The rush of Rush
On the strangeness that is sorority recruitment
It’s that time of the year. Well, it just was.
I, along with a thousand of my compatriots, sacrificed three days of shower pressure and milk that does not come out of bags to move back in early and participate in what is certainly one of the weirdest experiences of my life. Welcome to Sorority Recruitment.
If someone had told me last year as a senior in high school that I would be partaking in this annual greek tradition, I probably would have needed medical attention from laughing so hard. A small brown girl, raised on bowl cuts and bro tanks did not seem like the ideal candidate for the “srat” life. After some convincing this year, though, I decided totry. Even after going through it, I’m still not sure I know what I’m doing — in fact, I’m sure I don’t, but I am definitely glad that I gave it a chance.
The morning of Friday the 10th brought this swarm of estrogen back to Grounds, complete with garment bags and statement necklaces. Dorm hallways soon turned into live runways, as girls strutted their selections for the various rounds — mine were conveniently sitting in my wardrobe, unselected. The Pinterest-savvy came equipped with crafty nametags that told me all about their lives in approximately four square inches of space — mine had a tomato*.
Saturday morning, we began our journey. The buses transformed into mobile perfume shops, transporting the masses to the Chapel, preserving everyone’s carefully crafted hairstyles. The swarm — there is really no other way to describe the collective of hundreds of girls in scarves and riding boots — trekked down Rugby to their respective destinations.
We lined up very formally in front of the houses, waiting for our names to be called out of the 75 on the list. I always knew when my name came, though, as it was unfailingly marked by the pause among all of the white girl names. Trying to kill the nerves, we found ways to entertain ourselves. My personal favorite strategy was blasting some old school Beyoncé — there’s really no way to go wrong with “Crazy in Love” stuck in your head.
The mission was simple: 16 houses, 2 days, no problems. Except yes problem. Talking to upwards of 50 girls about your name, where you’re from, how you’re liking U.Va. and what you’re majoring in is supremely exhausting. The monotony of the conversations was not helped by the dreary weather, which was a charming combination of rainy and freezing. So, for anyone interested for next year, I have devised a few alternative questions for Round Robbins:
-“What kitchen appliance are you most like and why?”
-“What circus act would you be?”
-“If you were a minion, what would you look like?”
-“What fairytale villain do you sympathize with most?”
-“How many licks does it take to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop?”
Now, these are all questions I have actually thought very carefully about. “What’s my major,” on the other hand, usually sparked a miniature existential crisis. The best part, is that they would crouch beneath us, looking up with utter admiration, as they heard for the hundredth time that someone was from Northern Virginia.
Several days later, we entered the world of themes, where we rushees saw everything from lion onesies to spot-on impressions of television sensations. This was also the day we learned that sitting in a small, cramped space with a dress on was a horrendous experience for our bodies.
Of course, like most things in my life, I did not realize this until it was too late. About three and a half minutes into the skit in my first house, I felt one side of my body completely fall asleep. But don’t worry, it was just one half, so I would be fine if I stood on the other half.
Okay, so I wasn’t fine. I stood up, and immediately went down, grabbing the head of the girl next to me on my way down for support. Needless to say, she was not thrilled about that. Still, I mentally high-fived myself for making it out of that experience without injury.
From there, rush became a little more normal, with substantive conversations. By that I mean discussing the specific shows I watched on Netflix, rather than just the fact that I did. I became a little more comfortable with the shameless girl-flirting and soul-selling I was partaking in, and eventually was lucky enough to find people I really liked.
So, I guess that weird process was worth it … Maybe.
*For the record, I am not so passionate about tomatoes that I wanted it to be the first thing I talked about. I tell people my name is “Sumedha like tomayta” to help them remember.
Sumedha’s column runs biweekly. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.