DEAR ANNIE: I am in a sorority and proudly wear my Greek letters. However, when I go outside the campus, I receive a lot of negative feedback. People assume things about me that are not true, and this can be very hurtful. They think I haze, hang out promiscuously with frat boys, drink, do drugs and care only about getting a "Mrs." degree.
Let me tell you, this is not what Greek life is about. I, as well as a few of my sorority sisters and fraternity cousins, am on a full-ride scholarship and must maintain a 3.5 grade-point average or better. We take random drug tests to make sure our organization is clean. We have strict rules when it comes to being with members of the opposite sex, and we cannot be seen with alcohol.
My sorority is incredibly multicultural with several foreign students, one girl in a wheelchair, one with severe medical conditions and young women from all races and walks of life. We consider hazing to be domestic violence, and our philanthropy is domestic violence awareness. We raise thousands of dollars for abuse victims every semester. We pay for our badge, our shirts, our events, our formal dances, our recruitment expenses and our insurance.
Greek life is not what the movies or media make it out to be. It teaches us valuable life lessons. We meet people we can rely on and forge bonds that last a lifetime. My sisters and I are strong women. -- Alpha Chi Omega in Texas
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DEAR TEXAS: We agree that sororities get a bad rap. Sororities have always provided lifetime friendships, and these days, most sorority members do volunteer and charity work, as well.
DEAR ANNIE: I live in an area of the Midwest that has frequent tornado warnings. I have a weather radio, and I take the warnings seriously -- especially when they announce a tornado warning for my county.
I have friends, however, who think that because the local tornado siren has not gone off that there is nothing to worry about. They say I am overreacting. It is my understanding that a tornado can touch down without warning and also that the tornadoes are harder to spot at night. Your thoughts? -- Rather Be Safe Than Sorry
DEAR RATHER: We're with you. Tornadoes can develop so quickly that sometimes there isn't much warning. By the time a siren sounds, it might be too late to get to a safe place. When you hear that there is a tornado watch, it means you should be alert to the possibility of a funnel. Anyone who wants more information about storm preparedness can check online at ready.gov/tornadoes.
To write to Annie's Mailbox, send to c/o Creators Syndicate, 737 Third St., Hermosa Beach, CA 90254.