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College sophomore Hayden Grant and her three roommates can't wait to join Beta Gamma Pi sorority. At least that's the plan-until Myra, Bridget, and Chandra announce they're each pledging a different sorority. Can Hayden and her girls hold onto their friendship as they pursue different organizations? And speaking of pursuit, Hayden's ...
College sophomore Hayden Grant and her three roommates can't wait to join Beta Gamma Pi sorority. At least that's the plan-until Myra, Bridget, and Chandra announce they're each pledging a different sorority. Can Hayden and her girls hold onto their friendship as they pursue different organizations? And speaking of pursuit, Hayden's caught the eye of Creed, a hottie she met her first year. There's just one complication: Hayden's ex-boyfriend heads the fraternity Creed's pledging. It looks like it's going to be one crazy year of trials, tribulations, and unexpected lessons-in leadership and love.
"So you think it's okay if somebody whacks you upside the head, calls you all kinds of names, beats your behind, and who knows whatever else, Hayden Grant? I've even heard of cases where sororities make pledges perform some kind of sexual act," my mom Shirley voiced in anger, as my caramel face turned pale.
"Mom! I can't believe you would go there with me."
"What, Hayden? Don't be shocked. I know how bad you want to be a Beta and I know you might lose your mind to get what you want. Plus, you're about to be a sophomore in college, at a predominately African-American school. I know there are several nice-looking young men around grabbing your attention. Something made your grades slip last semester. I think you're still pure, but we need to talk about sex."
"I can't talk about this with my mom. I just can't," I said, shyly turning my head and twirling my mid-length do.
"Better she talk about it with you," my sister, younger by four years, popped into my room and said.
"Hailey, have you been standing there the whole time? Quit being nosy," my mom scolded and shooed her away.
"We were talking about being a Beta, Mom. We weren't talking about me and sex," I quickly reminded her.
"Well, I'm not done. I think any young lady that makes smart choices will do that across the board. If you make wise decisions, particularly when the alternative is giving it up to some boy who the next day probably won't know you exist. You could wind up pregnant or with some disease. Isn't it better to stay away from all that? Someone who's strong enough to resist temptation and stands for what God says is right, will not want to be a part of some group that thinks the only way you can get in is to participate in some form of illegal activity that the organization doesn't even tolerate," she said, getting louder and louder with each sentence.
"Okay Mom, I get it! You don't have to go on and on and on about it," I said to her, extremely frustrated.
I didn't want to go there with her, but it seemed to me like she needed to get her groove on. My dad Harry was away at war. He's an officer in the Navy and his girl had too much idle time on her hands. So much so that she was all up in my business.
My mom knew I wanted to be a member of Beta Gamma Pi ever since she pledged the organization's alumnae chapter when I was in the fifth grade. After she became a member, I remember many nights during my childhood when she was away with the service-oriented organization, working in the community by taking food to the poor, being there for the elderly, and helping the uneducated gain knowledge. Even though part of me resented not having all of her time, it just fueled me, excited me, and made me want to strive to become a member one day. My mom had wanted to pledge as an undergraduate when she was in college, but due to females tripping, she didn't. I had a deep longing to obtain that goal for her.
My mom came over and got right in my face. "Let me just tell you this really quickly. I desperately want you to be a Beta. But if you participate in any of that foolishness and anything happens, I don't want you calling me. I don't want you thinking that I can help save the line. None of that. Do you understand? I'm telling you now, I don't support hazing and in the end it only divides. Be a leader on that campus, Hayden Grant."
She went on to explain, for the fiftieth time, the legitimate steps to becoming a Beta. First, there was rush, where an informational session is held and the members of the organization explain all about what they stand for and what they do. They also distribute application packets to the prospective candidates, which need to be turned in by a certain date. After the packets are returned and reviewed by the members of the organization, then comes the interview. But not everyone will get one. After the interview, if you receive enough votes from the sisters of Beta Gamma Pi, then you become a part of the pledge line. After handing in the money for the pledge fee, a Pi induction ceremony is held. There are five gem ceremonies and an Eagle weekend hosted by the alumnae chapter, which pledges must attend. Next there is an intense week of studying the history of the sorority and a major exam is given before the candidates are ready to cross over and become sisters of Beta Gamma Pi.
