Geauxing Greek: A Personal Experience
Formal sorority recruitment was like Mulan’s training montage in the Disney movie itself: filled with singing, dancing and bonds made from the daunting (and sometimes overwhelming) experience.
I came in knowing that most of the stereotypes I heard about Greek life were false. Last year, I wrote a story about Alpha Delta Pi’s first year on campus and really enjoyed learning about Greek life. As a scatterbrained, naive freshman, I dove in and liked what I found. With writing for campus, I also met a lot of sorority members and alumnae that made the stereotypes seem far-fetched.
The process was one I didn’t think I would enjoy, for I knew I was writing about my experience from day one. The past month was filled with meetings (or, at least, setting up meetings) with assistant dean of students Erica Schwartz and associate dean of students Heidie Lindsey where we spoke about how writing the article would affect me as a prospective sister. Their regional president made them tell chapter leadership that I would be there, and I would be writing about my experience.
Knowing that, I could not have been more tightly wound than I was at convocation. It was like entering a whole other world.
I never saw myself as a Greek girl. The Vermilion is, was and has always been what I thought would be my greatest plunge into the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s organizations. Part of me wanted to fade away and go jump in the swamp to dull my nerves and let out the nervous energy that I built up from attending meetings and asking myself what I wanted.
Although I wanted to rush, the anticipation was dreadful.I asked myself what I would do if I actually joined a sorority when I have a bunch of other time commitments that were making my head spin come the beginning of this semester.
The most worrisome part was that I didn’t know what I wanted. As the night went on, I avoided dwelling on it.
We were split up into random groups (group five represent), which were led by Gamma Chis — girls that temporarily disaffiliated themselves from their sororities to be our guides for the week. I felt weird being an upperclassman with a vague knowledge of Greek life and an article to write. I initially felt like part of me was under a microscope for different reasons than the other girls. I felt exposed and fake, and part of me wanted to just leave after I got the t-shirt. At least I could say I took the first step.
That quickly changed because the real fun started when we went into houses filled with girls singing. Recruitment is a well-oiled machine: Gamma Chis had walkie-talkies in order to guarantee they were on the same wavelength. It seemed like they didn’t even need them to be in sync.
They lined us up in alphabetical order, and we were required to leave our phones and bags outside as we were guided into each house. We were greeted and paired off with a sister who would guide us to a chair in the decorated main room. They kneeled by us on pillows to save their kneecaps, and they tried their best to be heard above the rest in attempt to find out more about us.
Conversation topics ranged from favorite movies to travel destinations — even about mutual friends in Greek organizations. I did not meet a single girl who made the process feel weird or uncomfortable. That’s when I realized rushing as a sophomore, along with growing up in Lafayette, helped with that experience.
As the days went by, sessions in each house got longer and the list of houses to visit shrank. I went from all six houses to ADPi and Alpha Omicron Pi, which was a jump that I initially attributed to them knowing my plan to write about the story. A co-worker told me that certain sororities only hand bids to freshmen, which made me relax; besides, both houses were ones I liked.
I was completely exhausted after each day; however, the energy I got from the women I met was electrifying, and I did not feel tired until the moment my head touched my pillow. The most worrisome part was waiting for the schedule of houses; the second most was looking at them and, for some girls, accepting the fact that the sorority they thought was right for them may not have been after all.
With the fewer houses came more questions about what it meant to be “cut” from a house. Our Gamma Chis said it was a mutual process, as we label the houses by preference after the rounds of socializing. The whole process was intentionally vague to guarantee girls were their true selves which, while understandable, was very perplexing when trying to figure out why some houses were no longer on the list.
Despite worries about which house, I found it easy to be present in the situation. My freshmen year was a continuous transition in and out of interviews for jobs, conducting interviews for articles and watching the pros interview world leaders and public figures.
I found things blossomed when the time was right.
We had Philanthropy day where we learned about each houses’ organization they help support. We did crafts related to the mascot in both of the houses I went to, whether it was making a lion plush or writing a nice note to someone.
That was when I realized I was hooked on AOII.
Things felt very natural with them. I came in with a lot of people telling me that was the sorority for me, and I couldn’t help but agree. All of the sororities were wonderful, and the people I met there will always hold a special place in my heart; however, I felt most genuine with this group of girls.
Preference day was an early morning and a more intimate, serious party. People spoke about why they joined AOII, some with tears in their eyes. The raw emotion I saw from the girls brought me to tears as well. I related to a few of the stories, and the girls were nothing short of wonderful. If I wasn’t sure AOII was right for me, I was certain then.
Bid day was the last day. My Gamma Chis told the group the final day was “like Christmas times 200,” and they weren’t far off the mark. As they called names, gave people their bids and directed them where to go, the girls waiting cheered them on. Many girls shed tears and reunited with the group after many hugs.
We knew before our respective sororities did, and we revealed by unzipping our jackets and revealing our jerseys. While not required to do so, new AOII sisters and I grouped together to run out. Unzipping lasted a second, but it felt like an eternity. The sororities went crazy and met new members with open arms and nearly toppled over hugging the freshmen.
After the reveal, we went back to our houses. Each one had a different theme, decorations and photo ops, as well as the opportunity to meet and greet even more sisters.
They lined us up once more, but it was a much more laid-back process. One by one, we ran in and met our “Aunt Stellas” at the end of the cheering girls. My aunt, Brittany — who was also the girl I spoke with during preference — guided me throughout the house while I tried not to look too much like a dork scanning over the house and trying not to get whiplash.
The kindness and immediate acceptance from the group was breathtaking in itself. So many women ran up to me and told me how glad they were I got in: women I knew, women I met in earlier classes and perfect strangers. One girl even said “I don’t know you, but I’m so glad you’re in AOII.”
All I could do was smile and thank them in a high-pitched voice that was the product of spending the last five days shouting; however, inside I was melting. At some points, it literally felt like I was melting from being surrounded by so many people.
This week was amazing; I can’t say I wouldn’t change everything about my recruitment. I definitely wish I would have talked more and have been less nervous. That is everyone, though. I feel like I can talk to anyone and feel comfortable. With less than 24 hours spent with my house, I feel like a new, more energized person.
The worries I had faded with the days, and although being a part of such a tight-knit group will take time, I feel like I’ve found a support group to keep me going when times are tough: one outside of my home, jobs and even organizations.
A lot of girls came in knowing very few people and came out with friends that would last a lifetime, and I found a lot of new friends and strengthened bonds with acquaintances. I highly recommend recruitment to any and every girl who has ever thought about it.