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Volume 16, Spring 2004


Sorority Life: So what's the Rush?

by Danielle M. Dombkowski

Staff Writer

Before even a month in the school year has passed, those sororities which belong to panhell (or the Inter Fraternity/Sorority Council, IFSC for short) have gone through rush and gathered their new pledge classes. The "pledges" are starting to get to know the sisters, and become involved in the chapter that slowly but surely, they will be fully integrated into. But for those people who are not in sororities, and who maybe will never even think about joining a sorority, what does this mean? What's rush? What's panhell? Is rush the same at every school? These questions and a few more will be answered in this article as we explore sorority rush, how it works and why people do it.

Rush, now referred to as recruitment, occurs once a semester.

Rush, now referred to as recruitment, occurs once a semester. During rush girls who are not affiliated with the Greek system in any way are able to go and see different sororities (and their houses where applicable) and decide if they want to pledge a sorority. Rush works differently at every school; however the basic premise remains the same. You (being a potential new member or rushee) will go and see as many of the sororities as possible and talk to as many of the sisters as possible. You will decide which sororities you like and the sisters will decide which potential new members (pnms) they like. The pnms will then be given multiple bids, from which they can sometimes rank or choose one.

Typically speaking, the only sororities that can participate in rush are those who belong to the Panhellenic council (panhell for short). Panhell is a board that governs over sororities and makes sure that while in rush they are all following the rush rules. They also organize and oversee rush activities. Different schools have different rush rules, which we will go into later. There are two types of rush: formal and informal. Formal rush usually is a very hectic, strict rush where a pnm must see every House or sorority at least once. Informal rush is more laid back. The pnm's can decide where they want to go and how much time they want to spend there.

The pnms go from room to room visiting the different sororities for about 20 minutes per room.

However, rush works differently at each school. According to junior, Erika Norton, a sister of Kappa Delta, at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) freshmen girls can only participate in recruitment during the spring. TCNJ has "Round Robin." The pnms go from room to room visiting the different sororities for about 20 minutes per room. Although first semester freshmen cannot participate in fall recruitment, they can attend the Round Robin in the fall and the informational sessions that also occur in the fall. There are eight sororities at TCNJ that participate in Panhellenic recruitment. They are: Kappa Delta, Delta Phi Epsilon, Sigma Sigma Sigma, Delta Zeta, Phi Sigma Sigma, Tau Phi Alpha, and Zeta Tau Alpha.

According to Norton, "In the fall, sororities are allowed to take fall classes if they have under their national requirement. For example, ours is 50 and last year we had 44 girls going into the fall so we took a fall season. However, the organizations do not have to take a fall season if they don't want to. At TCNJ recruitment majorly takes place in the spring. We just changed our recruitment technique last year. It used to take almost three weeks and now it takes about a week and a half. The first step is Round Robin, which the girls are required to go to, if they don't they are not allowed to rush. The girls go from room to room to each organization and are not allowed to opt out of going to any room. I think they are then allowed to cut one organization after this event."  


"Next is round one, where the girls go to the six different sororities for about half an hour each. I think they have to cut two organizations after this event."  

"Round two, I think is about 40 minutes and they go to the sororities that they have left and after that is when the sororities decide who they want to invite back to pref [preference] rush. I think that you can be invited back to the four organizations but you can only go to three, so you have the option of cutting one of the organizations."  

"Pref Rush [comes next]. Each organization basically does their own ceremony and can range in time, but almost all of them are at least an hour. After this the girls rank their final choices and the sororities also list their top girls and alternates. From there a matching process takes place. Like, if I put Kappa Delta number one and they have me on their top list then I will be a Kappa Delta."  

'Also, the rush season is six weeks and cannot be any longer. It is a rule that is strictly enforced on this campus.'

"Also, the rush season is six weeks and cannot be any longer. It is a rule that is strictly enforced on this campus. Also, it is a dry rush season so drinking is not tolerated. I think it is more or less enforced by each organization, but each pledge takes it upon themselves not to drink because they are focusing on learning about their organization and on developing bonds with their pledge brothers or sisters."  

"I know my organization, Kappa Delta, takes learning about our history and learning about one another very seriously. Hazing is not tolerated and we are proud of our no hazing policy. No pledge is forced to go to any events but it is highly suggested, because it is really for their own benefit to learn about the sisterhood and to get to know their own pledge sisters better."  

'I rushed because I felt it was just part of the college experience. Being from the south, I had many friends who had rushed or were rushing and loved it.'

