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Old 09-06-2009, 03:11 PM
changedmylife changedmylife is offline
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Retro Rush Story: My sorority membership changed my life

Disclaimer: I post under another name, but wanted to share my rush story with a different name since Iíve written about my college experience before and didnít want to spoil the story ahead of time.

I attended a large Midwestern university and lived at home while going to school. My best friend from high school also attended the same university, but lived on campus. I was the first woman in my family on either side to graduate from college and, consequently, had no Greek background at all. Going Greek was not a big focus at my high school either so I knew basically nothing.

Each summer all freshmen women received in the mail a large, thick sorority rush booklet with information about each chapter, rush phases, etc. There were sixteen sororities at that time and the Greek system was very visible and active on campus. I spent lots of time looking through the booklet, very interested in Greek life. I mentioned it to my friend, but she had no interest in rushing. Even though I was a leader in both academics and extracurriculars in high school, I am also an introvert who does not enjoy making small talk at large social gatherings and in the end did not have the courage to try rush alone. So I never signed up even though I was very interested.

My freshman year I met a few Greeks in classes. I got to know one fraternity guy in my foreign language class who was drop dead handsome and a member of one of the top fraternities on campus. He was a great, friendly ambassador for the Greek system and he encouraged me to rush. I also met a sorority member through an honors organization we were both in. She was a member of a top sorority on campus with a reputation for having a gorgeous home and smart, classy girls. She, too, encouraged me to consider rushing in the fall. Several of the women on my friendís dorm floor pledged and I interacted with them in a limited way while spending time visiting my friend. But, in all honesty, the more Greeks I met and observed on campus, the more I felt like I probably wouldnít fit in even though I still found the whole Greek thing incredibly appealing.

It amazes me how the course of a personís life can change through the most seemingly trivial action. In my case in came about through picking up a business card while shopping at a mall out of town. The spring of my freshman year, I picked up a business card in a favorite store and discovered that they would be opening a location in my city that summer. I had been working at my previous job for a few years and was ready to do something different. This store was right up my alley so I started regularly calling the mall for the contact information. I applied to the store and was hired in August. I didnít know it at the time, but working there would be the catalyst to start me on the road to finally finding my Greek home.
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Old 09-06-2009, 04:00 PM
changedmylife changedmylife is offline
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Fall of my sophomore year I did not go through formal rush. Some of the desire to join a sorority had faded since I just didnít see myself fitting in with many of the Greek women I observed on campus. I was involved with other things, had switched majors to something more time-consuming, and had started my new job. I was still living at home. But throughout the course of the fall I felt like something was missing in my college experience. Because I was commuting, it still felt like high school in some ways. Much of life revolved around the dorms and I didnít have that natural connection on campus so I felt detached and left out.

After starting my new job, I discovered that two of my coworkers were in a sorority together. I was surprised because they didnít fit the sorority stereotype I had come to expect. One of the women and I really hit it off. (Iíll call her Katie.) Katie spent a lot of time educating me about the Greek system, rush, etc. She talked about how much she enjoyed the diverse women in her chapter and the fun things they did together. She often wore her pin and was very proud of her national organization. She told me that five of the sororities would be holding informal rush in January, including her own chapter. Katie got the rush information for me and I was interested in four of the houses. Iíll name the sororities after four favorite vacation destinations:





So I signed up for informal rush and Katie helped me choose what to wear, etc. Without her help and encouragement I never would have made it through. After signing up, I found out that the president of one of the sororities (Vermont) was the sister of one of my brotherís good friends. So it felt good to have a connection to or know someone in two of the houses. Katie and my other coworker were in Mackinac.

One thing that I especially appreciated about the way Katie handled things was that she encouraged me to visit other chapters, not just her own. She had lots of nice things to say about the other groups, friends she had in the other houses, and their different strengths. She didnít hide the fact that she hoped I would end up a Mackinac, but she tried to be fair to me in helping me find the sorority home that was best for me.

The first event was an informal meet and greet on Sunday afternoon. Each sorority had a table set up with a display and a couple of women there to talk with the rushees. I am not a small talk kind of person. Iím much more a have a cup of coffee and a long meaningful discussion type person. So even going to this kind of event was out of my comfort zone. But I went and talked to women at the different tables. I spent a lot of time listening to the other rushees, honestly amused at how hard some of them were selling themselves to the sorority members. (Thatís just not me.) The president of Vermont was at their table and she went out of her way to rush me hard and get to know me. And obviously Katie had tipped off her sisters to look for me because I was warmly greeted at the Mackinac table as Katieís friend and coworker.

I wasnít very impressed by the women I met at Scotland. They werenít very enthusiastic and it was hard to even get information out of them. They seemed kind of standoffish and uncomfortable. Iím not sure why the two of them were selected to do that kind of activity.

