From classrooms to Cross Campus, last week was full of laughter as newly initiated members of three of Yale’s sororities celebrated spirit week leading up to the weekend reveal of their “big-little” pairings.
All four of Yale’s sororities — Alpha Phi, Pi Beta Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta and Kappa Kappa Gamma — individually pair their active members with newer initiates as a way to welcome them into the group and create new relationships between members of different class years. These “big-little” pairings are revealed at special parties at the end of each group’s spirit week. Alpha Phi, Pi Beta Phi and Kappa Alpha Theta celebrated spirit week last week with costumes, daily tasks and room decorating before the weekend’s reveal, while Kappa Kappa Gamma paired its members before break. “Bigs” tasked their “littles” with performing tasks such as handing out Hershey’s kisses to strangers or wearing Christmas tree onesies. According to President of Pi Beta Phi Carson Handley ’20, big and little pairings help to strengthen bonds within the sorority on both personal and community levels.
“Besides helping the new members of Pi Phi find someone they connect with, the big/little sister process allows new members to meet a number of women in our organization and get to know them on a genuine, personal level,” Handley wrote in an email to the News. “This not only strengthens our sisterhood as a chapter, but also helps our new members to begin fostering relationships within Pi Phi from the onset of their memberships.”
In order to create compatible pairings, Handley noted that new members of Pi Beta Phi go on “angel dates,” where they meet active members for a meal or coffee to get to know one another. These dates result in big and little matches, but many of the pairs who angel date “maintain strong relationships” even if they do not end up being officially paired at the end of the process.
Kappa Kappa Gamma creates pairings in a similar process called “owl dating” which matches members based on their preferences among the people they meet, according to President Katie Melbourne ’20. She added that the relationship between bigs and littles is “what each pair makes of it,” and that a lot of the pairs often get dinner together and become close friends. Additionally, most pairings are part of a larger lineage that includes “grand bigs” and “great-grand bigs” — older members of the sorority.
Alina Kramp ’22, a newly initiated member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, said that even though her sorority did not celebrate spirit week as intensely as the others, she enjoyed the lead up to the reveal party and is excited to create a relationship with her new bigs.
“The week for Kappa was more relaxed in terms of how much the littles had to do, but it was still really fun,” Kramp said. “We had a big reveal night where all the bigs had present wrappers on them with their little’s name printed, so you can unwrap your big. I’m really excited to get to know my big and lineage even more, and it’s overall been a really sweet and exciting experience.”
President of Alpha Phi Lexi Hopkins ’20 told the News that lineages — called “Phams” in her sorority — give the members a smaller and more immediate community within the larger group on campus.
Melbourne added that bigs are integral in making the sorority welcoming and that the relationships forged within the group extend beyond the members’ four years at Yale.
“My big played a huge role in making Kappa feel like a home. Everyone was so kind and welcoming, but having my big at every event and knowing I would have someone to introduce me to other sorority members was a big boost in confidence,” she said. “We truly believe that sisterhood is not just for four years but for life in Kappa, and many of the relationships we form through our chapter, especially between our bigs and littles, last far beyond when we graduate.”
Yale’s Zeta Xi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma was founded in 1987.
Audrey Steinkamp | firstname.lastname@example.org