Finally I asked some of the girls I knew, from different sororities and different schools why they rushed. Margo Buege, a junior at Boston University and a sister of Delta Delta Delta, said, "I rushed because I felt it was just part of the college experience. Being from the south, I had many friends who had rushed or were rushing and loved it. I think the hardest part for me was waiting until second semester! I met a lot of really awesome girls during rush, and not just girls from Tri-Delta. I would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking to meet new people. Pledging was an amazing time. In other student organizations it can be difficult fitting in right away, but my sisters made me feel right at home. I was amazed by how much they spoiled us! Through new member meetings and sleepovers, big/little week and the various activities I got to bond with all the Tri-Deltas. By the time initiation rolled around, I could truly call these girls my sisters."  

Erika Norton said, "I personally pledged to become more involved on campus. Prior to pledging I was heavily considering transferring to another college because I was unhappy with the social scene and I didn't think I was getting the most out of college. Then I decided to check out Round Robin and all of the organizations, but especially Kappa Delta. [It] displayed such a strong bond that I knew it was something that I wanted to be a part of. Once I started pledging I had 18 new friends and we accomplished so much together as a pledge class. I honestly have not had a more amazing semester than the semester that I pledged. To this day I would not have traded anything in the for the world, because it's so great to just walk around campus and to have someone say hello to you or to just hang out with the girls everyday in "the cube" (every Greek organization has a set of couches in the student center that they occupy aka the cube). I currently live with one of my pledge sisters and my best friends here are the girls that I pledged with. It is so great as I get older to continue with the recruitment process because it is wonderful to be able to teach these younger women why Kappa Delta is so strong and the sisterhood that accompanies this organization. Watching the girls grow as they are pledging was amazing because one could see the future of Kappa Delta. Kappa Delta has changed me as a person and I would not trade anything in the world if I had to give up being a sister. I know that I can rely on each one of my sisters. Without Kappa Delta college would not have been the same and I am proud to be a sister of this organization."  

Shaaroni Wong, a senior at Boston University, and sister of Gamma Phi Beta said, "I rushed late, as a junior, because I had misconceptions about 'Greek life.' I thought that sororities were for girls who were, for lack of a better term, girly girls. When I did rush, it was mostly because of my friends and family back home. I came from a really small all girls' school where I had a tight group of girls who I knew were always there for me, my family is also very close. At BU everything was really transient, your friends came and went as you moved dorms, etc. I really needed a group of people who would be there for me all the time. When I was at rush, one of the sisters told me that these girls are the type who, when they say 'call me anytime' they mean it, and if you're on the ground crying, they aren't the type of people who would just hand you a tissue, rather, they would get on the floor and cry with you. That's when I knew I found the right place."  

'I met some sisters for an informal dinner, and was surprised that I felt really comfortable around them.'

Erin Modra, a senior at Boston University and sister of Delta Delta Delta said, "I was very overwhelmed and homesick my freshman year, and needed to find more activities to get involved in. I never thought a sorority would be for me, so when I missed the weekend of formal rush, I wasn't too disappointed. However, when I was invited to meet some of the sisters of Tri-Delta, I thought I would give it a try, especially after my friend Ashley (who had just accepted a bid from them at formal rush) encouraged me to check it out. I met some sisters for an informal dinner, and was surprised that I felt really comfortable around them. I could be myself, felt at home in the group, and looked up to many of the women. I was so excited to receive a bid, and quickly accepted it. Then I first told my parents. They weren't too thrilled and asked me if I really knew what I was getting in to, which made me start to worry. However, all the older sisters made me feel very welcomed and comfortable, and today I can't imagine my college life without the sorority."  

"Recruitment now seems similar to a job interview to me. We're trying to sell ourselves in a short amount of time, while at the same time trying to get to know the potential new members and see what unique qualities they can bring to our chapter. It's so hard to put a label on any chapter because your impression of the group changes with each individual sister you meet or see. My younger sister is now a freshman at Cornell, and is considering joining the Greek life there. I am able to see what chapters are on her campus, one being the sorority I belong to, but I can't offer her much advice from that alone. Although we are all part of the same national fraternity, the Cornell chapter is likely very different from the Boston University chapter, simply because the chapters are shaped by the women in them. The same chapter at a single school can even change every four years or so as new women come into the chapter and bring their own leadership, ideas and personalities to the chapter. But no matter what, our rituals and our purpose remain the same and tie us together across the country and through the years."

Danielle M. Dombkowski is a junior journalism major with a minor in psychology at Boston University.  She spends her time writing, eating, and running around Boston.

© 2003 Danielle M. Dombrowski