"You participate in any other activity and it's hazing. Got it?"
I nodded. Of course I heard her, but I couldn't say what I would and wouldn't do once pressure from the Betas was applied. I didn't want to be ostracized and considered paper because I wouldn't participate in a few little uncomfortable things. I mean how bad could hazing really be, right?
There are certain rules that go along with the way many people think is the best way to pledge. First, pledging on the collegiate level carries more weight than pledging in an alumnae chapter. I thought this was crazy. However, the rationale is that collegiate chapters really make members do things way over and above what the standard rules call for. Also, many believe that if you don't go through the collegiate process then you are not a real pledge, only a paper one. And let's face it, if you have the chance, who wants to be called paper? Definitely not me.
Then there is the legacy rule. In some sororities if your mother is a member and you have the qualifications, then there is no vote necessary. You automatically become a member. But, with Beta Gamma Pi, that isn't the case. Since my mom didn't pledge on the collegiate level, their preferred methods, I knew I was going to have to pay for what she didn't go through. I was ready for it, because I knew if I made line I could legitimize my mom's place in the sorority.
"I'm gonna make you proud, Mom. You don't have to worry," I said, stroking her verbally and psychologically.
"Honey, all you need to do is concentrate on your grades and be the best Hayden you know how to be. If the Betas don't want you, it's their loss. You can always pledge the way I did," she said in a sweet tone, so I'd keep my hope. But I wasn't having it.
My mom wasn't all excited about the way she pledged. She knew the stigma attached to alumnae pledge methods. Though I knew deep in my heart that being put through an intense pledge process didn't make one a better member, if I had the opportunity to get all my props, I had to do it. Why would she think I wouldn't want all the respect?
My mother continued, "Now see, I can tell by your face you think pledging on the alumnae level is not kosher."
"Well, it was your dream to pledge undergrad," I quickly reminded her.
"Yeah, but just because that didn't work out doesn't mean that I would go back and trade my experience for anything. I was so connected with the ladies on my line. And quite honestly it was absolutely the best timing. God knew what He was doing. And Hayden, for you to have the outcome that He wants for your life, you have to ignore what others say and just focus on what is right. You know how to be a strong person, but a strong leader knows that God's way is golden. So seek Him and figure out what He wants for you. Plus, I truly now believe pledging on an alumnae level is the best way to join the organization," she said with her worried eyes locked on mine.
I smiled, feeling she believed those last words. I hugged her to let her know though I wanted a different experience, I was going to be okay. Then I was off to college. Western Smith University, here I come. It was time to get my sophomore year started.
We hugged, and then I was off. It was time to get my sophomore year started.
When I pulled up to the two-story apartment complex, I was ecstatic to see the cars of my three suitemates. Bridget was an over-the-top primadonna but she was cute with it though. Like me, she was from Little Rock, Arkansas. She had pretty banana colored skin and had a practically new, white Jaguar that went with her prim and proper personality perfectly. Clad in Sperry boat shoes, a lily pink Ralph Lauren polo shirt and a denim mini, Bridget was the fashion queen of our crew. We all admired her style. It seemed like she was up on the latest fashions even before they hit the stores. But for all her coolness, last year she had lunch with her mom three times a week. Who does that in college?
Then there was Myra. Our skin colors were in the same caramel brown family. She had a red Jeep shining in the lot. It wasn't brand new, but she took care of it. She was from Alabama, but her grandmother lived in Arkansas. Myra didn't sport the newest clothes, but I'd never seen hand-me-downs look so sassy. She was strong willed and loved having everything her way. Though that could be very annoying, I loved her.
And then there was the gorgeous dark mocha sister, Chandra. I guess out of all of them, she was my girl. She was so focused on her career goals-I longed to have her drive for a fulfilling life. Her black Ford Escort was on its last leg, but it was in the parking lot, which meant she was in the house. She turned heads all the time with her body-hugging ensembles. But I had to give it to her. The girl wore everything well.
