Rushing Season is fastly approaching, but with Covid-19 exhausting its stay, this year’s process will surely be different. Formal rushing is characterized by days on end of social interactions. Furthermore, Penn State requires potential new members to rush each of its 29 sororities in the beginning of the spring semester. This makes for a long process with no shortage of human contact. So naturally, this year the process will have to be completely reinvented in accordance with virus precautions.
The typical formal recruitment consists of large groups of PNMs-potential new members- being assigned different sororities to rush every day for about two weeks. Rushing consists of interviews between PNMs and various sorority members in the allotted time frames. The different groups of girls rush an array of different sororities every day while they progressively get dropped until eventually by “Bid Day”, they have only two left.
Fraternities at Penn State have “Zone Days”. These are days that fraternities have open houses for potential new members where they can converse with the brothers and tour the house. Potential new members then gradually begin to get formally invited back to the house until finally they get invited to the fraternity’s formal rush dinner. Then they can be extended a bid that they have two days to either accept or decline. This process is more informal than sorority rush but just as communal.
By 2020 standards, the rushing process sounds unimaginable. Colleges across the country are transforming formal rush into a mostly virtual event. Sororities and fraternities are becoming increasingly limited in the extent to which they can pitch social activities to potential new members. Groups that struggle to make meaningful experiences for members beyond the parties are struggling. Virtual rush is merely the start to an experience anticipated to remain remote for quite some time.
Some members of greek life insist that the pandemic is all the more reason to join. Ashlee Dunn, chapter president of Alpha Omicron Pi, a women’s fraternity at Middle Tennessee State University says now is the most important time.
In an interview with NPR Ashley said “A sisterhood is going to keep you in check and keep you motivated,” Dunn says. “You can text your sister or have a FaceTime. It’s the little things that are going to keep you going during such separation.
As for Penn State, sororities were informed that the first round of rush this year will consist of pre-recorded videos sent in by potential new members. What the first round video will consist of has not yet been announced. After the first round, potential new members will meet with sorority members in break rooms via zoom.
Similarly, fraternity rushing will also be remote as well. Due to the laws put in place in State College, fraternity houses can not have more than ten people who do not live in the house inside at once. This will completely change formal rush.
The Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house was shut down this year because of this rule and potential liability issues. Miles Johnson, the diversity chairman in the fraternity says he is not worried about virtual rush.
“After so much time in remote learning, I think we have mastered getting comfortable and communicating behind a screen as best that we can. It’s definitely not an ideal situation, but I trust that meaningful connections can still be made.”
As with almost anything that has to do with the pandemic, the new rushing standard is unprecedented. As for now, potential new members can expect to experience formal recruitment from behind their laptop screens.