Recruitment sheds light on diversity, friendship in sorority
I did not expect myself to sign up for recruitment, much less rush, to find a home in a sorority as a junior this semester. Throughout the week, I told myself I had nothing to lose, and if I found somewhere that liked me, then my dream of volunteering with other girls at the no-kill animal shelter where I spent my past summer would come true.
So, I spent my second week of school participating in Panhellenic sorority recruitment, a five-day event at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The five days consisted of four rounds of talking to active members of the six sorority houses on campus: Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Omicron Pi, Kappa Delta, Tri Delta, Tri Sigma and Phi Mu.
The first day was breathtaking — it’s something I wish I could relive again and again. Honestly, it must be how some people feel about Disney World. The novelty of walking into each house for the first time is unimaginable, as a synchronized group of girls are smiling and singing to all potential new members, and potential new members are whisked away to be seated for their first conversation. Talk about real life Disney Princesses breaking out in song.
It was magical to find myself speaking up to a stranger with fifty other pairs chatting it up in one room of a house. The noise was unexpected, but I learned how loud I can be and applied the experience to my first presentation of the semester in front of the industrial design faculty and returning students. Suddenly, 100 pairs of eyes in front of me wasn’t so scary after that first day of recruitment.
As an older student rushing, I felt there was less pressure to worry about being released from houses, simply because I thought somewhere inside of me that I wasn’t a sorority girl. A junior among freshmen, I tried to keep my composure on the second day when half of the houses decided to release me.
The feeling was an initial shock that reminded me of not being called back for a second job interview, but as the remaining houses kept inviting me back, I began to question myself. These girls — are just like me?! I had thought of each conversation similar to in a job interview, but as I continued each round, I began to realize the conversations that felt effortless to impress and conversations where the laughter came most naturally was what felt like home with these girls.
During the summer, I thought maybe because I had a boyfriend, was in the middle of becoming a blonde or even just the fact I was a Southeastern Asian girl, might have inhibited my experience during recruitment. I was proven wrong as I met so many different girls — from potential new members to the actives in each house — all from a variety of backgrounds. The notion that Panhellenic sororities are overwhelmingly white, straight and upper-middle class women is beginning to change. I was not the only woman of color participating in recruitment, but I was among a few. I do not believe the lack of women of color rushing is because of prejudice or discrimination from sorority culture, but because of an absence of encouragement from their families based on cultural differences not valuing social interaction as a healthy part of college life.
A lot of young women join sororities for themselves and to be surrounded by women who want the same values and experience out of life: sisterhood, philanthropy, scholarship and leadership opportunities. If you are on the fence about rushing, I highly recommend doing it. I love my sisters, but I’d love to see more faces like mine — and they’d love to see the same. We’re all about empowering women — no matter the racial identity, body image, or cultural and religious background.