Sorority girls reveal how vicious rush actually is
‘They’ll call you out if you don’t have your hair curled or if you didn’t wear the right lip color’
I don't know how, but I manage to meet a new sorority girl every week. They tell me what house they're in, like I know the difference between a Delta and a Gamma other than the fact they're letters in the Greek alphabet. Then they passionately try and convince me sororities "are nothing like they are in the movies."
Bullshit. Four drinks down and they're spilling the beans about things that go on behind their seemingly always big, always white doors — rituals, discrimination, and presentations ranking how pretty — sorry, "desirable" — potential new recruits are. And that's just week one.
Intrigued, and tbh kind of worried, I asked sorority girls to tell me everything that actually goes on during recruitment.
Let's start out simple — girls start planning for rush week months in advance
“I think people don’t understand or appreciate the work that goes into recruitment. Most houses start preparing a year in advance by appointing a new recruitment team and scheduling practice dates, but recruitment practice really picks up in the two weeks leading up to the real deal. The week before is usually referred to as 'hell week' because you will spend 8-12 hours a day making sure everything is perfect. It’s a lot of work and a lot of pressure. People get pretty bitchy because of the stress and limited amounts of sleep. But the payoff is so worth it.”
They actually have to practice 'stacking' — the weird door clapping thing — and other sorority rituals
“It really depends what part of the country you’re in, but most houses practice door stacking – that scary thing where girls stand in the doors and windows and clap – their chants, how to hold a conversation with a PNM (Potential New Members) to vet them for membership, and the crazy logistics of passing off PNMs to other chapter members."
Is this hell? No, it's sorority recruitment. pic.twitter.com/PX4Iwo8d5u
— 5th Year (@5thYear) August 16, 2017
"People get pretty nasty during this. There's always lots of gossip about who is a shitty recruiter, who is too ugly to be in the front of the door stack, and who shouldn't be holding conversations and hand out water instead. It's pretty easy to figure out where you are in terms of looks and social skills in your sorority, so a lot of girls feel really bad about themselves. There's lots of crying – it sucks."
They stalk potential new members on social media before rush even starts
"Usually, houses are given a list of PNMs by the university's Panhellenic Council a few weeks before recruitment. The recruitment chair will go through every PNM to assess how much she wants them in the chapter with the president and other ‘important’ members. They usually just do some intense social media stalking — looking through PNM's Instagrams and Facebooks. They're usually looking for a girl with a good aesthetic, good sense of style, and interesting life. The more you vacation and do cool, Insta-worthy things, the better. If a girl is unattractive online, they probably won't put too much stock into her during rush.
"Recruitment chairs also use rush week applications to find out what activities a girl does, if your college gives out applications. In some houses, the last layer of snooping she does on PNMs is presenting a PowerPoint to the chapter with every PNM’s name and picture. If someone in the chapter knows you, they shout out what they know about you and whether or not you should be preferred.”
They have dress codes and hair and makeup checks and will call you out if you're not following them
“At my school, there’s not an established dress code for what chapters have to wear for each round, so instead the recruitment team assigns us outfits to wear. One might be ripped light wash denim pants with a t-shirt they give us. Another might be like a blue or white cocktail dress. We have these outfit checks where they tell you if your clothes are right and if they look good on. It’s bullshit, but I guess that’s the name of the game.
sorority during rush: we're all very unique
sorority 1 week earlier: Ashley hell no are u wearing that dress it's the wrong shade of blue
— ABARTY (@abarty_intheusa) August 16, 2017
"During the rounds we have makeup and hair checks also. They’ll call you out if you don’t have your hair curled or if you didn’t wear the right lip color. They might tell you a dress looks ugly on you or your hair doesn't look good enough to get good PNMs. If your outfit and your makeup isn't up to par, they might ask you to buy new stuff. They make you sit out if you don't have the right outfit for the round, and you'll be fined for sitting out. It’s insane."
