If you’re a freshman like me, then you might’ve done a little something called rush this past week, and you might have a few things to say about it. Overall, I wouldn’t consider rush week a failure, but I would not quite call it a success either.
COVID-19 has led to countless changes around this campus, and protective policies have definitely affected the social scene. As someone who came here knowing no one, it was a little tricky to adjust.
Like many of my friends I didn’t go to parties or many social events during the fall semester for fear of the virus, getting in trouble, and just general social anxiety. It is hard to be in a setting where you don’t know anyone, yet are expected to have the time of your life. Yes, I went to some gatherings, but I still stand by my statement that I was not a social butterfly. If you were, then I absolutely admire you for your bravery and outgoingness.
Anyway, rush looked a little different this year because of the pandemic. For sororities and fraternities, some of the rush process was in person, while some was on Zoom. For those who actually got out on the weekends, it was a breeze. You got the chance to meet members of organizations that you hoped to join and they knew who you were as well.
For others, it was a rather stressful and frustrating process of constantly meeting new people who could never remember who you were. I was somewhere in the middle. I had made enough connections through other parts of campus life that I was comfortable talking to some people, but I was still out of my element with others.
However, everyone that I’ve spoken to can agree that the reason they rushed was to find their people on campus. Everyone wanted a group that they could always rely on. Sororities and fraternities are a form of guaranteed friendship in this time when it’s very hard to form those relationships. The process began and people were hopeful. Sororities held “formal house” in stations at the Bishop’s Common, while fraternities hosted rushees in small groups at their house, allowing for an element of in-person interaction.
Then, girls heard about the 30 person limit. This only affected sororities and the rule was that no sorority could invite more than 30 new members. This was created in order to prevent the extinction of some smaller sororities on campus and to allow each organization the opportunity to welcome more new members.
I agree that this is an important policy and it starts a necessary conversation, but I believe that this was a very rough year to implement this policy. Yes, rush is nerve-wracking and somewhat stressful normally, but this year more people were relying on the process as an avenue for connection and friendship than ever before.
Then, we had Return House on Zoom. For sororities, everyone rushing had a 30 minute time slot to visit all the houses they wished to receive a bid from on Zoom. This became quite stressful as girls either wanted to visit many houses but had very little time at each, or they only visited a few but risked being completely overlooked by others.
No sorority or fraternity led their Zoom room the same way which is to be expected. Some had about 60 people all in one room while others were in breakout rooms. Boys rushing fraternities had similar thoughts about Zoom and everyone can agree that breakout rooms were better in this situation.
When everyone is together you either have to muster up the courage to introduce yourself in front of everyone and possibly interrupt, or you have to go unnoticed. Or, perhaps the worst of all, be put on the spot to answer difficult questions in front of that many people. My experience with the virtual parts of rush were very rewarding and I made amazing connections, but I definitely did not budget my time wisely.
Finally, it was Shake Day. My suitemates and I received our bids under our doors that morning as did about 200 other girls on campus. The boys had picked up their bid cards the day before. We were all ecstatic that we got invited to join the sororities we wanted.
Others weren’t as lucky as us. Many girls received bids from organizations at the bottom of their lists. I know more than one person whose bid card listed her tenth choice. There are ten sororities.
Shake Day was supposed to be this exciting, happy moment, but for many girls, it was devastating. This year was probably one of the hardest for new freshmen hoping to find that bond. It was a stressful and overwhelming experience that at the same time only took about an hour and a half. I believe that this would not have been nearly as painful if we were not in a pandemic or restricted by a 30 person limit. The environment that was created discouraged building relationships for some girls instead of promoting friendship.
Overall, I believe that rushing during COVID was handled as well as it could’ve been. Sororities and fraternities did a great job with what they were allowed to accomplish, and I did find friendship and sisterhood through the process.
I am very grateful that we were even able to have rush this year and I think that the University did a great job of allowing this to happen. I found my people and I am so thrilled to be a part of the community that I love. However, I expect there to be a lot of sophomores rushing as soon as the pandemic is over.