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What A Rush!

I had no intention of rushing when I enrolled at Brown. To me, “Greek life” was merely a way to indicate a preference for Oikos yogurt. The idea of referring to peers as “sisters” and manipulating limbs to resemble the Greek alphabet seemed somewhat ludicrous.  I had seen enough of ABC Family’s (tragically canceled) Greek to decide that sorority life was not for me. 



Upon arriving on campus last fall, however, all of that began to change. It started at the activities fair where I was drawn to a booth that proudly promoted Kappa Alpha Theta. A smiley girl handed me a pamphlet, decorated with golden pansies and twirling kites, and asked if I had any interest in Greek life at Brown. I took the brochure in an effort to be polite, but like most of the literature I received that day, it sat in a desk drawer for months. However, when pre-rush events began to pop up around campus, I stopped at a few, fueled by a combination of curiosity and the promise of food.


The girls at these events were nothing like the manipulative Rebecca Logan. (Seriously, if you haven’t watched Greek, you should—it’s a treasure.) They were open, friendly, and happy to talk to me about the benefits of sorority life. After a few of these impromptu meetings, I decided to give rush a try. After all, what did I have to lose? Over winter break, I did a little shopping to prepare for the event; the outfit guidelines were pretty detailed, and I wanted to dress to impress.



Finally, last Saturday, the process began. I, along with over a hundred other potential new members (PNMs), piled into the Kasper Multipurpose Room where a sea of bubbly, cheerful faces awaited us. The conversation was slightly awkward but manageable, and we all strived to come across as the brightest, the liveliest, and the best candidate for the sorority of our choice.


I won’t bore you with the details of the rush procedure as it is very wash, rinse, repeat: go to this house, chat with these girls, then start all over again the next day. However, what’s more interesting is the subtle nature of the process as a whole.


You see, there is a key design flaw in the gatherings hosted by the chapters. Essentially, the sisters have thirty minutes or so to decide whether or not you merit a second meeting. Your life’s worth of experiences, ideals, and values are evaluated in less time than a single episode of Greek. You are encouraged to be yourself and yet, due to this time crunch, feel an immense pressure to ensure it’s the best version of yourself. You are expected to make the perfect first impression. These are unfortunate and inevitable consequences of a system that evaluates the personalities of so many girls in such a short time.

Of course, no system is perfect, and any recruitment process is bound to have its kinks. Brown sororities make a conscious effort to get to know each PNM and make every candidate feel welcome. However, the important lesson I took away from rush is this: the process does not define you. Not getting a bid from the sorority of your choice doesn’t mean that you aren’t good enough for it. Rather, it means that thirty minutes was not enough time to discover how truly spectacular you are. There is no possible way to flaunt your loyalty, your intelligence, your wit, and your passion in such a brief chunk of time.


They only got a condensed version of you. The real you has so much more to offer.


Full disclosure: I didn’t make it through the entire rush process. For one reason or another, I decided that right now was not the time for me to pledge. Maybe I’ll try again someday, or maybe I’ll just stick to living vicariously through Casey Cartwright. But I am grateful for the experience and the lessons I took from it. I watched some girls receive an offer from the sorority of their dreams while others walked away disappointed and hurt. But we all learned something, and we all come away from the process with another valuable experience under our belts.


Whether you’re a KΔ, a KAΘ, an AXΩ, or NΘNΣ of the above, you have something to offer. Go out and prove it. 




Devon is a Ben & Jerry's enthusiast, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. aficionado, Brown University scholar. Go easy on her, she's new here.
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