I had decided not to pursue Maine because their party the second night was the same time as Mackinac, my coworkerís sorority. I donít know why Panhel let them set it up that way, but they did and so rushees had to choose between the two. It was an easy decision for me given my connection with Mackinac, but that cut the number of sororities I was visiting to three. At the end of the meet and greet I left cautiously optimistic and looking forward to the first round of parties.
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Old 09-06-2009, 07:23 PM
Senusret I Senusret I is offline
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cml, you said five sororities were doing informal -- how come you only chose four?
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Old 09-06-2009, 07:33 PM
tld221 tld221 is offline
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good question. unless its this thing youre going to fill us in on later...
Do you know people? Have you interacted with them? Because this is pretty standard no-brainer stuff. -33girl
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Old 09-06-2009, 07:42 PM
changedmylife changedmylife is offline
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Good question.

The other sorority was a historically and very predominantly (on my campus) Jewish sorority. I am an active Protestant Christian and didn't feel that it would work well for me.
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Old 09-06-2009, 07:48 PM
Senusret I Senusret I is offline
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Gotcha.... seems fair to me.

It's funny how on some campuses, Jewish sororities are niche-fillers, but on others, they are just another NPC org.
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Old 09-06-2009, 07:56 PM
changedmylife changedmylife is offline
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The first night the first open house party was at Vermont. When I walked in, all the women were standing on the stairs singing and clapping. Even though it was the first time I had ever been in a sorority house, I felt immediately like I was home. It was an overwhelming, warm feeling. I enjoyed talking with the women there and being introduced around. The chapter president again went out of her way to speak with me. The girls were all friendly and positive. They seemed very comfortable with each other.

After an hour it was time to head to Mackinac, my coworkerís sorority. I drove to their house which was a short drive away and went in. Katie was there and spent time introducing me to her sisters. They were very nice girls, diverse and friendly. It was a pleasant time and I felt warmly welcomed and wanted.

The next evening I started out again at Vermont for their second open house. Again, I had a very nice time and enjoyed meeting more of the sisters and touring the house. I felt comfortable there and was definitely warming up to the idea that I could fit into sorority life.

Next I went for my first visit to Scotland. I hadnít had a very positive impression of them at the meet and greet on Sunday, but Katie encouraged me to still go and visit their chapter. There were a lot of women there and we were crowded into a small room. It was almost impossible to carry on a conversation over the loudness and either the woman I was paired with didnít like me or wasnít a good conversationalist. To this day I donít know what it was, but that was one of the longest hours in my life. It was almost like I had to carry the conversation. Conversation was forced and no one ever came to bump my rusher so it was overall not a very positive experience. One thing I did really like about their sorority was the tradition they had of each chapter member sending a cup and saucer from their china when they married. They had them displayed throughout the room and I thought it was a lovely tradition.

After leaving Scotland I went to Mackinac. It was an enjoyable time and I could tell the women were interested in getting to know me better. They spoke of fun sister events, involvement on campus, etc. They were proud of their national organization and their connection with it. Their president was a beautiful young woman who was lovely and gracious. I thoroughly enjoyed talking with her. Overall it was a positive experience, but I didnít sense a growing attachment to Mackinac the way I felt with Vermont.

The next day I was unable to attend the open house party at Vermont due to a class conflict. I had gone out of my way the day before to let them know why I wouldnít be there and that I was still very interested. They assured me that it was fine and that it was more important to be in class.

After class I was able to go back to Scotland for a second party. I wanted to give them another chance, but there was just not a connection there for me. I never felt comfortable there. I clearly sensed that I was not supposed to be a Scotland.

Preference invitations were to go out for the different parties to be held on Thursday and Friday. I was pleased to receive invitations to both Vermont and Mackinac. I didnít receive one from Scotland and I was ok with that (other than feeling a little wounded in my pride that I hadnít been able to ďsucceedĒ with them).
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Old 09-06-2009, 08:03 PM
Senusret I Senusret I is offline
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Originally Posted by changedmylife View Post
One thing I did really like about their sorority was the tradition they had of each chapter member sending a cup and saucer from their china when they married. They had them displayed throughout the room and I thought it was a lovely tradition.

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Old 09-06-2009, 09:39 PM
changedmylife changedmylife is offline
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Thursday evening was preference at Vermont. I knew from what Katie had told me that it would be more ceremonial and special. There were luminaries outside lining the walk when all of the rushees arrived. We were invited in one at a time. There was a lovely ceremony after dessert and I knew that I could be very happy there. Every time I had been in the house during the week it felt like home. I saw that I could be myself and that there would be opportunities for growth, friendship and leadership for me. It would give me a wonderful home away from home while going to college. I wanted to be a Vermont.

The Vermont member who preferenced me definitely crossed the line, although I did not realize it at the time. Preference for Mackinac was not until the next night and the Vermont active told me that I didnít have to attend the other preference party if I thought I had found my home at Vermont. However, to not follow through and attend Mackinacís preference party was not something I would even consider. But when I left Vermont, I had basically been assured that I would receive a bid (something I didnít know at the time was also wrong). I was so excited about becoming a Vermont as I stood outside listening to the beautiful parting song.

The next evening was preference at Mackinac. Katie preferenced me, showing me her scrapbooks and difference Mackinac items. There was a lovely ceremony, but the entire time I was there I knew in my heart of hearts that if Vermont offered me a bid I would take it. I wanted so much to prefer Katieís sorority after all she had done for me to help me with rush, but my heart was at Vermont the entire time. It was so hard to be at Mackinac and feel that way.

