Furman’s delayed rush process, while perhaps less “intense” than similar activities at larger universities, is nevertheless arduous for all involved. For PNMs (Potential New Members, aka girls looking to pledge a sorority) the three-day stretch is nothing but a cyclical state of contemplation regarding past connections, current conversations, and, let’s be honest, tomorrow’s clothes. Nothing says “Welcome Back To Campus!” more than a 72-hour stretch of Greek Life Survivor, with each PNM trying to out-wit and out-play her way into her desired group (in all candor, rush is much less cutthroat than that metaphor, but I liked the effect).
Similarly susceptible to the woes of rush are current sorority members. Although they are separated by cool looking letters, matching outfits, and an air of prestige/“in-ness,” current Greek Lifers also feel pressure to perform in rounds; to adequately swoon fellow conversationalists, appear enticing yet not desperate, and represent yourself and the sorority without, you know, revealing too much about either. For simplicity’s sake, let’s call this mishmash of potential and current sorority members the “players,” or those directly involved in Furman recruitment.
Then we have, to continue the analogy, the “spectators.” These are the people who, while not partaking in recruitment themselves, are somehow affected by its result. Frankly speaking, it seems like pretty much everyone who knows anybody involved in recruitment becomes a spectator, regardless of their proximity to, or investment in, the process. Moms, dads, siblings, best friends from Furman, best friends from home, roommates — you get the gist. The ubiquity of the spectator label is due to the fact that, whether it be by way of a stress-filled text message after round one or an exalted phone call on bid day, everyone experiences some part of the rush process via their direct connection to it. But while moms and second cousins might have some stake in the result, I would argue that it is the Furman friends who have chosen to abstain from rush who are actually most impacted by the process itself — but I would also argue they shouldn’t be.
Of the spectators, non-rushing Furman students are undoubtedly closest too, and thus most invested in, the rush process itself. They know the girls going through rounds and are aware of sororities and the clout they hold on campus. Yet perhaps most importantly, they watch the entire week unfold via social media, which, given said medium’s manipulated and dishonest slant, instills rush abstainers with a picturesque, cuddly, and truthfully inaccurate idea of the process. And while these girls surely have some aversion to Greek Life given their decision not to partake in recruitment, anyone can imagine the feelings of self-doubt or exclusion that might creep in after seeing photo upon photo of bid day or after hearing friends rant and rave over their newfound sisters.
And it is exactly right now, in these first few weeks of school, when rush-related feelings of isolation or “FOMO” manifest most pointedly; which is also why it seems like the necessary time to issue a reminder that many upperclassmen have learned in due time, but freshmen might be unaware of…this will fade. I want to be clear — I am not dismissing the excitement of being a new member, nor am I saying new members should not be excited about their newly found social groups. As a Greek Like member myself, I proudly admit to walking on clouds for weeks after bid day, and I hope PNMs are feeling similar sentiments of elation and euphoria. But speaking from experience, in due time people will forget exactly which sorority everyone pledged, the stigmas and drama of rush will fade, and life will go back to normal. Non-sorority girls will remain friends with Greek Lifers — they will get invited to plenty of functions, still enjoy a thriving social life, and find plenty of events to attend that do not involve matching shirts or pins. While rush and recruitment might seem like the end-all be-all right now, I promise it will not remain that way forever.
To the freshmen girls who might be feeling left-out or regretful right now, please know your decision to abstain from rush was not wrong nor misguided — you did what felt right for you and stayed true to your intuition. So if you feel so inclined, believe me when I say this is temporary; while Greek Life at Furman has given me amazing friends and wonderful experiences, so have other organizations. Find what does that for you, and the memories will follow — Greek letters notwithstanding.