Don’t ‘rush’ the process: Take the pressure off sorority recruitment

Gwen Henry | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

In 40 days, hundreds of women will receive a bid for their dream sorority, and social media will be flooded with bid day posts filled with matching T-shirts, color-coordinated tutus and group photos. But for every jubilant post, there are bound to be those who end up feeling less enthusiastic about the process.

Sorority recruitment is a five-day process during which potential new members (PNMs) — students hoping to join a Greek organization — will visit fewer and fewer sororities throughout the week as they make cuts and are cut. PNMs start by visiting all nine, then narrow it down to seven, five and two. On the fifth day, women who have been offered a bid will celebrate with active members and other new members.

Each day provides an opportunity for PNMs to learn about a different aspect of the sororities: standard information on Open House Day, information about philanthropy and sisterhood on their respective days, and Preference Day, during which PNMs try to form a closer bond with active members of their two top houses.

When PNMs place pressure on themselves to get into one specific house, their expectations can cast a bad light on the recruitment experience — a week that puts enough pressure on women already.

Many women place a lot of importance on the rush process and getting into the “right” sorority. Some have relatives who have been in the sorority, making them eager to carry on a family legacy. Others are concerned with what their peers might say about the sorority they’ve pledged.

One student who participated in the process at the University of Georgia said it “made me sick to my stomach” due to the focus on clothing, status and overall “surface-level behavior.”

The same thing is often true at Baylor, as evidenced by the #baylorrush TikToks from the 2023 recruitment process. Even though spring rush gives women a semester to get settled at school and familiarize themselves with active members and other PNMs, the vast majority of those whom they meet during rush week are women they haven’t already met — despite the numerous Instagram posts welcoming new members that claim active members “love them already.” It’s not just difficult to get to know someone across five days when those conversations focus on majors, philanthropy and Greek life — it’s nearly impossible.

Baylor’s Panhellenic sorority recruitment website puts this rather superficial impression into writing. Its explanation of the recruitment process includes that “potential members need to understand that they may not always get invited to the parties they would like to attend.”

A study conducted by University of Pennsylvania psychologists in 2016 suggested sorority rush produces negative mental health outcomes. Colleen Kase, one of the researchers, told Penn Today that “thousands of women across the country go through this every year. If this is true more broadly, that it’s such a negative process, then something needs to change.”

So, what can PNMs do to make their rush experience better despite a system that can be disingenuous and isolating? The first thing is to evaluate your reasons for rushing. FOMO, or the fear of missing out, is not a good reason to rush because sororities are a huge commitment for both time and money. If you are thinking about rushing purely for the social aspect, consider that it’s $500-700 per semester. Before you decide to make this expensive commitment, understand that if your motivation is purely a desire for more socializing, there are plenty of other clubs and organizations at Baylor that can meet this need without requiring you to spend so much.

However, a genuine excitement to be in a sisterhood of like-minded women is a great reason to rush. You can expect to get out what you put in, so if you’re prepared to invest lots of time and money, you’re in for a great experience in Greek life.

Also, remember that if you don’t get into the sorority you want, it isn’t the end of the world. Many women have great experiences in a sorority they didn’t initially see themselves joining. Just because things may not play out the way you had planned does not mean that the issue lies with you.

At the end of the day, wherever you end up after rush week is where you were meant to be, whether that be your top house, your wildcard or nowhere at all.