245.

Nothing has ever made me angrier than this article by Total Sorority Move. Not because I have had boyfriends that cheated on me, but because this is not representative of sororities and it is on a website for sororities. This Cosmopolitan article is just stupid and this article, from Buzzfeed, is one of MANY that hopped on the anti-sorority bandwagon without doing the proper research. Just one look at the snapchat and you can clearly see that it was tampered with by looking at the g’s.

These articles, these events do not define Greek life. They don’t even scratch the surface.

Yes, we wear big t-shirts, and we chant and we post lots of Instagram pictures of our food and letters and we go to fraternity parties. But that’s the very least of what we do.

Last year, Alpha Phi chapters across the nation raised over $2 million for the Alpha Phi Foundation which supports women’s cardiac care. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among women. When tragedy hit at UCSB, on the Alpha Phi front lawn, nationals sprung into action and created the Hand-To-Hand grant, in order to help sisters through personal tragedies.

Talk to any member of any sorority, and she’ll more than likely rattle off the fundraisers she and her sisters participate in. Maybe the $5 million endowment campaigns to help lead their sorority into the future (looking at you, Kappa Alpha Theta) or that Delta Delta Delta committed to raising $60 million in 10 years for St. Jude. They probably won’t mention the Fiji mixer last night or that her mom will get mad at her for adding to her t-shirt collection.

During rush, I told a girl (who later accepted a bid from Alpha Phi) that my absolute favorite thing I’d ever seen was this picture on Pinterest that, ironically, the Alpha Phi International office, shared today:

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This is the truest thing I’ve seen. Except for I have 245 sisters, not just 160. Amy told me that you could “feel the sisterhood in the room” during Pref. That that was what she was looking for. And we have that.

We established a “risk management page” to help keep each other accountable. The most notable thing on the page is that every weekend, one of the girls writes the date and anyone who will be staying sober is free to comment their number. No judgement. No questions asked. Usually, at least ten of your sisters are willing to come pick you up if you need help.

That doesn’t come with “paying for friends.”

Neither does heartbreak.

On Saturday, September 6, 2014, I received a text, then a Facebook post, then a call, alerting me that there had been an emergency in my chapter and we were having a meeting. My stomach dropped and I spent an hour and a half wondering what had happened, refusing to text most of my sisters for fear that they wouldn’t text back.

Our president couldn’t even make it through the first five words without crying. Neither could we. There had been a car wreck and the unthinkable had happened.

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I was friends with Kylie. I knew Kylie. One of the pictures of her on TV is with my puppy, at my house. My little and some of my closest friends were best friends with her. I talked to her almost every day during work week. I saw her last week. She made me laugh almost every time I saw her. This isn’t real – this can’t be real. She was 20, almost 21. 20 year olds are supposed to live forever.

This isn’t allowed to happen to my sisters.

It wasn’t drunk driving. It wasn’t hazing. It wasn’t drugs or alcohol. It was a car wreck, with her brother, on the way home to Austin. You can’t shake your head and wrinkle your nose and say, “That’s why you shouldn’t join a sorority.” It could happen to anyone. But it happened to us.

My views on my sorority have changed a lot in the past year, from something tedious that my mom made me join into something that I would protect with my life. I found some of my best friends and I am lucky enough to have the most perfect little in the entire world. I’ve helped find two amazing new pledge classes and I’ve said good-bye to two older ones as well, women who I have looked up to and sought help from while I have been finding my way. I dread saying good-bye to PC’11. I’ve learned that even if someone is your same age, they’re watching to see what you do and that sometimes, one mistake can damage a lot of people.

What I learned Saturday was both heartbreaking and comforting: if something were to happen to me, to anyone else in my chapter, there are 245 women whose lives would be changed dramatically.

There are girls who didn’t know Kylie at all who are affected. There are girls who loved Kylie as much as her own family who are affected. There are sisters who have graduated, who have had to drop out of Alpha Phi, who are affected.

No words can describe what it feels like to hear that someone you know and love has passed away. Your heart stops. Your stomach sinks. Your mind goes completely blank but is racing at the same time. You’ll spend hours, days wondering why God does things that make no sense. Why life isn’t fair. Why do bad things happen to the best people? Even that doesn’t do the feeling justice. I would never wish it upon anyone.

