Once upon a time, a group of sisters and I had a Facebook group message. It wasn’t a big deal–it was just how we communicated with each other when it came to news about fraternity parties and gossip about the sorority across the row. Then, the day after our spring formal, we were all mysteriously summoned to standards. The girls on our standards committee had found out about this group message, deemed it exclusive against the rest of the house, and put us on a chillingly strict and lengthy probation that ended with us giving speeches during chapter about the importance of sisterhood. We became suspicious of each other, because standards told us that one of us in the group message had reported it to them. Not only was the group message deleted, but many friendships within this group were torn apart and never repaired.
While I’d love to believe that the girls on standards rule with a fair and just hand, it’s just not always the case. Sometimes they start as darlings who let the power go to their heads. Sometimes they are twisted and manipulated by the advisers who really need to understand that the school isn’t how it used to be when they were members. Regardless of how it happens, the board is never perfect.
I’ll take a moment to vouch for standards. Those girls are not always the bad guys, even though there are times when they must play the role–but that’s when a situation actually needs standards. If you get caught banging some guy in the chapter room, that’s your own damn fault and you better start worshipping them. If you’re behind on your dues, it’s nothing personal that they have to figure out a payment plan or even penalize you. There’s some gray area, too. For example, a girl on standards may ask you to take down red Solo cup photos, which could probably be handled outside of an official meeting, but these sort of meetings are harmless and productive, for the most part.
But sometimes standards sticks its nose in places where it doesn’t belong, and that’s where the hated abuse of power comes into play. This was the case for my group message, may it rest in peace. I guarantee you that we were not the only girls in the house who had (or have) a private group message. In fact, before getting called in, we heard from other friends that the reason standards wasn’t focusing on the rampant drinking at formal per usual was because the girls on the board were “getting ready to take down a group of girls in the house.” That’s a legitimate quote. If you are ever called into a standards meeting for something similarly stupid and unnecessary, here are some simple tips to help you keep your cool, stay professional, and stay sisterly.
Yes, just like Scar and the hyenas. Standards is confidential, but you can generally guess why you’ve been summoned. I had no idea why, until the rest of the girls in the group message all revealed that they had appointments the same day. Then we knew what sort of thing to expect.
While you may have zero respect for the girls on standards in that moment, they are still your sisters. More importantly in that moment, they have the power. Regardless of whatever sick twist of house drama and politics brought you into the meeting, for the duration of your meeting, they have pure control over the outcome.
Be Honest And Challenge Them
Chances are that whatever allegation you are charged with is based on a kernel of truth. If it involves other sisters, don’t throw them under the bus or speak for them. Only tell your side of the story, without giving too many excuses or being overly defensive. Since this is a pointless meeting, you have the freedom to state your mind. This isn’t a case of everyone in the room knowing that you clearly violated about 30 rules by getting caught chugging vodka in the kitchen. Don’t be afraid to ask why this action merits standards intervention and punishment. Ask them why they are concerned about it. If this is really a case of the officer picking on the member, fucking go ahead and call out that officer. Abuse of power is only acceptable to an extent, and not in standards officer positions.
Take What They Say With A Grain Of Salt
Standards is not God. They are your sisters. Even though they may dictate the outcome of this situation, do not take it all to heart. Chances are, if it’s a situation that involves other sisters, they will try to manipulate it. Don’t let them. They aren’t police officers, they just have a special charm on their badge.
Swallow Your Medicine
…then keep doing what you’re doing. Depending on the action, either everyone will know about it or no one will. React accordingly. Remember that it’s all politics, do your punishment, and move on as best as you can. We kept the group message going until the friendships between three girls in it fell apart from lack of trust. To this day, I have no idea if I believe the girls on standards when they said they discovered the message through one of us, but I refuse to entertain the thought. Everyone involved is still your sister at the end of the day. Standards often includes a sort of punishment for breaking confidentiality, but venting gossip with a sister is what builds the strongest sisterhood of all. Don’t forget that.
And just remember–you’ll vote on a new board soon enough.