Facebook page creates sense of community among women on campus

Screenshot of WKU Soroity Swap Facebook group courtesy of Ellie Tolbert

Ellie Tolbert

Chances are, if you are a girl at WKU, you’ve at least heard of Sorority Swap.

For those who haven’t, WKU Sorority Swap is a Facebook page where women at WKU can buy and sell items, ask for suggestions on classes or local businesses, or find housing and roommates. The page was created on April 12, 2017 and now has over 5,700 members. Despite the name, women don’t need to be in a sorority to join the group.

Lydia Bowlds, founder of WKU Sorority Swap, wasn’t in a sorority during her time at WKU. She made the page with her freshman year roommate Savannah Allen. Since Bowlds wasn’t in a sorority, it was difficult to get the word out. Allen, who was a member of Alpha Gamma Delta, added her sorority sisters to the page, and it took off from there.

“Don’t let the name fool you, you don’t have to be sorority affiliated to be a member,” Bowlds said. “Anyone at WKU identifying as female in any way can join.”

She got the idea from a similar page in Lexington, where she’s from. In high school, she was a part of UK Sorority Swap. She said that page was frustrating because it was too big, making it unreliable and mismanaged.

“There were people on that page that never intended to go to UK,” Bowlds said. “There were men and high schoolers. I wanted this to be smaller, keeping it to just WKU students and not just random Bowling Green community members.”

She thinks the page has grown so much because it gives women a sense of community. There’s always an influx of members at the beginning of the fall semester because girls are joining sororities, and then slowly non-sorority girls will trickle in throughout the year.

Bowlds graduated in 2019 and is currently finishing the master’s program at WKU in organizational communication this May. She’s looking to move to Florida with her boyfriend and is no longer the admin for the page. She said when she made the Facebook page, she never thought it would one day exist without her.

“When I was 18, I didn’t think this would have a life outside of me,” Bowlds said. “When I look now, I’m not shocked.”

Eleri Dye is one of the current admins for the page. The page was passed down to Dye about a year and a half ago after Bowlds posted in the group she was looking for new people to take it over. Dye responded to the post, and after a short interview process, Bowlds thought she was a good fit. Dye is also not in a sorority so once she got the job, she brought along her friend Maddie Scott, who is a member of Chi Omega, to be co-admin.

Dye said managing the page isn’t a huge time commitment. Her main job is taking care of requests to join and if someone reports a post.

The page is private, so you must request to join. You can be invited by someone already in the group, but the admins must still accept or deny the invitation. When Bowlds started the page, members in the group could add other members, but Dye changed that setting because she realized boys were getting in.

“It was set to anyone in the group could accept invitations, but we changed it to just us,” Dye said. “It is just a girl’s group. Sometimes people may post personal information on there.”

Dye said she is constantly declining requests to join. When a person requests to join, they are asked two questions: do you go to Western, and do you live in Bowling Green during the school year. If you’re a female who answers yes to both of those, you will likely be accepted to join the page.

She and Scott are also responsible for handling posts that get reported or break the community guidelines of the page.

“If someone reports something, I get a notification,” Dye said. “I will message the person to see if they care to change their post, or I’ll just take it down.”

She said she is always taking down posts of people trying to sell fake IDs. Although the page isn’t actually WKU affiliated, she doesn’t want people selling anything illegal on a page with the school’s name.

Dye graduated WKU in December with a degree in healthcare administration and a certification in long-term care. She plans to pass down the page as well after this semester the same way Bowlds did.

Bowlds is happy Sorority Swap is a legacy she can leave with WKU. She said although she doesn’t get much recognition from it, she always enjoys the surprise people have when they learn she started it. She is still deciding whether to leave the page when she moves out of Bowling Green.

“I won’t need to be in Bowling Green for any reason, so I will probably eventually leave,” Bowlds said. “I wouldn’t mind to stay though because that’s my baby.”

Managing Editor Ellie Tolbert can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @eleanortolbert4.