Running of the Bulls: The psychology of sorority rushing

Benjamin Brown

Statistics --162 registered for recruitment --142 began the 1st Round – Open House --134 began 3rd Round – 2nd Invitational Event – all 8 withdrew from the process and were not released by a sorority --124 began 4th Round – 3rd and last Invitation Event – Nine out of Ten were released by sororities and the 10th withdrew --122 participated in bid matching. 120 were matched with a sorority. 118/120 were matched with their 1st choice.
Statistics
–162 registered for recruitment
–142 began the 1st Round – Open House
–134 began 3rd Round – 2nd Invitational Event – all 8 withdrew from the process and were not released by a sorority
–124 began 4th Round – 3rd and last Invitation Event – Nine out of Ten were released by sororities and the 10th withdrew
–122 participated in bid matching. 120 were matched with a sorority. 118/120 were matched with their 1st choice.

The sorority recruitment process can be exciting and anxiety inducing; and has the potential to be rewarding or disappointing for women across the country.

Lafayette women are not immune to the psychological effects of sorority recruitment.

“The vast majority of people will experience a variety of emotions,” Advisor to Fraternities and Sororities Dan Ayala said.

Julie Martin ‘12, former Lafayette valedictorian and now a graduate student at Duke University, is trying to fund a project to study rejection and psychological well-being in sorority recruitment at a southern university.

“I was inspired to study belonging as a career after observing the effects of sorority rejection and acceptance at Lafayette,” Martin said. “I was fascinated by how strongly the need to belong influenced students’ thought, feelings and behaviors on a daily basis.”

For the most recent fall recruitment, 162 women registered with 120 being matched with a sorority. Experiences throughout the process vary.

Alexa Gatti ‘16 was offered and accepted a bid from the Delta Delta Delta sorority. “I went into it with a laid back attitude, thinking that, ‘You know, I am going to end up in the right place. I am not going to stress out trying to get into a specific sorority.’” Gatti mentioned that she was admittedly “freaking out towards the end.”

“I wasn’t sure if I had found the right group of girls or if I was going to be happy doing it, but I ended up doing it, and I chose Tri Delta. I couldn’t be happier,” Gatti said. Consulting with her Membership Recruitment Assistant (MRA) helped Gatti realize that she wanted to go through with the process. Expert advice, Martin points out, is often heavily relied upon.

Danielle Fontaine ‘14 went through recruitment in the fall of her sophomore and junior years, ultimately accepting a bid to the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority her second time through.

“I really just wanted to meet more people, do more things, get really involved on campus, so I decided to do it,” Fontaine said of her decision to undergo the experience again. Fontaine’s familiarity with the process made it easier, as well as the opportunity to explore sororities on her own.

“I think it was easier without my friends because I didn’t really talk to anyone about what houses they were going to and it was a lot less stressful,” Fontaine said.

Though companionship in the sorority recruitment process could provide for a degree of social support, it can have adverse effects too.

“One of the aspects of recruitment that can contribute to women’s distress is the opportunity to engage in constant social comparison,” Martin said. “According to social comparison theory, people evaluate their own abilities and status by comparing themselves to others. For women who are receiving a lot of acceptances during rush, this social comparison can increase their self-esteem. But for women who experience a lot of rejections, this social comparison can really lower their opinions of themselves,” she continued.

Another prospective sorority member, who wished to remain anonymous, did not receive a bid. Though disappointed by not being offered a spot, it did not cause prolonged emotional distress.

“I wasn’t the happiest about it, but I bounced back,” she said. The prospective sorority member described herself as “involved” on campus with other commitments.

Through her research, Martin has found that people are “resilient.”

“We adapt to the situations we are placed in and move on,” she said. “So it is my guess — though we need more research on this — that most women who experience rejection during recruitment ultimately recover.”

According to the anonymous prospective sorority member, girls have left Lafayette due to unfavorable experiences in the sorority process. And Martin says this is not terribly uncommon.

“Rejection during sorority recruitment can be difficult to cope with because Greek Life does not simply go away after a negative recruitment experience,” Martin said. This is especially true on small campuses where Greek Life has a big presence. Seeing Greek Life banners, t-shirts, people and events all around campus can serve as a constant reminder to the woman that she “doesn’t fit in.”

“If I could give one piece of advice to women who are struggling with a negative recruitment experience, it would be this: do not blame yourself. While it is often important to reflect critically on yourself following a rejection, this is not one of those times. So give yourself a break, remind yourself that it’s not your fault, and focus on your relationships with people who value you.”

 

To view Martin’s project, go here: https://www.microryza.com/projects/rejection-and-well-being-in-the-context-of-sorority-recruitment