During rush week, sorority girls are split into 'bumper groups' which determine who they speak to
“The committee will group members with other girls who are similar to them — either in looks, personality, or both. These girls are in something called a 'bumper group,' which means they will all talk to the same PNMs. Usually, they're matched to the PNM based on how desirable she is to the house. If she is super desirable, the most attractive or interesting bumper group will be assigned to her. Rush committees try to make sure the bumper group has something in common with PNMs to make sure there’s always something to talk about — but girls who are less desirable are often assigned to the 'left over' bumper groups. "
Sorority recruitment is the nastiest, most demeaning process. Why can't people just decide to be sisters over a round of margaritas & tacos
— AK Jernigan (@akjernigan) August 16, 2017
"Girls in bumper groups are often given secret signals to know when to switch girls. There are also girls who aren’t in a bumper group called 'floaters.' These girls are often the most-prized members of the chapter. They’re either really hot or have a high leadership position, like the president. Girls can signal to have them come over if a conversation is bad by flashing a signal — maybe by playing with her lavaliere or drinking water. But most of the time, floaters are used to impress PNMs the Rush Chair really wants.”
Chapters can't technically call girls 'pretty', but they definitely go for the more attractive girls
“Generally, attractiveness isn’t allowed to be an actual criteria to rank girls on. Instead, chapters will use other words to rank her 'presentation' or her 'disposition.' It still matters, trust me, but in most chapters people have different opinions on who is 'pretty,' so attractiveness honestly gets sidelined for other important criteria.
And the wealthier ones, of course
"I’m embarrassed to admit family money really does play a role in how you’re scored. Sororities are ultimately businesses who need alumni and members who can gift money and who elevate their brand. So girls who display traditional markers of wealth — such as riding horses, being a deb, wearing designer clothes, or going on luxurious vacations — are inherently more desirable and ranked higher.”
They have a list of banned conversation topics including boys and alcohol
“Most chapters have a strict 'no booze, no boys' policy during recruitment. You aren’t allowed to drink in public or be seen with anyone in a fraternity to make sure PNMs don’t think you’re the sleazy sorority. There’s also a general rule in most chapters to not speak about the five Bs with PNMs – Booze, Boys, Brands, Bibles, and Barack. So basically, you can’t speak about partying, fraternities, money, religion, or politics. I feel like this is a good rule for when you’re first speaking to anyone, so it’s something we stick by.”
Me: "Oh yeah it's rush week. No booze, no boys"@paigeellis26 : "no thank you"
— Laura Gerkin (@LaGerkk) August 14, 2017
Every rush week ends with a 'preference night' ritual for the last girls left in their recruitment process
“Every rush week ends with a preference night ritual which is specific to the organization you’re in, but not what chapter. For example, Chi Omega’s ritual will be totally different than Delta Gamma’s ritual, but all Chi Omegas have the same ritual and all Delta Gammas have the same ritual. Most preference nights look similar.
"Girls usually wear the same color and speeches are usually given by senior members who cry looking back on their time in the chapter. It’s a time for the last PNMs left in the rush process to really get what being in the sorority is like. Probably the creepiest part of preference night are the chapter songs members will sing in unison. A lot of rituals include candles too, lol.”
Even anonymously, no one would give me any specific details about what actually goes on at the rituals, as apparently they've all signed an NDR. Mkay.
They decide who gets to join by judging them over a PowerPoint presentation
“Some houses judge girls on score cards, where members who spoke to the PNM give a score from 1-10 on certain traits like relatability, ability to hold a conversation, etc. In these houses, the recruitment chair 'counts' the points and uses each score to rank her among the other PNMs. The house will then call the highest ranked PNMs back to the house for the next round. A lot of people don’t like this process because recruitment chairs get a lot of power over 'counting.'
"Some chapters make massive PowerPoints of each PNM who comes to their house in each round, and chapter members have a discussion over each girl to decide where they should rank them. This ranking conversation usually boils down to how she performed in a conversation or how she stacks up to the houses criteria – if she's hot, if she has a good GPA, if she has a good friend group, etc. This obviously causes a lot of bitch sessions and general chaos, but it’s also easier for each girl’s voice to be heard on her friends and other PNMs she really likes. ”
Legacies, or girls whose family members were members of a house, are often given preferential treatment
“Legacies are usually given preferential treatment, but they aren’t always given a bid. Legacy policy depends what organization you’re in. Some houses have to call legacies back to the second round of recruitment, then have no obligations to them. Some houses don’t have any obligations to legacies unless they make it to preference night, then they might have to take them. Sometimes houses that have a large alumni presence take all legacies. Some houses honestly don’t give a fuck. It’s really a house-by-house thing, but it doesn’t hurt.”