You may notice that your Instagram feed suddenly flooded with girls dressed up in different themes, excitingly dancing and having fun in front of their sorority houses. You may also notice that some of your friends recently gained legions of followers, all girls proudly touting their Greek letters in their Instagram bios.
This celebration culminates in the rushing process at the University of Maryland.
For those potentially interested in joining a sorority, or if you came here out of curiosity, bid day concludes two weekends of rushing. After a long process of meeting all the sororities at UMD, the potential new members (PNMs) finally choose the sorority they’ve been waiting for, the one that feels like home.
UMD’s rushing process begins the first weekend of classes starting. On Wednesday of that week, you first meet your rho gammas. These two girls belong to sororities but keep them a secret so they can weigh in on the PMN’s situation without bias. Your rho gammas basically serve the same function as your camp counselors; they take you to all the houses, give you advice on the different sororities, feed you the occasional snack, provide emotional support when that house you were sure would love you back didn’t, etc.
UMD holds the first meeting of the rho gamma group in the Ritchie Coliseum. They go over the rules of rushing, what to wear on each day, etc. If you thoroughly researched the process as I did before rushing, the meeting doesn’t really provide any extra information, but you do get to reconfirm.
The Wednesday meeting signified my first wake-up call; I really am rushing, for better or for worse. One thousand girls piled into the gym. Some girls’ stress tangibly hung in the air–just during the information meeting. Me, a Greek life novice, found this silly. It’s just talking to people, I had thought, how bad can it be? I think my novice status really benefited me because honestly, the process gets overhyped, but I definitely understand the other girls’ stress now.
The Values Round began on Friday evening. PNM’s tour all of UMD’s 16 chapters, broken up into two days. The first night you visit seven chapters, and then throughout Saturday, you knock out the remaining nine. You travel around with your rho gamma groups (your own and the next sequential one) and about 60 girls pile into one chapter house. Then you meet 60 members of the chapter, and the shouting small-talk match ensues.
You sit with a girl from the sorority and try to get to know her, but the other 100+ people create such a loud atmosphere that you’ll have to shout. During the flu season, this becomes especially painful. The first chapter I went to I made the mistake of not having my water primed and after the first five minutes of shouting my throat was engulfed in scratchy flames. I tried to subtly cough and my chapter member looked at me like she wanted to wear a hazmat suit. My water bottle never left my hand again and I chugged a thermos of tea between houses, highly recommend.
Recruitment flows like this for the whole process. You go in, have a conversation, leave and repeat the whole thing over and over again until you can leave and crash in your sweet, sweet bed. Everyone hails the torture of recruitment; honestly, UMD’s rushing could be so much worse. Sure, the long days become taxing and it hurts your brain to absorb as much information about a sorority as possible from a short conversation, but you get to meet amazing women who may even become your sisters.
I decided to rush because I reflected on my first semester and noticed how I missed the tight-knit, supportive group of girls who supported me like family during high school. Greek life appealed to me because a sorority provided that close family dynamic just for women who also have the same values and desire for community.
After the first round of cuts, when you start the philanthropy round, I found the process much more enjoyable because you got to really get to know the chapter and the girl you talked to.
However, the first round of cuts is tricky. You don’t know rejection from the process yet, so it can sting when you open your phone in front of all the other PNM’s and find that sorority you liked didn’t think you were a good fit. Luckily your rho gammas help you through the whole process and support you.
My number of chapters I visited dropped from sixteen to four. At first, I thought it must have been a mistake–my rho gammas had told us to expect six to seven. Then the shock set in. It felt difficult not to blame myself; I thought I must have said or done something wrong. But, my rho gammas listened to me and gave me advice. They helped me take solace in the fact that I had to pick only one eventually. I had nothing to complain about–I liked all the chapters that came back. It made it easier to get to know the chapters and to continue narrowing down my list, which I know became difficult for others later.
On Sunday, you attend the philanthropy round and then narrow down your list to seven. The next week won’t feel real as you wait for the weekend. On Friday, you spend time at your home away from home during recruitment, Ritchie Coliseum. After a long week, you find out what chapters have asked you to come back. Being in the room with 1,000 other girls makes the process so much more nerve-wracking as panicky energy swirls throughout the coliseum.
In the sisterhood round, my shorter list really paid off. I knew what houses I liked, so I wasn’t stressed once I confirmed my schedule. I got to go to houses that I really liked and they liked me, all in way less time. During recruitment, I think at least one round of cuts hurts a little. I already went through mine at this point whereas a lot of other PNMs had not. But, you get closer to the end result either way.
In the preference round, you pick two houses to visit in order to determine your top choice. A girl from the chapter chooses to talk to you because of your connection during the previous rounds. This makes the round all the more special and you really decide what sorority you see yourself in. You rank your top choice at the end of the night.
Finally, I made it to bid day. Everyone’s nerves buzzed at an all-time high as we piled into the Stamp Student Union. We were all handed our bid cards and told to wait. After a tumultuous few minutes, we finally got to open the cards. We celebrated with our friends, laughed and jumped. Then we ran home to our sororities who were waiting for us in different sections in the ballroom. And then, done. The end of rushing.
Rushing takes a lot of time and energy, I won’t lie. All in all, I got to meet a lot of amazing, inspiring women. I chose a place to call home. Greek life may not be for everyone, but don’t let the rushing process discourage you–just use this guide!