Sorority recruitment does not end in smiles for everyone

Deanna Passaretti

     Since the return of students from winter break, there have been two words that can be heard basically anywhere on campus: sorority recruitment. Hundreds of women returned to campus early to undergo the horrifying and exciting process known as “rush.” 

     When I first came to Villanova, I had no idea if Greek life was for me, but after meeting tons of sorority sisters, I decided I would try to join.  It couldn’t hurt. Many of my close friends were rushing, too, and I figured it would be a fun week of dressing up and “girl flirting” with them.  Unfortunately, recruitment didn’t turn out quite like I had imagined. 

     On the first morning of rush, I woke up terrified, eager, stressed and excited. Since there are nine sororities on campus, every girl was required to attend nine “rounds,” around 20 minutes each. Lines of girls stood outside rooms of screaming sorority girls chanting songs about their chapters, wondering how they would be assessed once in the room and how they should act, if any different from themselves. 

    The rounds were exhausting, as I’m positive they were for the sororities as well. I like to consider myself a fairly social person, but I’ve never experienced a situation that called for so much social energy and effort in my life. 

     On the first day we all met two or three girls from each chapter and were expected to hold a conversation with them, about literally anything, for the full allotted time, without awkward silences. During each of these meetings all I could think about was “how is she judging me right now? The way I talk? My eye contact?”  I’m still not sure I know. 

     By my final round I felt like a robot programmed for small talk and smiling—I was exhausted. And while that seemed like a lot of complaining, I did somehow have fun with many of the girls I met and I was happy to be able to meet so many of the faces I pass on campus every day. I didn’t really know what to think when I “went to sleep” (stayed up all night re-living each conversation) on day one. 

     At 4:30a.m. when I received the text telling me my schedule for day two. I personally wasn’t upset with it, but I know that day two of sorority recruitment was a brutal experience for many. It’s not like you get an explanation of why certain chapters dropped you. If you thought your conversations went well, it’s difficult to not take the rejections personally. When I made my way over to my first round of the day, I’ll never forget the amount of women I saw crying. Sure, that might seem a little dramatic, but it’s hard to not be dramatic when you’re literally surrounded by recruitment and a bunch of girls desperate to be accepted. 

  Recruitment was the topic of conversation for the entirety of time between rounds, so if all you had to talk about was bad news, it’s kind of devastating. I tried to keep an open mind, but I couldn’t really stop the stress, as I’m sure most women would agree with. By the end of day two, I was seriously starting to wonder if recruitment was worth the social and emotional exhaustion. 

     I have to say, my wakeup text on the third day of rush was one of the worst rejections I’d ever felt. I now know that it was a blessing to have been dropped by the sororities that I was, but at the time I had no perspective, and I really just felt worthless. I know this isn’t the intention of the sororities, and they “don’t want to drop any girl” but the reality is awful. And I didn’t just feel sorry for myself. I felt horrible for my friends and even for strangers too. 

   No woman should have to feel unwanted, but at the same time, how else would sorority recruitment work? I showed up to my third day of rounds pretty depressed and defeated; I smiled through and pretended to believe that everything happens for a reason. Without believing there will be a sincere and good reason for that rejection, I’m not sure it would’ve been possible to survive recruitment. 

     In the end, I couldn’t be happier with where I ended up. While I’ve only been with my sorority for a little over a week, I know it is where I was supposed to end up, and I am so happy that things worked out the way they did. 

     I still look back on recruitment with negative memories though, and I wish there was another way to do it.  I think it may just be a necessary evil that some women won’t escape from with a smiling face. I know so many great women that fell through the cracks and I wish I could convince the sisters to go back on their decisions. 

     I’m looking forward to everything my sorority has to offer this year, except for one thing: sorority recruitment 2016.