By Rider Farris | Reporter
Every spring semester, hundreds of women enter the doors of the Stacy Riddle Forum a week before classes begin with bright eyes and the goal of finding their home within Baylor’s Greek community. Some find the process difficult and lengthy; for others, the process is a breeze. But for the women that find their home, the experience is something truly special.
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho freshman Annaliese Cheeley was one of those hopeful women this year. Making the decision to participate in recruitment just one month before the registration deadline, she gathered as many recommendation letters as she could from current and past Greek women and set about meeting Greeks within Baylor’s own community. She attended Bill Daniel Student Center (SUB) mixers for several of Baylor’s eight Panhellenic sororities and did her best to prepare for the week long process of recruitment.
“It was a good experience,” Cheeley said. “I didn’t know what to expect for the entire week, just because I wasn’t super involved last semester. But it ended well.”
Cheeley initially decided to register for recruitment after meeting and discussing the idea with a Gamma Chi — a Panhellenic woman who has disaffiliated herself from her own organization to help guide prospective Greek members through the recruitment process.
In January, Cheeley walked into recruitment week with an open mind and a legacy status with Panhellenic sorority Zeta Tau Alpha, as her mother was a Zeta at the University of Washington.
“Going into rush week, I wanted Chi-O,” Cheeley said. “I was having an open mind, but I thought Chi-O would be awesome because that’s where I saw myself.”
Unfortunately, after the first day of Panhellenic “parties”, and after the first round of cuts, Cheeley was left with only a couple of sororities, one of which was Zeta.
“Every time I went into Zeta, the conversations were actually real and the girls seemed actually interested,” Cheeley said. “It was more personal. They made me feel like a real person and that they actually wanted me. They really made me feel welcomed and wanted, and it just kind of sold it for me.”
So, Cheeley carried on through both Philanthropy Day, where she learned about Zeta’s philanthropy, breast cancer awareness, and Preference Day, where she learned about sisterhood within Zeta. She also learned about another Greek organization, Alpha Delta Pi, in which she was invited to come back. But, Preference Day really cemented which Greek organization she wanted to be a part of.
“That was the day I knew that Zeta was where I wanted to go because it was real and authentic and it was what I wanted,” Cheeley said.
Cheeley ended up suicide rushing for Zeta, which means that she stated she would only accept a bid from Zeta and not the other organization. On Bid Day, she was presented with a bid and accepted the offer to join Zeta.
“I just felt most comfortable in Zeta,” Cheeley said. “It felt like home; the girls were so inviting. So it just worked out that way.”
Since Bid Day, Cheeley has been one of hundreds of new members to join Panhellenic organizations at Baylor this year. She has also received her Big and the rest of her Greek family, including her Grand Big, Austin, Texas, junior Brittany Wetmore, who welcomed her to their ‘fam’.
“Annaliese is awesome,” Wetmore said. “She’s very spunky and loud, but she’s super sweet and down-to-earth and is just super open and willing to talk to you about anything. She’s very kind and she has a really big heart. I’m super excited about her. She’s super great.”
Regarding the recruitment process, Cheeley said she thinks that the deferred rush process Baylor has is beneficial because it allows freshmen to settle in before they make the commitment of joining a Greek organization. Additionally, she said although the sorority recruitment process may have some flaws, it is valid and useful to an extent. As for the next generation of Baylor’s Greeks, she suggests that prospective members try to not let stereotypes influence how they feel about the organizations.
“Go in with an open mind because a lot of them will surprise you,” Cheeley said. “And if you have an open mind, then you will probably end up where you’re supposed to.”