It’s that time of year again, ladies. Slip into those flowy tops and uncomfortable shoes, because rush season has officially begun! What exactly does rush entail, though? Do movies like Legally Blonde and television shows like Greek really portray the sorority experience in an authentic light? As a veteran of sorority recruitment, there are a few things you should know to better prepare yourself for rush.
The first round of recruitment seems to be relatively similar from university to university. According to University of Delaware junior Danielle Jelensperger of Alpha Xi Delta,, first sets are very casual and brief; potential new members (PNM) spend two separate days visiting all of the Panhellenic houses on campus. At each sorority, the freshman (and some sophomore) “rushees” speak to four or five sisters about topics ranging from events of the summer to academic concentration considerations.
At the University of Michigan, first rounds reflect Delaware’s methods with the added component of a skit for the potential new members. Tropical setups, army themes, and even winter wonderland motifs are paired with singing and dancing routines to entertain their visitors as well as give them a taste of how united and fun a sisterhood can be. According to Penn State University senior and Alpha Xi Delta member Michelle Asmara, skits are the most telling part of rush: “If you don’t have the same humor as your potential sisters, you won’t be joining the right group.”
Another bizarre but interesting tidbit about sorority recruitment is the concept of “dirty rushing,” said Asmara. During the time frame of rush, it is absolutely forbidden for a sister to talk to a potential new member outside of formal recruitment visits. Unfortunately, when you add a Saturday morning football pregame and one too many red Solo cups to the mix , actually pulling this off is next to impossible. Sororities can receive serious rush infractions for being seen talking to PNMs, so do not get offended when the rusher who had your freshman year professor, studied in Greece for a summer and also LOVES your shoes (yes, this is a typical rush conversation) doesn’t acknowledge you on central campus. It’s not because she doesn’t like you; it’s because she wants to keep her sorority in Panhellenic ’s good graces. On rounds where food is served, “if a potential new member so much as walks out of the [house] with a napkin or a cup, our chapter can get into major trouble,” said Asmara. Technically, this is considered to be giving a gift to the PNM, another form of dirty rushing.
Unfortunately, there is a darker side of rush that is not nearly as cut-and-dry as the information above. As disappointing as it is, girls will be girls, and appearance is taken into account. According to a sorority member who asked that her name and school remain anonymous, there is, in some sororities, an uncommon but still disheartening aspect of voting. She describes the process as “a very judgmental part of rush where some sororities put the PNMs’ photos up on a large screen at the end of the night when the chapter is deciding who to put through to the next round.”
The other negative characteristic of rush is its subjectivity. For example, there are sometimes girls who are accepted into a sorority not because of compatible personalities, but because of legacy—when a PNM’s family member was once a chapter affiliate. Also, luck of the draw plays a large part in rush; your experience at a sorority rush event depends on who you speak to. If you don’t mesh well with your rusher, it may be more difficult to return for a following set.
So now that I’ve given you a small peek into the inner workings of sorority recruitment, don’t be discouraged. There are two sides to every coin, but rush is supposed to be a fun and exciting way to become acquainted with other girls on campus. And who knows, the girl waiting in line next to you during rush could end up being the maid of honor standing beside you on your wedding day!
Photo: by Samantha Scharmett