Bids were to go out and the panhel brochure encouraged us to not accept a bid until we received all of them once rush was over. Because preference was held on two different nights, it was feasible that chapters who had their preference the second night could be at a disadvantage.

I was so excited to finally be at the end of the week. I was sure that I would get a bid from both places. I was confident I would get a bid from Katieís house (Mackinac) and the active at Vermont had all but promised me a bid.

Two women from Mackinac came to my home to deliver my bid. (Remember, I lived at home about fifteen minutes from campus). I was thankful to receive it, but I knew that I wanted to be a Vermont. I waited all day. No one came with a bid from Vermont.
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Old 09-07-2009, 10:33 PM
changedmylife changedmylife is offline
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I was absolutely devastated. I was confused. I knew I could accept the bid from Mackinac and still enjoy sorority life. But that wasnít what I wanted. My heart was not in it. I felt so betrayed by Vermont and didnít understand how those women could have treated me the way they did and say the things they did and then not offer me a bid.

Common sense would have dictated that I call Mackinac and accept my bid. For some reason I didnít. (Personally, I believe it was the restraining hand of God which I have seen time and time again in my life.) The next day I got up, still totally confused and depressed. The doorbell rang mid-morning and when I opened the door I discovered it was the rush chair and another woman from Vermont. With my bid. The two sisters who had come out to deliver it the day before had gotten lost and not delivered it. I will never understand why they couldnít find my house or why someone didnít just call for directions. It had made for one of the most miserable twenty-four hours of my life. But they were here now with my bid and a sincere apology for the mix-up.

I happily accepted my bid from Vermont, the very first sorority I had visited and that had instantly felt like home. In retrospect, I think my sorority fate had been sealed in the first thirty seconds of informal rush. Telling Katie that I was going Vermont instead of Mackinac was very hard, but she was kind and gracious about it. She even brought me a gift of Vermont things after I pledged. We worked together for a few years after that and continued to have a great relationship.

Even though I pledged part way through my sophomore year, I had three and a half years as an active since I took five years to get through school as a result of changing my major. So the girl who lived at home and was not confident enough to go through formal rush by herself ended up serving as chapter president twice, won a top scholarship from her national sorority, was a Greek Week Co-Chair, was university Homecoming Co-Chair, was a finalist for Greek Woman of the Year, and ended up being named one of the 25 Outstanding Seniors of the university. I also had the privilege of attending my sororityís centennial convention, a truly incredible and unforgettable experience. My sorority membership completely changed my college experience and allowed me to grow as a person in ways I could never have imagined.

I told my retro rush story because there are so many campuses where there are solid young women who go through rush who donít have the perfect pedigree, family connections, and Greek knowledge. They may be attractive but not drop dead gorgeous. But if a moderately attractive young woman who lived at home and needed a friend to walk her through informal rush can be successful and enjoy sorority life so much, then I know how much sorority membership has to offer so many other young women in college today.

I also told my story to illustrate the fact that on many, many campuses a woman doesnít have to join a ďtop tierĒ group in order to benefit from sorority membership and be successful both on campus and in the Greek system. Being in a ďlower tierĒ sorority didnít hinder me in any significant way. In fact, I believe it was a great asset for me personally in terms of opportunities for leadership and personal growth. I will not lie. There are times it is very challenging to be in a ďlower tierĒ sorority and on our campus there were three very distinct tiers that were often hostile to each other. But every time I read a story on GreekChat about a woman who decides she would rather not be Greek than be in a ďlower tierĒ sorority, I grieve for her and what she has potentially given up. Being Greek is about so much more than a few years in college, and it is unfortunate that many young women are not able to see beyond the thirty-six or forty-eight months ahead of them to the decades of enjoyment they could have as a sorority member.

In closing, Iím happy to share that I am a member of Tri Delta and in my scrapbook alongside my bid from DDD is also my bid from Katieís chapter of Alpha Xi Delta, a sorority that will always have a special place in my heart because of Katieís friendship and the way she guided me through something that truly changed my life.
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Old 09-07-2009, 10:52 PM
ComradesTrue ComradesTrue is offline
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Great story. Thank you for sharing with us.
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Old 09-07-2009, 11:10 PM
gee_ess gee_ess is offline
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A very good story and well written. You have provided great insight for so many young women! I hope many will read your story and be inspired.

Thanks for posting it!
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Old 09-07-2009, 11:13 PM
FSUZeta FSUZeta is offline
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what a lovely story. thank you for letting us know it.
I live in Fantasyland and I have waterfront property.
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Old 09-08-2009, 12:06 AM
AnchorAlumna AnchorAlumna is offline
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Great post! And so true.
I'm always amazed at how those tiers matter so little at the alumnae stage.
Thank you for posting!

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Old 09-08-2009, 04:37 AM
pearlbubbles pearlbubbles is offline
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That was a lovely story. I think a big problem with recruitment is that people get caught up in things that will not matter in the long run. I think people are too often blinded by tent talk. And I'm happy that you were able to find a place to grow and thrive.
~*Proud Tri Delta since 2007*~
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