Bwog’s resident Brit, Liv, decided to try out rushing at the start of this semester. Knowing very little about the process, this follows her totally cliché journey into Columbia’s Panhellenic life and provides a window into what it was like for an international kid…
When I say I didn’t know much about sororities, I really mean I did NOT know ANYTHING sororities. As a Brit, and we have no Panhell life, I thought it would be a Regina George meets teenage cult experience. Nonetheless, sororities held this weird interest for me. I couldn’t put my finger on it. So, out of sheer curiosity, I paid my $20 Panhell rushing fee in November and waited for it all to begin.
I don’t want to bore people who already know what rushing is like so I’ll keep this part brief. There are four days all with different purposes:
- Philanthropy Day: each of the six sororities tells you about their charitable commitments (and begin sussing you out – every single girl you talk to has been carefully selected to evaluate whether you’re a good fit for their chapter)
- Development Day: only four sororities, based on whether you liked them and they liked you, invite you back and conversations become more intimate. Some sororities discuss their ‘working statement’ while others do things like talk-show spoofs
- Preference Day: you’ve whittled it down to the final two sororities! Today is the best day for a Potential New Member (PNM) because the sororities now sell themselves to you. It was nice having the power back, mwahaha… You then choose the one sorority that stood out and keep your fingers crossed…
- Bid Night: all is revealed and the games begin!
Basically, imagine it like the Sorting Hat in Harry Potter. Only the Sorting Hat is a group of female upperclassmen and the sorting ceremony lasts hours upon end.
Rushing is exhausting, from start to finish. You spend hours talking to a multitude of girls from different backgrounds and have to regurgitate the same basic information before relating to more intimate topics. It can be very alienating and I genuinely wanted to drop after the first day. My Rho Gamma (an unbiased girl who oversees your recruitment) recommended I stay on, and I’m SO glad I did.
Rushing can be scary. You spend a lot of time wondering whether people like you and how you look. As you line up with a hoard of other PNMs, it is ridiculously overwhelming. Again, it’s nothing to do with the sororities. They all want to be as welcoming as possible. I just found lines and lines of dressed up girls kind of bizarre.
Rushing can also be sad. It was heartbreaking to see lots of girls crying every morning because they weren’t invited back to the sorority they liked. And yes, it does sound brutal on paper – girls turning down other girls. However, it’s equally as hard for those doing the recruitment. They don’t want to upset anybody. The way you have to see it is that these sororities have to reeeeeally evaluate whether you’re someone who could thrive in their environment for three years. All the girls want what’s best for you.
Rushing can also be so exciting. When I walked into this certain sorority I felt like I was somewhere where the girls were like me, like my friends back home, and like people I could be friends with here. The more I spoke to the sisters, the more I wanted to be a part of the chapter. It’s this ineffable sensation, I suppose, where it does feel like home. I didn’t expect it and I accused myself of being lured into a cult but that’s just not true.
And I was blessed that we mutually chose each other. I’m an incredibly proud Delta Gamma girl :) Would I like to go through recruitment again? Definitely not – it was nerve-wracking and intense. But am I utterly overjoyed to be a part of a sisterhood that I already love? 100 times yes.
Sororities are not for everyone. Remember, there’s no harm in trying it out and then dropping. You can always restart next year.
Here are some tips for PNMs thinking of rushing next year:
- On days where you’re meant to wear heels, find the comfiest pair you have. You’re in them for a while…;
- Bring a change of clothes to each day so you can avoid walking across campus in your various outfits;
- Go in with an open mind – don’t judge sororities on a handful of people you’ve met prior to rushing – make your opinion on the chapter as a whole;
- Always arrive 20 minutes early which leaves you a) 5 mins emergency leeway b) 5 minutes to stash your coat, bag, and touch up make-up, and c) 10 minutes to get in line outside your assigned room and compose yourself;
- Don’t go out partying during rush week – GET SOME SLEEP;
- Keep your thoughts to yourself and avoid discussing your opinions on girls and places to avoid any drama;
- Recognise that rushing is not what being in the sorority is like. It’s manic and in your face but when you get to the end of the road and find the sisterhood that’s right for you, it’s all worth it.
All I can say is that I’ve already made amazing friends within DG (shoutout to Lauren Smith xx) and know I will continue to do so. I cannot say how excited I am to see how my future is affected by being around such a wonderful group of girls.
(Rush DG ladies, you won’t regret it)
Vintage sisters photo via Flickr.com.