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  #1  
Old 06-30-2019, 03:23 PM
BlueBayou BlueBayou is offline
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Into the Woods - I journey into the forrest to find my sisters

Okay - this is a retro recruitment story. We have to travel back in time to 1986 and a Texas school with between 10,000 and 15,000 students as we head into the woods to find my sisters.

The school was on a deferred rush schedule. It was a formal rush - with chapters in matching taffeta tea length gowns. If there was COB - it was only one chapter, but I don't think there really was.

Only one sorority owned a home (more on that later) but all other sororities owned land on a "Greek Circle" and would have their homes built by the time I graduated.

At this school there were 6 sororities.
Alpha Chi Omega
Chi Omega
Delta Delta Delta
Delta Zeta
Sigma Kappa
Zeta Tau Alpha

Since this was deferred rush - you had a chance to know the sororities and they know you. The 5 sororities building there homes had members living in "wings" of 4 dorms on campus. One of the wings was the floor beneath me in my dorm.

I went through rush to "meet people" and did not have my heart set on joining a sorority. I really, fundamentally did not understand how a formal rush worked. I thought it would be like cocktail parties without the alcohol where you just socialized. I had no idea of what the reality was.

Part of the reason I thought rush would be like a series of actual parties is for some reason my senior year some ladies in my small town hosted a Panhellenic tea. I got an invite. But strangely my close friends from church and school did not. This was a time and a place where diversity (racial and socio-economic) was not valued. Thankfully things are much different now.

As an aside about me, while I am a native Texan born in the town where I went to HS, I lived from age 2 until my sophomore year of high school on the east coast. So I kind of stood out a little in this small town that did not get people moving there often. It's population is just over 20,000 today and has been that way since the '50s.

Looking back I understand that, while my extra curricular activities and friend circle were not normally what would have got me on the invite list for the tea (Math team, Theatre, Latin Club, Quiz Bowl - VS Drill team, Cheerleading, NHS, Key Club) my neighborhood and my father's profession were. I went to this tea and none of my friends were there. I socialized with the adult women more than I did the other kids (since none of them were close friends). It was a fine time and my mom and I left. References and recommendations were not something openly talked about. My mom did not go to college - and my dad was in a social chemical/chemistry fraternity (not an IFC) at the University of Texas. We did not know why we had to fill out a form and bring the number of photos for the number of sororities at your school to the party. We were seriously that clueless.

But my talking with the ladies at the party probably helped me immensely. I did not know I had recommendations/references when I went through rush. Once again - an example of my and my mom's sheer cluelessness - the host from the Panhellenic tea called my mom right before rush was starting and told her that they could not find anyone in our town that had any connection to Live Oak. Mom thought it was strange that this lady was calling to see if she knew any Live Oaks. My mom did not. We did not realize that meant the Panhellenic had secured references from the 5 other sororities.

Any here is how I and most of the rest of the rushees looked at the groups going into rush.

In no particular order lets call them
Live Oak - Middle Tier. Reputation as the party group of the school. Makes or comes close to quota.
Cedar - Middle to Bottom Tier. Makes or comes close to quota. This is the only sorority I new I had a reference to. A close friend of my mom's was one. And I really respected and still love that friend.
Acacia - Top Tier - Sporty and brunette. High GPA. Makes Quota
Sweetgum - Top to Middle - Great girls - Not at strict on GPA (This is where the top rushees without great grades would end up) Makes Quota
Willow - The struggling sorority. Does not come close to Quota
Pine - Top Tier - Blond and friendly. High GPA. Makes Quota.

In the pre-computer days - with a very struggling chapter - It was very easy to group sororities by popularity.
You had 3 that made quota, two that did or came close, and then you had one that had serious problems.

I don't think we had much of a developed Rho Chi program. There were a few girls that helped out that you did not know what sorority they were in - but we didn't have Rho Chi groups and a counselor assigned to us. (This changed during the time I was in college).

I should add that quota was over 40 for the first time when I went through - and the pledge class size continued to more than 50 while I was in school. So Panhellenic was transitioning to a larger operation.


