Little known fact about me: I am a sister of Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA or Zeta), which, at the time I was initiated, was the second largest women’s fraternal organization in the country.
During my pledge period (Spring 2001), the chapter was in the process of converting from a local sorority to a ZTA chapter. A TLC (traveling leadership consultant) stayed on campus and guided the sisters in the ways of the ZTA.
I can’t remember if I was obligated to wear my pledge pin all of the time, but I certainly remember that when I did have it on, I was to look my best. We had to learn all the symbols of ZTA, as well as memorize the creed, before we were initiated.
On April 21, 2001, a few chapters from New Jersey, The Bay State alumnae chapter, and the national president came to install the 229th Link of ZTA: Kappa Omicron of Merrimack College. A few of the senior sisters were initiated first, while two groups of newbies waited around in the campus center. We all had on ritual white (which was IMPOSSIBLE to find in early spring – these were the days before everything was a mouse click and shipping charges away).
I participated in my initiation, and then watched a second. After all of the sisters were initiated, the chapter was installed. I am still very proud to be a charter member of Kappa Omicron.
The following fall, I decided to transfer to a college near my home, but still participated in the pledge process and the initiation of new sisters. I remember it being special. I remember knowing I always had someone to talk to or hang out with, apart from my friends that weren’t in ZTA. Truth be told, I never felt 100% comfortable at Merrimack (which is why I transferred), but I always felt at home at ZTA activities. I wish I could have justified staying there, just for ZTA, but I couldn’t.
I returned to visit Merrimack for some kind of formal the following spring and basically made an ass out of myself. Very un-ZTA-like to get drunk and pass out in the bathroom at the hotel where the formal was being held! Yikes. Suffice to say I never returned to campus or attended any other ZTA events. I was horribly embarrassed about how I behaved and really felt like I alienated a lot of my sisters.
Every few months, I get a copy of ZTA’s member publication, Themis. It always renews a sense of nostalgia and excitement, and then regret. I hate that I only really witnessed one other initiation, that I only remember a few parts of the rituals, and that the meanings behind ZTA symbols has been lost to me. I occasionally look to see if any alumnae chapters have sprung up in my area (they haven’t), but then wonder if only a partial ZTA would really fit in.
That being said, I still get all excited when I run into a fellow ZTA. Two friends from law school were ZTA’s, and a few years ago I ran into a ZTA baby from a Rhode Island Chapter at a local movie theatre. It’s nice that facebook has put me back in touch with some of my pledge sisters, but I still regret not really being able to integrate ZTA in my life.