Fitting in at MSU often means knowing words like “Shy-Phi” and “D2L”.
But one word—“rush”—the process of joining a sorority or a fraternity, remains a mystery to many students.
“Rushing is when a potential member new member goes through the recruitment process in the hopes of receiving an invitation [bid] to a house,” said senior Alyssa Fritz, President of the Panhellenic Council and member of Alpha Chi Omega sorority.
For aspiring sorority members at Michigan State, rushing begins the first week of September. The process, which follows a system of days with a specific focus, kicks off with two spirit days where those rushing mingled with one another and wear t-shirts to represent the Greek life.
Philanthropy day gives girls the opportunity to learn about each sorority’s respective philanthropy and sometimes even participate. On values day, prospective and current sorority members get to know each other better by sharing their values and beliefs.
For potential Greek life members, it’s all about finding a chapter that fits their personality and hoping the members of that chapter think they fit in, too.
“Recruitment is based on mutual selection – not only must the chapter believe the potential new member (PNM) will be a good fit in their house but the PNM must also find the house conducive to her personality as well,” Fritz said. “Though all houses share similar core values like scholarship, philanthropy, good character, etc., each has a distinct personality that distinguishes them from one other. A PNM may stand out more to one house than she will to another because her personality better complements that of their organization.”
Values day is followed by preference day and bid day, where those rushing write down their top sorority picks and are ultimately chosen or denied by a sorority. Fraternity rushing begins the next week and follows a similar pattern.
Bid Day can be a stressful day for some, but for freshman Emily Walsh, the entire week was an exhilarating experience.
“The recruitment process is exciting because you get to meet so many people through the process,” Walsh said. “I now see so many familiar faces when I’m walking around campus. Although it is a long process, the moment when I opened my bid card and saw that I was member of Pi Beta Phi made it all worth it.
Fritz said she is proud of the work the Panhellenic community has put forth in recruiting new members.
“This was our most successful fall recruitment to date,” Fritz said. “Since 2009 we have had a 100% increase in women registering for fall recruitment while the number of female students enrolled at MSU has not increased that much.”
Fritz went on to say a record 1216 women signed up to participate in fall sorority recruitment, with about 700 accepting bids.
For many sororities and fraternities, the rushing process has come to an end.
“All sororities participate in Formal Recruitment in the fall, which is organized by Panhellenic Council in conjunction with each of the chapters,” Fritz said. “This recruitment is much more structured than that which occurs in the spring. The number of active members each house is permitted to have is regulated to ensure that all have about the same number of women and those numbers are systematically set following fall recruitment.
But for other sororities and fraternities, the process will begin again in the spring.
“After fall recruitment ends, if chapters have not reached campus total then they are eligible to hold COB—or continuous open bidding—events,” said senior Camaryn Self, Vice President of Recruitment Logistics on the Panhellenic Council said. “Similarly, if in the spring semester chapters have not reached campus total, then they can hold COB events as well.”
With Greek recruitment coming to an end, the process of integrating new members into their chapters, once called “pledging”, begins.
“Once recruitment is over and a woman receives a bid from a chapter, then she becomes a new member and begins her new member term,” Self said. “During this term, she attends weekly new member meetings where she learns about the history of the sorority and prepares for initiation of membership into that sorority.”
Although this year’s Greek recruitment process has come to an end, the process will begin anew next year, and the best thing for hopeful members to do turns out to be pretty simple.
“The best advice I have for anyone going through recruitment is to be themselves and have conversations about what they value and what truly matters to them,” Fritz said. “This is the best way for them to figure out which house will be the perfect fit for them.”