Monday/Tuesday - (what would be called open house now)
Wednesday/Thursday - Max 6 - first invitational round
Friday - Max 4 (Skit)
Saturday - Max 3 (Skit, more emotional)
Sunday - Pref
Sunday evening - Bid night party

Oh and this was all paper invitation. So you would go up to the UC - and they would hand you a large envelope with our name on it. Inside would be your hand written invitations. You would then go to a table with girls from each sorority and sign up for a party time. They would write your party time on the invitation. So as rush progressed - they would see what other parties you were going to. They could also see which table you went to first.

I did not spend a bunch of money on clothes for rush. However, my Cedar reference owned the only bridal shop in town. It sold prom, cocktail and tea clothing as well. She would buy individual or a few pieces in Dallas at market. So it was a boutique where you did not see 20 of one dress. My last three days of rush were outfits she selected and sold to us. So I was not dressed in the expensive/trendy clothes you might find in the mall. I was dressed in items particularly selected to look good on me. Okay - it was the 80s. Two were full lace - almost a flapper look. VERY COMFORTABLE.

So let the "parties" begin
I believe the first round of parties took place in the University Center. It's been a few years so some of the details aren't there.

I was completely taken back by my first party. No one warned us. I was greeted at the door my a Acacia sister clapping and singing as she dragged me over to a chair and then knelt down at my feet to talk with me. I was in shock and did not handle my self well. The room was so noisy I could not hear her well. She said, "so you were are a Thespian, did you like that?" But she was mispronouncing Thespian - to where sounded like Lesbian. Like I made her repeat herself a couple times - because I seriously thought she was asking me if I was a lesbian. I mean I did not think sexual orientation would be the first thing asked. So once I realized she was butchering the pronunciation of Thespian - I told her she was saying it wrong and very firmly corrected her on how it is pronounced. Not a shining moment.

I should say I did not have a great impression of Acacia before rush and this painfully awkward conversation did not help things. My previous impression of that sorority is a cautionary tale of pre-judging based on one or two sisters. There were these two girls inAcacia that lived across the hall from me that seemed to always be drinking. They were the only two sophomores on a hall of freshmen. I was not impressed at all. What I did not realized is they were "hold overs." Pledges that did no make their grades, were not initiated and were living across the hall from me because they could not live on their sorority's wing below us. Not who I should base the whole chapter on.

Then one day I walked out in the hall right when they were getting busted for alcohol in their room. I have come to realize they thought I turned them in. I did not. But I knew I would never want to be associated with them. Ironically - I don't think either of the girls ever made their grades and were never initiated.


I do not remember anything specific about the parties for Live Oak, Cedar, Sweetgum, Willow, Pine except that Willow talked to you in groups instead of one on one.

Last edited by BlueBayou; 06-30-2019 at 03:29 PM.
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  #2  
Old 06-30-2019, 03:44 PM
BlueBayou BlueBayou is offline
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I should mention pref was on Sunday, January 26th - so school was in session. I guess that is why the first two rounds of parties were broken down into two days, even though there were only 6 groups on campus.

So it's time to go to the go to the UC to see what invitations we got. You could go to a maximum of 6 parties. I reached into my envelope and pulled out:
Live Oak
Cedar
Sweetgum
Willow
Pine

I have 5. And Acacia is missing. That is the first sorority I would have dropped - but it strangely stung to be rejected by them.

So I went to the table to sign up for my parties. These were nice invitations. Sweetgum in particular had really nice ones. I have no idea what order I went to these parties. Willow does stand out though. This is the chapter that was struggling. And for some reason they had a house. Not one of the big sorority houses being built on "greek row" but like a 3 bedroom ranch house in a neighborhood. And they made this round of invitations/party themed "The best little sorority house in Texas." From a branding standpoint - I question connecting their sisterhood with a wh**e house. Unless the home was a straight up donation - I do not understand how their nationals let them have the house. It was not a selling point at all. All the other sororities were having their parties in church meeting rooms, hotel conference rooms, wedding venues, and restaurant party rooms. For Willow you were packed into this house. I ended up on a sofa - the girl was rushing me and three other people at the same time. It was such a challenge. You really felt badly of them.

