“We’ve been waiting for you all summer!!!” Snippets of recruitment videos with sweet lines like those have been going viral all year, and rightfully so. Sororities can be spaces that truly foster sisterhood, create community, and uphold values. However, two problems undeniably remain: the unintentionally patriarchal origin of sororities and the ongoing craze to rush into rush life.
Sororities and the Patriarchy
As much as there have been some credible efforts to dismantle the systemic barriers imposed by patriarchy, sororities are unfortunately still deeply embedded in such systems. Historically, sororities arose to create safe, bonding spaces for women in university as women only began attending college in the 1800s. In fact, the first sorority, Alpha Delta Pi, was founded in 1851 at the Wesleyan Female College in Macon, Georgia, on that exact premise. To date, such ideologies have not changed. However, the culture that caused sororities to form in the first place hasn’t progressed enough to align with some sorority values. For example, some groups oppose drinking and bringing back men to the sorority lodges. Yet, it’s simply a fact that most college sorority groups attend their fair share of parties. Such rules, however, can put women in an unsafe position because the fraternity houses now hold the power instead. It is also essential to recognize that some of the standards that women in sororities were and are upholding fall directly in line with patriarchal viewpoints. Therefore, if you are to enter a sorority, it is imperative to remember the roots so you don’t get lost along the way.
Sororities and Sisterhood
As shown in Max’s “Bama Rush” documentary centered on women rushing at the University of Alabama in 2022, sorority popularity has been on the rise. They’ve grown so much that parents seek consultants that they pay thousands of dollars (typically within the $4000-$5000 range) to secure that future bid for their child, according to Wall Street Journal. Essentially, these consultants teach these students what to wear, how to behave and present themselves on social media, what activities to pursue, and how to simultaneously blend in and stand out. But needless to say, this is scary. While sorority life can enrich one’s college experience, it should not feel like the end all be all. In other words, it is valuable to know that sisterhood also exists in various spaces. To truly create sisterhood, such communities should not condone preying on the aspirations of children. Instead, they should use other avenues for interested parties to learn more before rushing, such as university-specific sorority TikToks.
To Rush or Not to Rush
This all is to say that sororities have their merits and perks, and by no means was meant to be a dig, just a commentary. Thus, I have three tips for deciding whether or not you want to rush. 1) Reflect on yourself, and ask if your chosen sorority aligns with your values. As a college student, I know several students in sororities. Some love it, others don’t. But the ones who tend to love their experience made sure that the sorority fit them and their goals. 2) Get to know the other people interested in or within that sorority. Sororities are all about sisterhood, so you should ensure you’ll get that community through your decision. 3) Trust your gut! You know yourself best. Hopefully, by now, you’ve realized that sororities aren’t the end-all-be-all for a great college experience, but they certainly could enhance the experience for you! It all depends on who you are as an individual.
All in all, my advice is simply: rush all you want, just don’t rush (into) the process!