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A sorority is an association composed of women who have common interests or who share a common trait. One of the most famous types is the North American college sorority, although similar college groups can be found in other regions of the world as well. Women can also form social associations outside of the college framework. The primary goal of such groups is to create a bond among the women through their common membership. Though these associations are typically composed only of women, some do allow men to join.
In college sororities, prospective members usually attend events during a period early in the semester that is designated as “rush week.” During rush week, people can visit different groups to get a feel for each one's members and style. If a student wants to join, she submits an application, and the existing members vote on the applications at the end of rush week, using their interactions with prospective members as a guideline. Many also have academic requirements, such as a minimum grade point average.
Once accepted into the group, new members undergo initiation to become full members. Initiations at sororities and fraternities are infamous, and some colleges have enacted rules designed to protect student safety in initiations. Dangerous hazing activities are often explicitly banned, and pledges are informed that they have the right to refuse to participate in initiation activities that conflict with their safety or religious beliefs. Despite this, initiation can be dangerous or traumatizing for some initiates.
Most sororities are identified with Greek letters that are often linked with their mottoes. Some examples include Alpha Delta Pi, the oldest sorority, along with Alpha Omicron Pi, Alpha Gamma Delta, and Alpha Kappa Alpha. Though these groups traditionally only accepted women, some do accept men as full members.
Members are often called "sisters," and they are entitled to certain benefits, including residence in a sorority house, access to scholarships, and the ability to network with current members and alumni. Many women also enjoy the support network of a group of women who share common bonds. Sisters also work together on projects, most notably charity projects.
Sorority life is often stereotyped by people who have not participated in one, and members are sometimes dismissed as airheaded or stupid. In fact, these groups typically do a great deal of good for their communities and members, and members are often extremely intelligent and motivated women who excel in leadership, sports, and academics.