The rest of the parties were uneventful. I truly liked everyone I talked with. I seemed to be connecting more with Cedar, Sweetgum, and Pine but it was really a toss up.

Last edited by BlueBayou; 06-30-2019 at 04:07 PM.
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  #3  
Old 06-30-2019, 04:22 PM
BlueBayou BlueBayou is offline
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So it is the third round a parties. This is where you have to cut down to 4 Max. I went to the UC to get my invitations. Inside my envelope I found:
Live Oak
Cedar
Sweetgum
Willow
Pine

I had 5. So I had to "regret" one. Literally you had to hand the invitation back. I was sad to do it - because I really felt for the girls who were trying so hard - but I regretted Willow.

So I had to sign up for party times for
Live Oak
Cedar
Sweetgum
Pine

There were a couple of girls going through rush on my hall. Pretty much everyone wanted to have Pine , Sweetgum, and Acacia at this point.

This was the main "skit" round. I will confess, as a theatre minor, I found myself judging the acting and overall production value. I questioned Pine's Little Orphan Annie theme. That left you with a group girls rushing people in torn, orphan clothing. Sweetgum did something Alice in Wonderland themed. In all it was great to see the girls having fun together. I continued to like them all - but was feeling a stronger connection to Cedar, Sweetgum, and Pine

Last edited by BlueBayou; 06-30-2019 at 05:40 PM.
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  #4  
Old 06-30-2019, 04:24 PM
Jen Jen is offline
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Originally Posted by BlueBayou View Post
I was completely taken back by my first party. No one warned us. I was greeted at the door my a Acacia sister clapping and singing as she dragged me over to a chair and then knelt down at my feet to talk with me. I was in shock and did not handle my self well.

This reminds me SO MUCH of my first room during recruitment (in 2000). Despite being on Greekchat and thinking I was well versed in recruitment stuff, absolutely no one had warned me about this. The door is flung open (we rushed in classrooms then) and members were lined up either side of the door, chanting and clapping and I was the first person in and had to walk through this gauntlet. It shocked the hell out of me, and I didn't really recover in that room - got dropped the next round lol.


Once I knew what to expect I was fine in the rest of the rooms, but with no warning it was intimidating!
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  #5  
Old 06-30-2019, 04:36 PM
BlueBayou BlueBayou is offline
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Round 4

Back to the UC to get your invitations. You could go to a Max of 3 parties. Inside my envelope:
Live Oak
Cedar
Sweetgum
Pine

This was the hardest cut I had to make. I liked them all. I ended up probably letting "tent" talk sway me on this one. Live Oak had more of a party girl reputation and that was not me. So I handed back my Live Oak invitation and signed up for the following parties.

Cedar
Sweetgum
Pine

I think this was my favorite round. There were sort of skits or song presentations. I think it was geared to showcase sisterhood. Pine's stood out - everyone was dressed in black - but completely different outfits. It was Chorus Line themed in a Italian restaurant with strands of lights all around. Sweetgum was a candlelit teddy bear pajama party held inside an old school house and Cedar was Sound of Music. They were all emotional.

I did not know what I was going to do. Part of that was because this is where the "dirty rushing" by Cedar began. They kept telling me I was one of their top rushees. There was a place for me with them. I would be at the top of their bid list etc.

I liked all three but Sweetgum and Pine a little more than Cedar.
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  #6  
Old 06-30-2019, 04:58 PM
BlueBayou BlueBayou is offline
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Preference day

I was really torn at what I was going to do. I did not know how I was going to choose between the three. I opened up my packet and inside:
Cedar
Pine

Well I guess I didn't have to worry about choosing. I tried to figure out what went "wrong" and why Sweetgum didn't ask me back. I do think the person rushing me was looking for clues about my interest and I never said stuff like "I love the sisterhood" and "I would like to be a part of something like this." But getting released by Sweetgum did kind of jar me pref.

