Since the first fraternities appeared on Bloomsburg University’s campus in the late 60s and early 70s, rush has been an important part of the pledging process. It is the beginning of a whole new life for many aspiring brothers and sisters.
Rushing and pledging are almost as old as Greek life itself. The first American society to use the Greek letter system appeared in 1776 at William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. In 1825 students founded the Kappa Alpha Society at Union College in Schenectady, New York. This was the precursor for the American Fraternity system. Eventually the trend spread to other colleges and Greek life was born.
Once colleges had established many fraternities, they needed a simple process through which students could choose the brotherhood best suited for them, and rush slowly developed into the modern structure. Today rush is the process during which fraternities and sororities meet their potential new members for the first time.
Rush is announced at the beginning of each semester with banners hung by the Student Services Center promoting the fraternities and sororities in colorful displays. Sign-ups soon follow and then meetings start up. From sign-ups and bids to the start of pledging, the process takes several weeks.
Men and women interested in joining fraternities or sororities attend social gatherings with each of the 13 fraternities and 14 sororities who are active in the rush process at Bloomsburg. Through these Rush gathers, potential pledges try to determine with whom they really belong. The Office of Greek Life encourages all pledges to partake in rush because it makes the decision where to pledge easier.
Kayla Switzer, a second-semester freshmen at Bloomsburg found the activities very enjoyable and worth the commitment. Rush sign-ups began at the beginning of the semester, but Switzer did not sign up right away. She wanted to join DEB but Switzer’s friends persuaded her to look at other sororities first. An established sister of DEB encouraged all of them to participate because she enjoyed the experience two years before.
The first meetings with the sororities on February 9th were an interesting experience for Switzer. “It was easy to tell where you fit in right away,” she said. According to Switzer all of the sororities were friendly and easily to relate with, and socializing was the obvious focus of rush.
Throughout rush week, each sorority tries to persuade all the candidates to join by advertising their benefits. The hardest part of rush for many people, including Switzer, is narrowing down their choices because every sorority is unique.
Since rush, Switzer’s social life has benefited ten-fold. “The best part of rush was meeting all the new people, but the free handouts weren’t bad either,” said Switzer. Though a lot happens at rush meetings, they do not take up a lot of time. “I thought rush was time consuming until I started pledging.” Pledging takes most of pledges’ free time away, while rush only has one week of evening meetings, giving the girls the rest of their day to do work and hang out with friends.
Rush week starts with general informational meetings with the sororities. As the week continues, the girls narrow down their top choices to five. Then more in-depth meetings take place and the girls choose their top three. Each sorority gets a list of girls who want to join and decides who to bid on for pledging. When the girls get their bids, they must pick the sorority they most want to pledge to.
Fraternities simply have a series of social events during which boys get to meet the brothers of each individual house and receive bids accordingly. Both fraternities and sororities allow participants to tour the houses of the Greek families they liked in the initial meeting. This can be a major contributor in the decision process; most fraternities and sororities mandate that every member live in the house at least one year.
Rush gives new students the advantage of having background information on the fraternities and sororities, but some feel it is not necessary and skip the it if they feel they already know which one they belong to. However, sometimes these pledges later realize they are not happy with their choice.
Rush also spreads a general knowledge of Greek life, including service projects, dues, and other activities in which fraternities and sororities participate. Rush allows participants to make friends, as well, because the entire event makes it easy to meet new people.
The rush process also benefits fraternities and sororities, as the members have the chance to get acquainted with potential pledges, allowing them to bid on those who best fit into the group.
Most houses have a quota maximum for the number of pledges allowed in every class, so they may not be able to bid on everyone who wants one. Fraternities and sororities try to bid on people who best fit into the social dynamic and creed of the group. Through rush, fraternities and sororities have time to review participants and choose who they most want to pledge from the choices provided.