Without even worrying about my bags, I grabbed my pocketbook and headed to the front door. Our apartment was the bomb. Each of us had our own spacious bedroom with freshly painted blond colored walls and full bathrooms to ourselves. We shared a joint kitchen and living room. None of us minded sharing these public spaces, but I think we all agreed that having our own private commodities was a nice alternative to living in last year's community dorms.
No more fresh meat on campus. We were sophomores. Yeah baby! We were really ready to change the world. We had our own place. We had big dreams. Now, we were ready to make them come true.
"Hey y'all!" I screamed when all three of them came to the door and gave me a hug.
Immediately, I could tell from their faces that something wasn't right. Something was definitely going on. What now, I thought. Myra and Bridget quickly headed into the living room.
"Dang, y'all got into it already?" I screamed out, madder than my dad would be if I'd told him I wrecked my brand new Cadillac CTS.
"It's the two of them," Chandra said, pointing away from herself. "Don't even look at me. I think they're crazy for even talking about them dumb sororities in the first place."
"Wait a minute, wait a minute, what's going on, girls?" I handed Chandra my purse and went over to Myra and Bridget. As I placed my arms around the two of them, I knew we couldn't have any beef this early. "Y'all, we've got our own place. We're not supposed to be arguing. We packed all that stuff away in the freshman year drama suitcase. I'm ready for a fresh start with my closest girls. I'm ready for us to have a super year. It's going to be a great time pledging Beta this year. There's no need to argue and fuss about when we're going to pledge now. They may not have a line this fall. But whenever they do, we'll be on it."
"You better tell her!" Myra said, looking at Bridget, removing my arm. "Because I now know Rho Tau Nu is the only way for me."
Okay, at that point I was really confused. Why was Myra talking about pledging the brown and peach? We hadn't had that in the plan. All last year we were at every single Beta Gamma Pi function. We didn't attend any other events. What was this?
"And that's where we are very different because I want to try and be a member of Mu Eta Mu, okay?" Bridget said to me. "I'm sick of that wench thinking her way is right."
"Who you calling a ..." Myra uttered as she tried to reach over and strangle Bridget.
As I kept them apart, I scratched my head. Now my other girl was talking about wearing silver and gold? What in the world was going on? They knew the sunrise and sunset colors of lavender and turquoise were the colors we were going to sport.
So I turned around and looked at Chandra. "Help me out here! What are they talking about? What changed?"
"Um, again, I'm repeating-I don't know why y'all are thinking about any of them crazy sororities," Chandra said.
"Because they're founded on Christian principles," Bridget uttered, as she rolled her eyes at Chandra.
"And it's a great social organization to network and meet new people to do other big things, and it's a community service thing," I said. "But y'all ... Beta Gamma Pi? I thought we were all going to be Betas? Everybody. All four of us."
"My mom's a Nu," Myra said.
"We know that, but you said you knew she'd been inactive all your life so they couldn't be about much," I said, reminding her of our conversation before we all went our separate ways last summer.
Myra just shrugged her shoulders. "Well, over the summer she joined a local chapter and I met a bunch of the ladies. They are professional women who really are making a difference in their careers. Plus, they are the largest sorority for a reason. Rho Tau Nu is doing major projects. RTN, Hayden. Sorry, girl. You can switch too."
Bridget grabbed my hand and said, "My mom's not Greek, but I've done a lot of research over the summer and Mu Eta Mu is for me."
"All of y'all are stupid," Chandra said.
"Just don't none of you talk to me," Myra said, going to her room.
"Like that will bother me," Bridget said as she went upstairs and slammed her door.
Chandra plopped on the couch and said, "All of you guys will need me before I need you. Those Greek letters will let you down. Trust me."
My world was caving in on me. Maybe we hadn't really finalized it, but in my mind it was already decided. Besides my three girls, I didn't care who else made the line. I had no other friends at Western Smith College. I'd only gone there because my Uncle Wade was the president of the school. I knew that a lot of people pledged sororities to get more status, to find themselves a clique. But I already had it going on in my own mind. My grades were good. My uncle didn't have to look out for me and I had the best group of girlfriends. But if we weren't going to pledge together the way I imagined it, if we weren't going to stand together-not only in a line but for causes to make the community better-did I want to do it alone? And if there was any hazing, without my three girls, could I take it? I had walked into a mess and I had no idea how it could be straightened out.
