“The fastest way to change society is to mobilize the women of the world.”
I’m pretty sure that Charles Malik had sorority women in mind when he made this statement. I am amazed at what the Circle of Sisterhood Foundation has been able to accomplish in such a short period of time, just by reaching out to sorority women across the country. Philanthropy and giving back to others is something that all of our organizations value. And statistically, we’re pretty good at raising funds to support our respective philanthropic partners. But this is something different. This isn’t just a 3-on-3 basketball tournament that we do once a year to raise some money for a cause. This is a movement. This is women standing up together and demanding that equality be granted to everyone around the globe, no matter their gender.
I first heard about Circle of Sisterhood two years ago.I vaguely remember seeing a booth and being drawn in by the fun colored bubbles that are the Circle of Sisterhood’s brand. Then I got the opportunity to meet Ginny Carroll and within minutes of meeting her and learning exactly what Circle of Sisterhood was, I knew that I wanted to become a part of it.
One thing that I really try to stress to all of the organizations that I work with is that fundraising is only one part of philanthropy. Education and awareness is a huge, important part that sometimes gets left out. So, I followed my own advice and purchased a copy of “Half the Sky.” I think I had to stop and start the book around five times to actually get through it because I would become so angry and upset at some of the things I was reading. That was enough for me to know that I couldn’t just read and do nothing about the issues the book raised.
At the time, I was a brand new advisor working with the Panhellenic community at Ball State University, and I didn’t want to look like the advisor that pushed my own agenda.
So, I would subtly mention Circle of Sisterhood and draw the Panhellenic president’s attention to what other communities were doing in hopes that she would be intrigued enough to look into it. Finally it worked. They were interested. But getting them interested was only half the battle. The other half was getting them to actually understand what the movement was all about. This is not just another band wagon to jump on. It isn’t just another reason to wear a cute t-shirt and put another button on your bag. This is a movement.
We have been incredibly lucky this year to have members of the Panhellenic Council that are incredibly passionate about spreading awareness about the purpose of the Foundation. We have put a emphasis on educating all of our members about the Foundation and the movement. This semester we integrated an awareness presentation workshop into our recruitment counselor training and supplied them with some awesome Circle of Sisterhood swag. Then, we sent them into Panhellenic chapter meetings and had them educate every single sorority woman on the Circle of Sisterhood. We worked Circle of Sisterhood into our formal recruitment marketing, ensuring that every single potential new member that signed up for recruitment got their very own Circle of Sisterhood button. We were blessed with the amazing Mandi Wise Evans, a Ball State alumna and volunteer for Circle of Sisterhood, who volunteered to come both nights of recruitment orientation and introduced all of our PNM’s to the movement.
We’ve gotten creative with our fundraising efforts, doing everything from flower sales on Valentine’s Day to a week of ‘Dining for Dollar’ nights at local restaurants. We pass a jar around every Panhellenic delegation meeting and ask for any pocket change and the best part is that individual chapters have also taken on raising funds themselves. Pi Beta Phi has twice now hosted “Pi Beta Phitness,” where for a small entry fee, women can participate in a variety of wellness classes with funds going to the Foundation. Last semester, Chi Omega held a silent auction and raised an astounding $2,000.
Most recently we hosted a viewing party for the Half the Sky documentary. This was an incredible opportunity, not only to continue to educate our sorority women, but to open it up to others on campus to join us in making a difference. Our women at Ball State are truly amazing and I’m so incredibly excited to see what they are able to accomplish in this upcoming year.
This post was written by Jennifer Pierce. She is the Program Coordinator for Student Life at Ball State University. She serves as the Panhellenic Advisor and volunteers for Circle of Sisterhood as part of the Campus Division as a Campus Relations Manager.