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chapter 1: sorority recruitment

Note: There are different types of greek organizations (social, business, and interest groups). For the purpose of my story, I am only discussing and/or mentioning social greek organizations. When referring to specific sorority organizations, they will be identified by a flower name and not by official Greek letter, for privacy reasons.

It’s August at the time of me creating this and that means the event of sorority recruitment is in full swing at colleges all over the USA. This process can be especially hectic in the southern United States due to traditions and a lot of sororities’ roots starting in the south. I am grateful for my university being rich in culture and diversity, but smaller and more personable for students/professors. It gave way to a unique Rush experience from others living in the south. Sorority recruitment (for me) was the week before the Fall semester of classes began!

Day 1 : Greek 101

After registering online and paying a small fee, I was able to attend Greek 101. The first day was an informational session filled with slideshow examples about the process of Recruitment, what to expect, the dress code for the following days, as well as how things would be organized. We were informed that at the end of each daily round of visits, we’d individually vote on which sorority we liked best; greatest to least. These voting ballets would ultimately decide if we were invited back the following days.

All of the attendees were separated into groups with one Rho Gamma (RG) or Recruitment Guide. My guide was named Hillary. She made the process so fun and was easy to talk to. The Rho Gammas were girls who had disaffiliated from their chapter in order to guide potential new members (PNMs). We knew they were in one of the three sororities on campus, but it was a secret of which one.

We had a chance to play ice breaker games to get to know the other girls in our group who were going through recruitment with us. Even though I am a shy and quiet person, I make friends easily. I was only anxious because of the new experience, but above all excited! Everyone seemed nice with various ranges of majors. Naturally, I was the only Art/Graphic Design major in the group! After Greek 101 I went back to my dorm and prepared my outfits for the following days. Most of my attire were Summer dresses and sandals; things I’d wear to church or Bible Study. I like to be modest but fashionable too. I knew my most memorable feature would be my skills with makeup. I’ve always gotten compliments on it, even when I was first learning how to apply it. The bright colors and technique always caught peoples attention. So, I relied on that to be my statement piece.

Day 2: Philanthropy

Our university does not have sorority or fraternity houses, so each group had their designated conference rooms for PNMs to visit. These rooms were located in the campuses main buildings so walking was minimal and comfortable. When we weren’t visiting a sorority, we mostly chilled as a group in the Student Union until our turn was next. We would chat about Greek Life, where we came from and our former high school experiences.

Philanthropy Day is our first round of visits with each sorority. This day was relatively casual with shorts and t-shirts being allowed.

The Carnation Sorority

My first visit was to the Carnation Sorority. Even before I started recruitment, I felt in my heart I wanted to be a Carnation! All the research I’d done the Summer before put the Carnation sorority on the front lines of diversity and inclusion; something that will always be a big deal to a black girl. I scoured through numerous photos of each sorority and the Lioness sorority always seemed to have a variety of girls with no one “look” of beauty. So I was smitten from the jump.

I learned about their philanthropy, which was close to my heart being a kid who relied on the Ronald McDonald house during my closed heart surgery at age 1. I loved that their mission was to help children in medical need. I got to converse with many girls, both individually and in small groups; walking around the room viewing trophies and accomplishments by the chapter. I learned quickly that scholarship was a strong pillar for them, with many sisters proudly holding 4.0 GPAs. I felt a little pressure there, as my finish from high school wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped; leaving with a 2.8 GPA due to lots of sickness and missed school. Nevertheless, I remained hopeful that I’d get an invite back to learn more about this sorority.

The Rose Sorority

I had no preconceived notions about the Roses; which is always a good thing to keep an open mind during recruitment. I set myself up to be completely amazed and blown away! Every group always puts their best foot forward for presentation, but the Rose sorority, by far, was most memorable. As I walked in, there were cute little baby turtles in water dishes at each table. (I later found out, this was the sorority mascot). Every girl I talked to reminded me of a different version of myself; even a few girls there shared the same major as I did..which seemed rare when meeting new people on campus. All the girls were sweet, down to earth and relatable.

The philanthropy the Roses supported, too were in support of children with a medical need. They also supported the deaf community which was something I rarely heard philanthropical endeavors for. I have a cousin who is deaf and uses a form of sign language to communicate along with lip reading. This peaked my interest a lot and something that stuck in my memory days later.

The Roses quickly became a favorite of mine. I liked how easy it was to talk with them and I didn’t feel like I had to rattle off a lot of accomplishments to try and impress them. They genuinely wanted to get to know me and my interests outside of school. I wanted to get to know them more and I kept my fingers crossed for an invite back.

