Re-imagining the Legacy Connection
By Jennifer McCreary Ford, Alpha Iota-Oklahoma
and Joyzelle Herod McCreary, Gamma Nu-North Texas
Almost thirty years ago, I became my mother’s sister when I joined Delta Gamma. I had heard about Delta Gamma my entire life, not to mention my brother and I would sing DG songs in the living room after going to a recruitment preview at the chapter my mom was advising. When I was looking at colleges, I would check if they had a Delta Gamma chapter. I saw the relationships my mom had fostered with sisters both in college and throughout her life and I knew I wanted the same thing.
When I went through recruitment, I don’t remember talking about Delta Gamma’s legacy policy. I knew I was a legacy, a double legacy in fact, as my grandmother was an alumna initiate during the establishment of Delta Psi-Baylor. I knew several of my mom’s friends had written a recommendation form for me, but my mom told me to keep an open mind. She hoped I would find a connection at DG, but ultimately she wanted me to do whatever I felt was right. What a gift it has been for nearly thirty years now to join my mom at Delta Gamma events. In the beginning of my Delta Gamma journey, I was “Joy’s daughter”, as she was kind of famous in DG, being one of the first women to introduce professional development training to our Fraternity. There was a time when my mom was known as “Jennifer’s mom” when I became a Collegiate Development Consultant and moved into my own volunteer roles. At one point we even facilitated a few training sessions together, to support each other as we continued our work with the Fraternity.
In two years, my own legacy will be off to college and we are starting to have conversations about majors, what schools she is interested in, and all of those other conversations you have as you approach those college years. Having worked in student affairs in higher education for 25 years, I love watching students come to campus for the first time and take everything in, and I love being part of their journey during their four years. I imagine it will be a little harder to watch my own child go on that journey knowing there are a lot of ups and downs along the way, but a good support network can make all the difference. We have talked about sorority life through the years and she loves to hang out in my old, beloved, comfy DG sweatshirt. I imagine she will choose to go through recruitment and of course I hope that she will find that connection with Delta Gamma, but I know she has to figure out what is right for her.
Last week, I heard the news about Delta Gamma’s update on the legacy policy, which no longer requires a chapter to obtain approval for release or prioritize legacies on their invitational or preference bid lists during recruitment. My first reaction was surprise, but after a few minutes of letting it sink in, I understood it.
No, I do not think this decision was made lightly, and no, I do not think this decision was made in direct response to the global conversation that is happening about racial injustice right now. Over the past several years, I have had the opportunity to work with current Council members as well as Executive Offices staff on exploring our recent contextualization work and what it means to be a women’s fraternity that is inclusive and welcoming of all women. Part of being inclusive is recognizing that membership should not be based on a decision made by a potential new member’s sister two years ago, or by her mother thirty years ago or by her grandmother sixty years ago.
The institution where I work had a legacy policy in admissions that did not guarantee admission but did give those applicants a slight advantage over someone who was not a legacy. There was a lot of controversy when that policy went away, and I believe some alumni truly thought it meant their child would not be able to gain admission. I have the pleasure of working with our orientation and family programs office and attend different events throughout the year and I love when a parent walks up with their child and they are sporting their institution ring and have written their class year on their nametag. To my knowledge, there has been no shortage of second, third or fourth-generation students on our campus since the policy change occurred over ten years ago.
In two years, when my daughter is off to college and hopefully going through recruitment, I know she will keep her eye on Delta Gamma. I also know that I will make sure that she and her friends have several recommendation forms sent to the chapters on their campus. I know the recruitment teams will review each form and work to ensure that we continue to have members of outstanding character, honors, talents, personal development and scholarship. What a bonus it will be when some of those new members happen to be a legacy. If that comes to fruition in our household, I will certainly be celebrating, but I will also be celebrating all of the new members who join our amazing sisterhood each year.