Don’t be alarmed by the loud chanting or singing coming from large houses near campus this week — it’s just the start of rush.
During the Panhellenic Association’s sorority recruitment, usually called rush, University students participate in events that let them learn about the houses in four rounds. “Rushes” rank their top choices for a house throughout the process, while sisters in the house simultaneously rank the rushes they think would best fit in the sorority.
Sorority recruitment may seem like a song and dance to some onlookers, but to both sisters and rushes, the process can be grueling.
“I had no idea what a huge production it was,” said LSA freshman Maya Massing-Schaffer, who was among the groups of students waiting outside the sorority houses on Hill Street last night.
She also walked through the pouring rain on Sunday to meet the sisters and be wooed by the elaborate decorations and boisterous singing offered at each house.
Sunday and last night comprised the first round of the rush process. Rushes are divided into groups and as they approach a house — they visit all 15 for the first set — the sisters greet them with shouting and singing. Each visitor is then paired with a sister so they can get to know each other and will talk to as many as five more sisters during a stay. Sorority members also perform a song and a skit for the rushes.
After each set, potential new members rank their house preferences and sorority sisters rank the rushes. The number of houses a student visits declines with each set, as their pool of potential houses narrows.
Kinesiology junior Chelsie Russ, a “Rho Omega,” or sorority recruitment officer who helps the prospective sisters through rush, said her position let her see the process from another angle.
“It’s just fun getting to meet all the girls,” she said.
LSA freshman Megan Novak, who participated in the mixer last night, said she was impressed by the houses’ dedication to their themes, which range from Alpha Gamma Delta Greek goddesses to a Delta Delta Delta pajama party.
“Some houses go all-out,” she said. “They dress up, and every inch of the house is covered.”
Russ said Rho Omegas are in a unique position because they aren’t allowed to tell the girls which sorority they’re in. The goal is to let prospective sorority members ask questions without feeling pressure in one way or the other.
As the houses prepared to welcome the rushes last night, Rho Omegas mingled and answered questions from students. Right as the clock hit 7 p.m., the singing began.
Alpha Chi Omega could be heard from streets away belting their rendition of Belinda Carlisle’s “Heaven is a Place on Earth.” Wearing white dresses, they welcomed the girls as they filed into the house singing “At Alpha Chi, sisters come first, Alpha Chi is heaven on earth.”
Meanwhile, Kappa Kappa Gamma channeled their tropical theme and sang about the “Kappa Kabana” while wearing lei necklaces and pounding on the windows.
A group of Alpha Epsilon Pi brothers gathered outside their house on Hill Street to watch the proceedings.
LSA sophomore Adam London, a member of the fraternity, said sorority rush is much different than the fraternity recruitment process.
“It’s funnier for us, because we practice never for rush,” London said. “It’s an incredibly intense process. Every house has like a different color, and it has ribbons, and you can’t walk inside,” he said of the sororities.
Fraternity brothers weren’t the only ones gawking. One man yelled “It’s a dream come true” from his car as he drove past the girls waiting outside the houses.
Although visiting eight houses in one night might seem overwhelming, LSA freshman Claire Ewing said the sisters make an effort to ease new students’ transition to the University.
“It’s overwhelming and crazy,” she said, “but it’s fun.”