The Violet Sorority

I couldn’t see myself being a Violet girl…at all! It’s sad I had my own perceived notions of them prior to getting to know them, but I felt my suspicion was confirmed after spending time with them. Everything seemed very rushed and overwhelming when visiting this sorority. This group touted the status of being the largest sorority on campus. For some, this may be cool but I had my doubts. I also heard that this group goes out of their way to recruit minority women, to uphold a quota and make them look wholesome. *barf* I really hoped what I had heard wasn’t true…

At all times there were at least 4-5 girls crowded around me talking at once. There were many awkward pauses and them just staring silently at me. It made me feel quite uneasy and not sure what to do. I found myself answering the same questions repeatedly, as girls would leave from me and another would come into the small group. Despite what I’d heard about them, I did want to give them a chance but it was all negative impressions that stuck out to me.

I was actually hoping I wouldn’t have to endure another visit there…

Pref Card

At the end of the night our recruitment group sat together with a small piece of card stock paper. It was time to rank our sorority visits; which would determine tomorrow. We were told if we didn’t get a phone call, that we were invited back..but if we did get a phone call, that means you weren’t invited back to continue recruitment. (Sad!) My rankings were:

  • The Carnation Sorority

  • The Rose Sorority

  • The Violet Sorority

Day 3: Sisterhood

I hadn’t received any mysterious calls of doom, so I was happy to be going back for more recruitment shenanigans. Day three was labeled Sisterhood Day. Any “parties” I went back to this day, would focus on the sisterhood aspect of the sorority.

When I arrived and picked up my invitation card, my heart sank.

The Carnation Sorority did not invite me back. I tried my best to hide my disappointment while several others showed theirs openly. I tried to keep positive, knowing that I still had at least one option left that I’d be interested in. I looked forward to the day nonetheless. This day was somewhat of a blur and nothing in particular stands out in my memory. Both the Roses and the Violets shared beautiful photos with everyone and talked about the sisterhood activities they do together. This, of course was a high priority on my list and the main reason for wanting to join Greek Life in the first place. Imagine, going off to a new school with an instant group of 100+ friends. Someone to call when you have good news to share or need to vent. Someone to cheer on in their accomplishments as they support you as well…so many relationship aspects that I wanted that I never really had in high school.

Both sororities seemed like they could offer me this, but my heart was set on The Rose Sorority at this point.

Pref Card

  • The Rose Sorority

  • The Violet Sorority

Day 4: Preference Night

I finally made it to the end of Sorority Recruitment..yay! I didn’t receive any call back, so this means I was still in the running for finding my sorority home.

Preference Night is the most serious and fanciest dress of them all. This night you learn what the sorority truly means to the girls, while partaking in an intimate formal ceremony; a part of their sacred ritual. I so desperately wanted to know what The Rose Sorority’s preference night would be like.

Upon receiving my invitation card for the night, my jaw dropped…I was only invited back to The Violet Sorority. How could this have happened?! My least favorite group and I was *stuck* with only them as an option. This was my raw thought process, of course. (Now, I would have given my past self some advice..but let’s move on..)

Despite being so hurt over this, I still was interested in visiting the Violet Sorority for their special ceremony. I got to speak with the kindest of souls. I honestly wished I’d met her on Day 1 and my perception of this sorority may have been completely changed. Later, I sat in a small intimate circle with dimmed lights and violet and white draped curtains all around. The girls voices rose like angels as they sang. One girl shared her heartfelt story of how she came to be a Violet and how much her sister’s support meant to her.

I cried like a baby!! It was just so touching. The Violet girls passed me tissues and gave me hugs. I don’t know what came over me, but what she shared truly was the sorority experience I wanted to have for myself.

Pref Card

Despite being cut from my top favorites, I still ranked them. I doubted they’d have any effect on the outcome, but just incase..

  • The Carnation Sorority

  • The Rose Sorority

  • The Violet Sorority

The general word amongst the PNMs and the Rho Gammas was that if you were invited to a Preference ceremony, then that group was very likely to extend an invitation to join their sorority.

Day 5: Bid Day

No calls the night before so I knew 100% that I had been extended a sorority invitation. Some mustard seed of hope lingered in me that it would be The Carnations or The Roses by some flux or sheer luck. We were told that the mutual selection process for being matched into a sorority was complex and used a computer system to sort everyone. I wasn’t sure how that went but…

I got invited to The Violet Sorority. I had a big decision to make and I didn’t make it lightly…

It was a flurry of emotions after that. I got called into the Office of Student Affairs to speak with the man overseeing Greek Life (and other Student organizations). He was a black man, so I am sure he understood my reasonings after explaining how I felt. He did try everything in his power to convince me to give them a try, I was not obligated to completely pledge in, but I could give it a few weeks interacting and see how the experience goes. Ultimately, I had made up my mind. I was informed I had to wait one full calendar year before I could attempt Sorority Recruitment again.

I turned down my sorority Bid.

not just for four years; it's for life...
or is it?

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