Later that evening, I was at Wal-Mart buying my own groceries. No one in the house was talking to each other. Myra had put labels with her name on stuff in the refrigerator and Bridget had put all her items in one section. This was not how I thought our sophomore year was going to begin, but I needed to make sure I could eat, so I went out and got the necessary items.
As I came out of the store, a girl wearing a Beta Gamma Pi jacket turned to me and said, "Hey, we're having a party tonight. I'm sure you want to be there. Bring some friends!" she said, and handed me a flyer for the party.
I was caught off guard when she winked at me. Was the word out? Did every Beta know I wanted to be in their group? Or maybe all the events I attended last year did make a difference.
"You're planning to come, right? You know my name, don't you?"
Shoot, I knew she was a junior. I knew she was on the dance team. I knew I'd seen her before. This was all a part of pledging. It was an intimidation factor. The way she was staring at me like I'd better know her name was a lot to take in.
"Keisha! You're Keisha!" I said finally.
She looked me up and down. It was like she was bipolar. When she first approached me she was kind, now she was tripping.
"I'm Hayden," I said, as I extended my hand and she backed her arms away.
"I'll know your name when I need to know it. You coming tonight or what?"
I had a blank stare on my face. There was no way I could tell her that I wasn't coming. I didn't want to go to a party by myself, but I couldn't let her down either. She'd report back to the Betas and cross me off the list before I even got a chance to interview.
"I want to be there," I said nervously.
"Okay, I like you. You didn't know how to tell me no, but you told me something I wanted to hear. Smart. Alright. I'll look for you this evening. I know you won't let me down. If you do, you'll regret it, and that is a threat. Be scared," Keisha said, as she sharply turned and went to another group of girls clustered in the store handing out party flyers.
Coming back into the house, I yelled, "Hey everybody! Important apartment meeting."
"Apartment meeting? Where'd you get that from?" Chandra said, eyeing me down like I needed to check myself into the loony bin.
I looked at her and uttered, "I'm trying here, okay? Work with me, we don't need to have any discord or any strife. I figured out a way we can all push aside the tension."
Excerpted from Work What You Got by Stephanie Perry Moore Copyright © 2009 by Stephanie Perry Moore. Excerpted by permission.
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Posted January 1, 2009
Western Smith College sophomore Hayden Grant looks forward to pledging for the Beta Gamma Pi sorority along with her BFFs. However she is taken aback when Myra, Bridget, and Chandra decide not to join her at Beta Gamma Pi; the four roommates seem to be drifting apart. Although she has issues with the hazing, Hayden goes along with the herd mentality saying nothing. She regrets not voicing her reservations when a pledge nearly dies from a particularly nasty assault led by Keisha the Betas Big Sister Mean Machine.<BR/><BR/>Many of the sisters are expelled leaving Hayden to become the local chapter president; a position she did not want at least at this time. She also deals with her attraction to Creed who is pledging to a fraternity in which Hayden¿s ex-boyfriend Butch is president. She does not want to cause Creed any problems. As she works on clearing the name of her sorority, and tries to resolve her relationship with Creed and her three BFFs, Hayden depends on her Christian faith to guide her to do what is ethically right.<BR/><BR/>This is an interesting young adult relationship drama that encourages readers to not just join the line if it feels wrong. Hayden who tells the tale is a solid lead character as she regrets not speaking out against hazing. Her friend Penelope is one of the Betas kicked out though she did not participate in the hazing; standing silently on the sidelines doing nothing is almost as bad as performing the abusive deeds. Although the use of Ebonics especially by professionals like Hayden¿s uncle who is the college president is a detractor (personally prefer professionals sound educated like Obama does), fans will enjoy the first Beta Gamma Pi inspirational tale. <BR/><BR/>Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 2, 2008
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