Up first was Pine . Arguably the most sought after group on campus. At this school, at that time, Pine and Acacia were almost universally regarded as the top two. They both had significantly higher GPA standards than the other 4 groups. The party was touching and I felt wanted. But not overly so. They were rushing me clean. And I did not understand that they were saying everything they "legally" could. I left with a great feeling - but after what happened with Sweetgum I did not know if they really wanted me.

Up next was Cedar - The ceremony brought out a lot of tears, but not from me. I felt emotionally more connected to Pine . But Cedar really made me feel wanted. The president stopped by, they introduced me to the pledge trainer, they kept telling me how much they wanted me. Lots and lots of "dirty rushing."

So time to make my decision back at the UC.

I'm a statistical girl. I knew my reference for Cedar was glowing. And based on their past rushes since they sometimes didn't make quota - If you got invited to pref - you were almost assured a bid. And quite frankly all the dirty rushing probably worked opposite of what they hoped.

My next door neighbor in the dorm was kind of a rush buddy. She and I went to the same two sororities for pref. She decided to suicide the Pine . I tried to talk her out of it. I liked both and would have been proud to wear either letters. She did not listen to me.

For me I listed:
Pine
Cedar

So many girls wanted Pine . I figured I would not get Pine - and I would be happy with Cedar.

Last edited by BlueBayou; 07-01-2019 at 02:03 PM.
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  #7  
Old 07-01-2019, 11:10 AM
BlueBayou BlueBayou is offline
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Bid Day

The way it worked at my school is the parties were over by 3:30pm. You were told to go back to your room and wait for a call from Panhellenic. You did not want that call. The call meant that you were a quota victim.

And in the pre-computer days and no existence of "maximizing your options" there was such a thing as a "quota victim." Even if you went to both parties - you could not be high enough on both sororities bid lists.

The calls were suppose to come by 6pm I believe. But there were a record number of girls going through rush, and there was that struggling sorority that was impacting the number of people opting to "suicide" one particular sorority. So there were more quota victims that you would ever want to see. The calls took longer to make because of the volume and I suspect there were probably some type of "snap" bids being offered. But that was not something that was ever discussed or confirmed.

If you didn't get a call - you waited for a group of girls to show up to your door with your bid card, door tag, t-shirt and other swag.

It was past the time that all calls were supposed to be made. Probably almost an hour past the time. My next door neighbor that had suicided Pine's phone rang. She was a quota victim. In pre-cell phone days - you had roommates running between the rooms updating us.

I would say within 2 minutes - we heard the Acacia girls on wing below us chanting and cheering. My friend had to be one of the absolute last calls made.

So at this point - even though Pine was my top choice - I was hoping beyond hope that Cedar would show up at my door. I would have been happy there too. And frankly, I figured Pine wasn't going to show up anyway - if my friend didn't get in.

Then came the knock. A sea of Mickey Mouse themed swag and a bid card from....






Pine


(on a side note - my parents called right as the knock at the door came. Because things were running so late - they figured my roommate forgot to call and update them. It was about two hours past the time we expected to be picked up. It was funny to hear my non-greek roommate try to give a play-by-play describing the greek letters so my parents would know what sorority it was)

I had serious mixed emotions. I was just offered a bid to the sorority I truly believed was the best one on campus. But I was very torn because I felt these young women had callously tossed my friend aside and hurt her feelings. She was so much more into joining a sorority than I was. I was worried that I just got caught up the process.

I signed my big card and was whisked away to a bid party at a Mexican restaurant. It was noisy and everyone seemed so happy. But if you look at the picture of the whole chapter - I am on the bottom left hand side of the front row looking shell shocked while everyone else is smiling big as can be.

I don't remember much about the party - but the actives were extremely happy with the pledge class. Apparently - almost everyone pledged was off the top bid list. They only went a couple people down on their second bid list (and once on the other side of things - I learned our sorority did not invite as many people to pref as they could, because they were more often a rushee's number 1 choice vs number 2). But not understanding the process, all the talk of the "wonderful" pledge class made me sadder for my friend. Why did they consider me "better" than her.

