“Top from Bama, shorts from Madewell, earrings from Kendra Scott, shoes from Target. Hair, second-day.” Welcome to Alabama Rush TikTok, where you’ll find thousands of college women preparing for the event of a lifetime: sorority recruitment. These potential new members (PNMs) are taking over TikTok with videos detailing their outfits, hair, and makeup for each round of recruitment — all with the hope that they’ll receive a bid from their dream sorority at the end of it all. Whether you’re obsessed with Greek life or it’s totally foreign concept, I’m pretty sure #BamaRush is going to get scooped up by Netflix and turned into a reality show. And I don’t know about you, but I’m already invested.
I’ll admit, I made it to “reacting to Alabama Rush TikTok ” before reaching actual Alabama Rush TikTok itself. Initially, I felt like the people on my FYP flipping out over #BamaRush videos were far more interesting and entertaining than the rush videos themselves.
But the more I scrolled through TikTok, the more I wondered: Why is this so fascinating? Is the world going to get a behind-the-scenes look at what really goes on during sorority recruitment? Also, where is Ally going to get a bid?! We. Need. Answers. I’m already a fan of March Madness, and this is starting to feel like 2.0. And in case you’re wondering, yes, people are actually making brackets for this ordeal. I’ve been gearing up my whole life for this.
Having attended a large, public university in the south, I’ve seen firsthand how Greek life is ingrained in university culture. That said, it’s crucial to know that the university popping up on your FYP is none other than the University of Alabama, also known as Bama — yes, Roll Tide.
The university is home to 66 social Greek-letter organizations with over 10,000 students in the Greek community alone, and according to the university’s Greek Life page, UA has had the largest fraternity and sorority community in the nation with regard to overall membership since 2011. However, UA’s sororities have a problematic history. Greek Life at UA was segregated until 2013 — which was not that long ago — after more than a century of Black women reported being denied bids to join any of the school’s prestigious, historically white organizations, and the administration had to intervene.
There’s also the not-so-secret organization at the University of Alabama known as “The Machine,” a group with a history of alleged cross-burnings, burglary, vandalism, election interference, and ostracizing students to the point of duress. The 100-year-old organization supposedly began as a chapter of Theta Nu Epsilon fraternity, and once again demonstrates the darker side of Greek life that exists, whether we witness it on TikTok or not.
Rush has always been an incredibly secretive process, but now TikTok is providing outsiders a close up look at what sorority recruitment is really like, from OOTD videos to college women speaking up about their former experiences with sorority recruitment.
One of the first videos to pop up on my FYP was of Grace Johanna, who recalls being “blacklisted” from sororities years ago despite having an overwhelmingly positive rush experience. She leaves viewers with the life lesson: “don’t be a mean girl.” And in case you’re unfamiliar, stories like this are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to capturing how serious sorority rush can be — mothers hire “rush coaches” to help their daughters gain entry, and rush can have a significant impact on students’ psychological well-being.
Plenty of TikTokers have poked fun at the #AlabamaRush videos, like Izzie DeLuca who mimics a southern accent while wearing hair clips as earrings, or Logan, who parodies the trend with his own version of a “rush” outfit. Kendra Scott even made a version using audio clips from the countless TikTokers who got their jewelry from the brand. Don’t you love when everyone’s in on a trend? The numbers also speak for themselves: Right now, the hashtag #BamaRush has over 76 million views on TikTok, with #AlabamaRush at 26.4 million and #RushTok at 22.4 million. It’s obvious the world is invested in this fascinating subculture, and I have a feeling the fun is just getting started.
It’s unclear why the TikTok algorithm has caused #BamaRush videos to show up on everyone’s FYP over the past few days, and it’s fascinating to think that we’re all suddenly obsessed with the fate of these potential new members. Maybe it’s the fact that we’ve all been indoors for way too long, or that this is one of the first in-person sorority recruitment seasons since the long-standing tradition went virtual.
Now, everyone on TikTok (including me) is determined to follow the drama. Who will get in where? Who won’t? Will these hopeful college women get their first choices? Will chaos ensue? Will we suddenly see behind the mysterious curtain that is Greek Life and get a front-row seat into the action? As someone who didn’t rush a sorority in college, but always secretly wondered what it’d be like, one thing’s for sure: I’ll be following along to see what happens.
And if Hannah-Grace doesn’t get a bid from Phi Mu, it’s on sight. Let the games begin.