Thousands of college freshmen across the the country arrive to college and are immediately faced with an important decision: to join Greek life or not. At many schools, formal rush happens either before school actually starts, or within the first couple of weeks. But at other schools, including my own, formal rush is delayed until the start of the second semester in January. I knew nothing about recruitment going into college, and just assumed that there wouldn’t be much talk about rush or Greek events in the fall semester. But that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Delayed formal recruitment just means you have an entire semester to get stressed out over the process of informal rush. Don’t be fooled by “informal”- informal rush is a very real and very important part of the process. If you are just hearing of this phenomenon, fear not, for by the time you’ve finished this article, you will be well-versed in all the aspects of informal rush.
This might be the scariest part of informal rush. Rush dates are coffee or lunch-type events that older sorority women will invite you to. You can be invited to these in a number of different ways. Some schools allow sororities to send out blast emails to lists of random girls inviting them to meet up. The purpose of these is for organizations to make connections to younger girls and “rush” them. Some schools have outlawed these practices, meaning that sorority women will have to actually meet you face to face before they can invite you out. Rush dates can be really intimidating, and it can be stressful when it seems like everyone around you is going on a million everyday, but they really are just opportunities for you to get to know each chapter a little better. Not going on a ton of them is less of an issue than it seems too. You’ll find yourself getting to know older girls around campus no matter what. When formal rush does roll around, you’ll be bound to recognize at least one friendly face at each house during the first night.
Meet the Greek Events
Not every school has these or does them exactly the same, but the general idea is that a bunch of sorority women from all the sororities on campus will be around to meet freshmen. They can take the form of ice cream socials, s’mores socials, football tailgates, or really anything with food. Some schools also consider philanthropy events during the fall semester to be Meet the Greek Events, and encourage freshmen to attend. Although it seems that most schools don’t have these, some schools have informal open houses, where you will go with your Rho Gamma group to a different house every weekend to meet the sorority women and see their houses. These events are very similar to the first night of rush, and provide good practice for holding small talk.
There. Are. So. Many. Rule. Most schools have a policy in place stating that sorority women can’t provide anything to freshmen, including alcohol, rides, and even food (unless the freshmen reimburses the woman). This does put a bit of an obstacle in the way of fostering real friendships with older girls, and it can be a bit overwhelming to try to keep them all straight in your head. Lines can get blurry at parties when there are drinks being poured everything, and if you accidentally wander into a sorority woman’s house party, you can bet you’ll awkwardly be asked to leave. It can also get really confusing when some sororities break the rules (otherwise known as dirty rushing), and invite certain clusters of girls to secret “rush” parties, complete with alcohol and pre-purchased food. Know that it’s best to try and take the rules seriously, because while you likely will not be held accountable if they are broken (the responsibility is typically put on the sorority women since they should know better), you could earn yourself a potentially damaging reputation. The rules are there to make sure the rush process goes as smoothly and fairly as possible, and it’s important to respect that.
For the boys
Boy have it a lot easier. They have very few informal rush events, save for some invite-only cocktail parties and information sessions. Also, fraternities typically have way few rules that sororities about what can and cannot happen during informal rush. Boy will literally be wined and dined- frats have been known to invite freshmen to fancy, paid for, steak dinners and on camping trips in luxurious cabins. Most notably, there aren’t many restrictions when it comes to alcohol, meaning a lot of “guy rush” is playing pong and normal, stress-free party stuff. Of course, it’s just as important for guys to make good impressions on the frats they are interested in, but they have a lot more lee-way, especially since there are way more frats than sororities on most campuses. For girls, it can often feel like they have to compete with other freshmen girls for bids, but for guys, the frats are competing amongst themselves to impress the freshmen.
Informal rush is a monster in and of itself. It is very stressful and makes the build-up to formal rush all the more intense. But it does give you an opportunity to truly figure out which chapters, if any, are right for you. It creates situations where you are pretty much forced to make friends with some upperclassmen and you’ll probably get some free food out of it. It provides time to create your own identity on campus before you are bound to a set of letters. Embrace informal rush for what it is, and remember not to get too hung up on the little details.