Last edited by BlueBayou; 07-01-2019 at 01:28 PM.
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  #8  
Old 07-01-2019, 12:36 PM
carnation carnation is offline
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I'm happy that you got your first choice! Did your neighbor ever pledge?

My rush roommate plus another cheerleader went to 2 pref parties each and neither got a bid.
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Old 07-01-2019, 01:26 PM
BlueBayou BlueBayou is offline
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Originally Posted by carnation View Post
I'm happy that you got your first choice! Did your neighbor ever pledge?
No. My neighbor never pledged. She only had eyes for Pine. She did try to go through the next year - but this was back when some sororities, including Pine, did not take or took very few Sophomores. She dropped out. At that point our relationship crumbled - because now she could blame me for her not getting into Pine.
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Old 07-01-2019, 01:42 PM
BlueBayou BlueBayou is offline
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Post Bid Day - My thoughts afterwards

I do regret not fulling embracing Pine right after I pledged.

When pledge retreat rolled around, I was again overwhelmed. At least half of my pledge class was cheerleaders, drill team and homecoming queens. I was math team, quiz bowl and theatre. I felt like I did not fit in and that I was a fraud. That I had acted my way into Pine.

But these girls in my pledge class were SO SWEET. And the actives were so kind and supportive. Overtime I realized that Pine supported differences. And I bet Cedar did not have any math team/quiz bowl pledges either.

It's not about finding someone like you - It is about being part of a group that will support you.

Slowly I embraced Pine though I still was involved in all my other campus activities and did not hold a sorority office until my senior year. By that time the house was built and I lived in it. My senior year made me wish I had jumped in full steam ahead my Freshman year.

I have lived in different cities over the years and have always been a member, while not always super active, of my alumnae association. It really is a life long membership. I have a daughter going through rush this fall and I hope she finds a sisterhood where she can thrive.

Oh and I forgot to mention Pine is

Delta Delta Delta
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Old 07-01-2019, 01:51 PM
BlueBayou BlueBayou is offline
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Oh and a sad postscript about the struggling chapter. They had a pretty strong pledge class - about 1/2 quota. But they they continued to struggle in further years and they closed down around the time I graduated.

Another sorority tried to colonize, I think in the 90s, but they did not last. So the school still has only 5 sororities.
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Old 07-01-2019, 01:54 PM
BlueBayou BlueBayou is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jen View Post
It shocked the hell out of me, and I didn't really recover in that room - got dropped the next round lol.


Once I knew what to expect I was fine in the rest of the rooms, but with no warning it was intimidating!
I really don't understand why we were not warned about thing like this. The people kneeling at your feet talking to you, like they are a shoe salesman, is just plain odd.
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Old 07-01-2019, 02:07 PM
AZTheta AZTheta is offline
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I was kinda sorta thinking "Tri Delta" and ha! I was correct. Enjoyed your story immensely because I felt somewhat like you when I pledged Theta and I didn't see how I fit in with all those Southern California sunny blondes. BUT it worked out just fine.

Sad for those PNMs who were cross cut. RFM has put an end to that.

And bwahahahaha about the shoe salesmen observation! So accurate.
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Old 07-01-2019, 02:26 PM
BlueBayou BlueBayou is offline
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Originally Posted by AZTheta View Post
Enjoyed your story immensely because I felt somewhat like you when I pledged Theta and I didn't see how I fit in with all those Southern California sunny blondes. BUT it worked out just fine.

Sad for those PNMs who were cross cut. RFM has put an end to that.

And bwahahahaha about the shoe salesmen observation! So accurate.
It's strange because we had the reputation for being blond (I am dark brown, or was... before the gray) and while there were some girls with very blond hair - if you look back at the photos - the chapter does not look blond. But at the time - it felt like I had pledged into a sea of blond.
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Old 07-01-2019, 02:27 PM
PGD-GRAD PGD-GRAD is offline
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This is a wonderfully-told story with a bit of a twist but an eventual happy ending. Its realism is something that I hope many PNMs will read and take to heart.

And you’ve already begged the question: will you please post (or encourage your d to post) her OWN recruitment journey this fall? And GOOD LUCK to her!
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