Durham- They told us what to wear, what to say and what not to say. That biggest topic to avoid?
No booze, boys
Recruitment, rush week, whatever you want to call it, it’s all the same. A bunch of girls who want to join Greek life for a variety of reasons. Never in a million years did I think I would be one of those girls, but, this year, I decided to sign up for formal recruitment to see what everything is all about. I endured seven days of various activities and by the end of it, I was mentally, physically, and emotionally exhausted. I’m not sure which aspect was the most draining: the smiling, the repeated conversations, or the 6+ hours of walking, standing, and cheering day after day. Regardless of the negative aspects of this whole process, I wouldn’t go back and change a thing. Rushing this semester was one of the greatest experiences I have ever had, and I have met so many great people because of it.
On the first day, we met our recruitment counselors. These are girls who have gone through the recruitment process and are currently in one of the eight sororities here on campus. They are there to lead us through the process and help us make very important decisions. During this time, they disaffiliate with their house to eliminate any bias towards one house over another. To me, this seemed strange. Just because they weren’t wearing their letters doesn’t automatically eliminate their bias towards their chapter. But, apparently, we were supposed to be able to ask them any questions about any sorority, without feeling intimidated.
On this day, all of the girls going through the formal recruitment process gathered in the Granite State Room of the Memorial Union Building to be assigned a recruitment counselor. There were 12 recruitment groups each containing 50-55 girls. If it were up to me, I could’ve come up with six more efficient ways to let each girl know their group. But, clearly, it wasn’t up to me. After each name was called, we met our counselors, got a brief rundown of the next six days, and then we were set free.
For me, day two was orientation. Again, we all filed into the GSR to get a more in-depth description of what the rest of the week would entail. The women who run the whole thing are members of what is called the Panhellenic Council (also referred to as Panhel). This is, for all intents and purposes, the executive board of sororities. They described our schedules and the various times that we had to arrive for events. If we were late, we were not allowed in. They told us what to wear, what to say, and what not to say. The biggest topics to avoid? “No booze, boys, or bibles.”
The women of Panhel reassured everyone that hazing is illegal in the state of New Hampshire and how all the rumors we have heard are not true. I could only think, “of course they’re going to say that. We wouldn’t want to join their precious Greek life if we knew the rumors were true.”
At this point I still couldn’t believe I was actually going through with the whole process. Never in my entire life had I imagined myself as a sorority girl. The matching outfits, the cheering, and the peppiness was never something I could see myself being a part of. So, as I was sitting there in the GSR, my first instinct was to roll my eyes. As the days went on, I learned that there is so much more to Greek life.
Following orientation was informal recruitment. Each chapter had a room on the third floor of the MUB. If you’ve ever been to the third floor of the MUB, you know how tiny those rooms are. Now, imagine over 50 girls in each of those rooms. It was hot. It was loud. It was mayhem. During the informal recruitment, we got to meet with sisters from all of the sororities on campus. This is where the first impressions were made. Most of the girls were very welcoming and friendly. They approached us as soon as we walked through the door, taking us to chat about their chapters. Others weren’t so warm and seemed like they couldn’t care less that we were there. While that was my first interaction with most chapters, I didn’t want to base my entire decision off of one night.
Days Three & Four
There were two days of open house. Since there are eight sororities here, they were split into two days. Day one, for my group, consisted of Delta Xi Phi, Phi Sigma Sigma, Alpha Xi Delta, and Sigma Alpha. Delta Xi Phi and Sigma Alpha are what the Panhel calls ‘associate chapters.’ This means they are not official members of the panhellenic counsel, but they are still recognized. For this reason they have a completely different recruitment process, and do not partake in the same activities as the other chapters following open house days.
Outside each house, we were lined up alphabetically by last name while the recruitment counselors took our phones and water bottles. They cheered at the beginning and then lined up to link arms with us. It was deafening in the tent. Sitting less than a foot from each other, we had to yell to be heard.
Friday was part two of the open house, and this is when I got to see Chi Omega, Alpha Phi, Kappa Delta, and Alpha Chi Omega. If one thinks that if you have seen one sorority, you’ve seen them all, you’re right. Well, to a point. The houses are all different and, to be cliché, they all have their own personalities. However, when you’re in a house, especially for recruitment, you are asked the same questions at least five times. The basics consisted of “what year are you?” “What is your major?” “Where are you from?” “Why did you decide to rush?” It’s a lot like the first few weeks of school when you’re meeting new people. Following open house, we all lined up outside of the MUB to enter the GSR from the back door. We waited extensively to go inside and sit down for one minute to put our top four chapters into a computer. From this data, chapters observe which girls want to be invited back for the next day’s events, which are invite only.
Day five is when it started to get fun. This day is called philanthropy day because, well, we learn about each chapter’s philanthropy. The catch, however, is that we only get invited back to up to four chapters. This is why we choose our top four the night prior.
I was invited back to two chapters. I picked up my schedule that morning and then got ready for my first “party.” Since I only went to two of these parties, and they were only 45 minutes a piece, I was done pretty quickly. After we finished, we were instructed to go to the Strafford Room in the MUB where we had to preference our top two chapters.
Preference Day. The biggest day, right after bid day, for rush week. We got invited back to up to two chapters to have a more in depth conversation with the sisters. We were instructed to dress up, as if we were attending a wedding, and went to the parties we were invited to. They had us line up to take attendance and then the sisters came out of the house. It was silent.
One sister, the vice president of membership, called out our names one at a time and a sister greeted us with a rose. We walked into the house together and sat down at a numbered table. There, we spoke more about what we could bring to the chapter and what we could do within it, for example running for an executive position. On preference day, we spent the hour with only one sister. This was a good chance to get to know them on a more personal level. Again, after the hour was up, we went back to the MUB to put the chapters we had seen in order of which we prefered over the other.
BID DAY! The day we had all been anxiously awaiting finally arrived. We were finally going to find out if we had gotten into a chapter and, if so, which one was going to be our new home.
Bid day went something like this. Around 7pm they all went into the GSR of the MUB and sat at a table with their recruitment group. There, the recruitment counselors gave them each an envelope which they could not open for another hour or so. Then they all walked to Memorial Field in front of the Whittemore Center where they got to learn the chapters the counselors and panhel council were a part of. They “ran home” to their chapters, meaning, they ran to where their sorority was standing on the field. Everyone got to open their bid and run to their new home. They partied on the field for a while before going to their respective houses to continue partying with food and drinks.
If you had asked me a year ago if I planned on being in a sorority in college, I would have laughed in your face. Never in a million years did I see myself going through the rush process with hundreds of other girls to maybe join a group of another one hundred girls. After this experience, I can honestly say I would do it all over again. It was one of the most fun times I have had, and I met a lot of wonderful people who I can call my friends.