I was chatting with a Gamma Phi Beta Alum this morning who shared a Rush story that broke my heart. A potential new member she'd written a letter of recommendation for was going through Rush Week at the University of Alabama and was dropped by 15 out of the 17 houses she'd rushed.
If you've watched the HBO Max documentary "Bama Rush," you probably know that Alabama is Ground Zero of the Sorority-Verse and boasts the highest number of Greek members in the nation. It's huge. And, sorority Houses there are doing Rush a little differently this year by requiring potential new members to submit a video interview in lieu of the first Rush Party due to COVID. So, my question is: Why was this perfectly nice, accomplished young woman turned away from so many houses?
Did she not hire a recruitment coach or a professional videographer to film her Rush interview? Did her video not have pitch perfect sound and lighting *sarcasm*. Is she more of an introvert so she didn't come across as "enthusiastic" as some of the other competing new members? (I'm an introvert, so I'm not introvert-bashing here).
I found a very cute video blog by Lillian Noftsger and her friends who documented their experience with Bama Rush last year, and I think it portrays the ups and downs of Rush Week pretty accurately, and it's done in a really cute way. (Excellent job, Lillian!)
But, I'm saddened by the Rush Week experience of other women, such as the one mentioned at the beginning because it isn't always so happy for everyone. Rush can leave some women with a deflated sense of self-esteem and a large dose of FOMO, if they're excluded from participating due to the popularity of Greek life on their college campus. And, I have to wonder: How many other women are having - or have had - a similar Rush experience?
I'm sure this will not be a popular sentiment, but it has to be said: Rush Can Be Cruel. I've viewed some of the TikTok videos of sorority women hip-hopping their way through choreographed dance routines and gymnastics to a pounding beat in front of their sorority houses, and I'm relieved that I'm not going through Recruitment now. Because I'm not sure I'd be all that interested in joining one, let alone be chosen to be a member. And, that would've been a loss. But, the pressure on these young women must be enormous.
While I wouldn't trade my sorority experience or the life-long friendships I've formed for anything, Rush wasn't one of my favorite things about sorority membership. It was very different back in the day. When I went through Rush, there was no Facebook, Instagram or TikTok. We didn't have to perform dance routines that got posted and commented on widely across thousands of social media accounts. And, I didn't attend the University of Alabama. Sure, Rush can be grueling for members, as there are long, boring days spent in rehearsal and preparation, hours of small talk (anathema for an introvert) and fines for not showing up. But, it seems almost innocent compared to today's experience.
If you've recently gone through sorority recruitment and had a less-than-positive experience, I want to hear from you. I think it's important not to gloss over the fact that Rush can be a very different experience depending on what college you attend and what their Greek culture is like. As one sorority alum and commenter on the HBO Max documentary said,"I don’t think it takes away from all the positive experiences to acknowledge some of the negative." And, let's face it, Recruitment isn't like it's being portrayed in the documentary on every, single college campus. Alabama may be an exception. But, one fact remains: Rush Can Sometimes Be Cruel.
Post Script: I'm happy to report that the woman mentioned at the beginning of this story did end up pledging a house at the University of Alabama, so there is a happy ending to this story...