These aren’t things I have answers for. My heart aches for my sisters. For her family, who lost two children in a moment. I know that nothing will ever fill the void left behind in our chapter. There is not a person or a picture or a ceremony that can ever make up for what we’ve lost by losing Kylie.

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But I also know that in sorrow comes strength. While we grieve for Kylie, we celebrate her life. We will always regret things – not telling her how beautiful or kind she was every moment, not appreciating how lucky we were to be in the presence of such a good soul while we had her – and we will always catch ourselves trying to find her in a crowd or send her a text asking to go to lunch. A part of us will always hurt, will always feel empty, and there will always be one empty seat at chapter. It will never feel real. It will never be comfortable. It will never, ever be something that we come to terms with.

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But she will never leave us.

We will gather ourselves and our sisters up off the ground and, hand in hand, we will find our strength. A strength we will only find from Kylie guiding us forward. A piece of our puzzle will always be just a few steps ahead of us, never missing, but simply just out of reach. A guardian sister to cry out to, to get frustrated with, and to protect us. Because if there is one thing Kylie will be doing, it’s watching our backs. Where we go, she will follow, and where we fall, she will pick us up.

There is no love like your sisters’ love. All 245 of them. aoe

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Rest easy, beautiful. “If He brings you to it, He will bring you through it.”

Please take a minute to donate to the Murphy Memorial Scholarships in honor of Kylie & Ryan. Even $5 can make a difference.

17 thoughts on “245.

  1. Beautifully written. As an alumnae of TTU and KD…I can relate to everything you wrote…and I’m proud of you for sharing what I’m sure was something incredibly personal.

    1. True, but little high schoolers don’t understand it’s not real life. If you’re going to use fraternity or sorority in your name, you should at least be more cautious of the damaging effects of articles that make it seem like every sorority girl is “the other woman!” 🙂

      1. Agreed. And that’s not even fully true, there are plenty of actual serious articles women have written on TSM at least. Ones that are actually pretty good. So that just makes the ones that you mentioned above stick more in people’s minds because they seem serious as well.

        Thank you for writing this article. The articles you mentioned make me sick as well. Satirical or not, they don’t paint us in a very good light at all; what we stand for, what we do, and the love within a sisterhood that you talked about.

        I’m so sorry for your loss. A sister can never be replaced, but you are right in that Kylie is still there with you, though she may be physically absent. And being a sister like you, there is no doubt in my mind that you will see her again one day.

        Love and prayers from Texas State University

        Kaitlyn Dismuke
        Gamma Phi Beta (ΓΦΒ)

  2. This is beautiful. A beautiful and heartbreaking glimpse into sorority life. Let their be comfort in knowing that that you have sisters across the world supporting you and your chapter in this difficult time. Love and aoe

  3. What an amazing article! I lost one of my closest pledge sisters almost 5 years ago and it still hasn’t gotten any easier. One of the toughest things, though, is when the world tries to turn your tragedy into their political gain, even when the two are completely independent of the other.
    You’ve done a wonderful job at pointing out the beauty of sisterhood, regardless of the situation. The Greek community will always fall under scrutiny, but hold fast to each other and your founding principles to show the world know you’re making a difference.
    Praying for your chapter and everyone your sweet sister affected.

    Sigma and Pan love!

  4. Beautifully written. My heart and prayers are with your chapter during this tough time.
    AOE. ❤
    Christi F.
    Beta Sigma-UT PC'11

  5. Even though I’ve been out of sorority life for a few* years now, (TTU ZTA PC ’05), your post brought me to tears today. You eloquently put into words what it means to be a member of a Greek organization – and that feeling will stay with you for a lifetime. My heart goes out to your chapter and this incredibly difficult time ya’ll are facing.

  6. This is beautifully written and it has been shared by so many that know and love Kylie here in her hometown. Thank you for sharing this article and for shedding the light on all of the positive and wonderful things about Greek Life. My son is a Delt there at TTU and we have never been more proud of him and his dedication.

    A mom’s perspective….

  7. Those articles make me sick too…satire or not they don’t paint a very good picture of Greek life or what we stand for, or the love within a sisterhood like you wrote about.

    I’m so sorry about your loss…a sister can never be replaced. But it is true that she will always be there, even though she may be physically gone. And being a sister like you, there’s no doubt in my mind you’ll see her again one day.

    Love and prayers from Texas State
    Kaitlyn Dismuke
    Gamma Phi Beta (ΓΦΒ)

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