
When it all boils down, this book was really, really good and everyone that I know that has read has said that they couldn't put it down until they finished. Definitely read Pledged!
on July 7, 2004
Although this book has tabloid appeal, it is one of the most slanted pieces of journalism that I have ever read. I am an alumna of one of the largest NPC sororities at Virginia Tech. While I had fun being a member of a sorority, I felt that it was a waste of time and money.
Despite this, I think that this book grossly inflated every conceivable stereotype of sorority women. Binge drinking, promiscuity, drug experimentation and eating disorders are hardly exclusive to sororities. I admit that scholarship and philanthropy were not higher priorities than socializing in my chapter.
As far as the story about plumbers having to visit sorority houses because the bulimics wrecked the plumbing; that is an OLD urban legend. In addition, I have worked with many people suffering from bulimia and can assure you that a bulimic is NOT likely to engage in a "puking" party and will go to great lengths to conceal purging. Eating disorders are very private addictions to those who suffer from them.
I was also very offended by the disclosure of secret rituals and handshakes for the various sororities. Disclosing such information adds absolutely ZERO value to the book and makes absolutely no sense to those who aren't familiar with those rituals. Ms. Robbins incorrectly reports some of the alleged rituals from my sorority. I think that disclosing this information is mean spirited and was done simply because she could. To me, that is just as bad as someone leaking proprietary company information. Very bad judgment that speaks volumes about her agenda. It is clear that she lacks objectivity. Despite the fact that I am indifferent to my sorority, I have never once disclosed any of the secrets out of respect and tradition.
Another thing that was laughable was the emphasis on listing the designer bags that the sorority girls and rushees were carrying. How is that any different than women in their 20s and 30s? Another thing that is hardly exclusive to sorority women.
I do not fault Ms. Robbins for writing an expose on sororities but do criticize her methodology and spin. To me, it is just a piece of anti-greek/anti-establishment propaganda by someone who did not experience sorority membership first hand (but is clearly obsessive about secret societies).
on July 6, 2004
Since most reviews here are about sororities and not about this book, I thought I would try to provide an objective review over Pledged's actual content and quality. Pledged is neither a wholly objective look at what it's like to be a sorority girl, nor is it a scathing expose at the wrongs of sororities in America. It is instead a collection of real life stories, sociological research, and negative opinions all mixed together into one cohesive book.
Pledged starts strong in its concept and its readability. Robbins lays down her purpose for writing the book; expose the real life goings-on inside sororities. To do so she enlists the help of four sisters at a Greek-heavy state university to work as her confederates. The girls in turn report the many things she cannot get access to. The chronicling of these girl's personal lives combined with timely interjections of Robbins' own research, create an interesting narrative that also provides large insights into sorority life.
However, the book begins to wane by the second half as the author takes the focus off the girl's and puts it onto many small editorials about the perceived wrongs of sororities. Perhaps this is merely an attempt to stir up controversy, or maybe Robbins', caught up in a youthful zeal for righteousness, couldn't help but express her opinions over the injustices she was reporting. Either way, it was a gross error on her part, turning a potentially good book into merely an average one.
I recommend you buy this book if you are very curious about the inside of sorority houses, or if you enjoy reading about women's studies in general. Otherwise, leave it on the shelves.
on July 1, 2004
Having just finished reading Pledged I feel compelled to write a review. I thought a lot of the information regarding sorority life to be accurate to a point. However, most of the girls she followed except for 1 were not actively involved in the sorority. Most women who join a house go one of two ways. They are either extremely active and hold offices or they are there for the parties/boys. The women who stay actively involved have an ownership to the sorority that other girls wont. Having pledged a sorority at a midwestern college in the 80's I had a wonderful experience. So much so that for the past 12 years I have been the recruitment advisor for my sorority on a different campus. I now have a 9 year old daughter that I hope will have the same experience. Being in a sorority taught me good time management, good people skills and most importantly leadership skills. I will also tell you that most of my adult friends I have come from my local alumni group. I would also hire a greek before a non greek any day. Yes, a sorority does have a lot of parties, but that is what we are: SOCIAL ORGANIZATIONS. I personally would have done all the stuff I had done in college (drinking, drugs and sex with a boyfriend) regardless of whether I pledged or not, but I wouldn't have gotton to attend all the great formals, parents weekends and team building activities that I did. Oh, by the way, I was NEVER hazed! I did a formal pledge period and earned my sisterhood. Would I do it again.........YOU BET!!