By Katy Mae Turner | Photographer
In August 2021, #BamaRush at the University of Alabama took over the internet. Many potential new members (PNMs) would record videos showing their outfits and talking about the week-long recruitment process, which allowed people with little or no knowledge of how sororities worked to get an inside look at the process.
During Baylor’s spring recruitment in January 2022, snowballing on the #BamaRush craze months prior, #BaylorRush on TikTok grew in popularity. With over 32.4 million views, the hashtag grew outside of the Baylor community and became a viral phenomenon across multiple social media platforms.
The videos of #BaylorRush on TikTok have drawn mixed reviews due to the wide variety of opinions and far-reaching grasp of the trend. Over the past couple of years, creating videos has provided entertainment not only for the people going through recruitment, but for those watching from the virtual sidelines all around the world.
Charlotte, N.C., sophomore Katie Boatwright was part of the success of #BaylorRush in 2022 when she and her friend, Cypress sophomore Sara Bothe, made a video before their sisterhood rounds showing their outfits. Once they returned home for the day, they realized the video had gotten many more views than they expected.
“I came back home that day and saw that it had blown up, it was just a quick one-take video,” Boatwright said. “I thought the whole thing was hilarious and some of the comments were pretty creative.”
Boatwright’s video currently has over 4.1 million views, 314,600 likes and 13,200 comments.
Former Baylor Panhellenic External Relations and Engagement Coordinator, Mikayla Olson, wasn’t going to miss out on the TikTok fun as a new alumna. Now boasting over 110,000 views, she did a series where she ranked chapters’ themes throughout the week based on their Instagram posts.
“Honestly, I just wanted to make silly little TikToks because when I was at Baylor, that would just be something I’d talk about with my friends throughout the week,” Olson said. “Since graduating, all of my friends are spread out, so I would send them my TikToks and we would chat about it.”
With the virality of these videos, users across social media had a wide variety of opinions — some nice, and some not as much.
“I spent $600 on rush dresses for my southern SEC culture rush, and these girls get to wear dresses that I wore at age 10 and get in?” TikTok user @thoughtswgracie said. “If I would’ve worn this in Mississippi, I would’ve gotten laughed out of the building.”
Potential Baylor students also used the visibility of the week to see current students and learn more about Baylor.
“They all dress in these terrible outfits; I’ve never seen so many sorority TikToks on my For You page that all have these outfits,” TikTok user @cookiedoughlavacake said, who was recently accepted into Baylor’s class of 2027. “What is going on in Waco?”
Others had nicer comments, pointing out that fashion is about one’s personal style and opinions.
“I don’t get why TikTok is hating on all these Baylor RushTok girls’ outfits; like, at least they have original style,” Twitter user @marciac95_ said.
TikTok user @jessicapeltzman came to the defense of many PNMs’ outfits.
“They’re wearing things that are unique and they’re experimenting with fashion,” she said. “These girls are in college, OK? They’re still learning about their style.”
Many different schools do sorority recruitment, so why did Baylor grow to be so popular? Olson said Baylor’s unique approach to recruitment is what makes it stand out.
“Greek life is so different at Baylor compared to other schools — we have spring recruitment, no houses, heavy influence of religion and specifically, Baylor vernacular and fashion trends,” Olson said.