If you’re at all like me, you’re really skeptical about if you will fit in with a sorority. It took me a long time to arrive at the decision to even try, let alone to follow through and pledge a chapter. I spent the summer questioning if I was the sorority girl type. eventually though, I decided it was worth a shot because I didn’t want to regret not even putting myself out there. Then started sorority recruitment at the University of Oregon (Yes, it’s technically called “Recruitment” at UO, not “Rush Week”), and my fear escalated even more.
The process is so fast and repetative that by the end of the first round I wondered how it could possibly work. I mean, 3-5 houses in one night and just 25 minutes at each house, how can you possibly decide which house is exactly right for you? Not to mention, how can that house determine if you’re exactly right for them? Because truth is, it’s just as much about you picking them as it is about them picking you. It may seem completely random and trivial at times, but, according to me at least, it does work. So here’s what it’s like to go through recruitment at the University of Oregon.
1. Upon submitting your application, you are placed in a group with others who registered near the same time as you.
At recruitment orientation you will learn the structure of what your week will look like, as well as things like what to wear for each day and what is and is not allowed while you’re in the houses, and then break into the groups where you will also meet your Rho Gammas. These are women who are members of a chapter but have disaffiliated with their chapter to help you through recruitment. The houses that they are members of is confidential, and you are not supposed to know until they reveal it on Bid Day. This is in an effort to allow them to help you through an unbiased experience. Your Rho Gammas will travel with you to each of the houses for the first few rounds and get your group lined up in order outside.
They are also there to give you any advice or help you through the decision-making process should you need someone to talk to. They also often have mints or hand sanitizer for you before you go into the houses because it does take place during the first week of classes and freshman often get sick during the first quarter, especially women who rush.
2. The first round is called Leadership Days and takes place across three days.
In those three days you will visit 3-5 houses (called house parties) each night spending 25 minutes at each house. First, you will line up in alphabetic order outside the front door, and the Rho Gammas will take attendance twice at each house. You are not allowed to bring anything into the houses so you will leave jackets or purses outside. If you are not present for the second roll call, which occurs one minute before that party starts, you will not be allowed to participate in that party. This often means that you will not be returning to that house in the following rounds since you missed meeting them. Missing roll call shouldn’t be a problem until the later rounds since you move with your group the entire night on Leadership Days.
Once the party starts, the chapter president and often either the vice president or head of recruitment will step out and introduce themselves. Then your group will file into the house, one-by-one, and each of you will be paired with a member to talk to first. Forewarning: It gets VERY loud in the houses and you’re going to have to speak up. This is another reason why getting sick and losing your voice is a huge problem. You will talk to one woman for a few minutes while she tries to get to know you a little and you get to know her and her chapter a little as well before another woman will come and switch off with who you’ve been talking to. At most houses you will talk to three women (some houses choose to do two or four, but most stick with three) in an effort for more women to get to know you and for you to get a fuller feel of the chapter. When your time is up, the member will walk you out and you can grab your things and head to the next house.
3. Leadership Days repeats for three nights, but at the end of the third night you will rank your top eight houses.
UO currently have 11 housed chapter and one local chapter that you will meet but that doesn’t participate in formal recruitment (Although we are currently voting on adding another chapter that also wouldn’t participate in formal recruitment but you’d be able to join if you didn’t pledge a house during recruitment). Once you submit your rankings, the Panhellenic Council will build your schedule for the next round based on the houses you liked and the houses that liked you. You may not get called back to all eight of your top choices, in fact, you probably won’t. I didn’t, but I later realized it was for the best.
4. The next round is Philanthropy Day. In this round you’ll learn about- you guessed it- their philanthropy!
One of the commitments of fraternity and sorority life at UO is philanthropy, and each house has their own organization they work with. Should you choose a house, you too will be responsible for helping with the event they throw to raise money, so this day can be a big one. Your Rho Gammas will give you your personal schedule for the day when you meet in the morning. You will be able to go to as many as eight houses that day, but don’t be upset if you don’t have eight on your schedule. This means that not all the houses you liked called you back, but that’s okay. I only had five call me back yet it all worked out for me. If anything, it gives you an easier day because you’ll have more breaks. Those who have eight house parties to go to have a very busy day ahead of them.
You will have a map of where the houses are in your booklet, but you need to be relatively familiar with the area because you’re on your own starting now. This is when it becomes imperative that you make it to the houses on time because you may go to several back to back (and they may not be close). Whatever you do, be early. Since it’s your custom schedule, the group you’ll line up in outside will be all new, so you’ll have to find your place alphabetically. The Rho Gammas will again take roll twice before each party, so they can help your find your place too. Again, you will talk to several women at each house, and again, at the end of the night you will rank. This time you will list your top five chapters.
5. The next round is Sisterhood Day.
I think I was most excited for this day because this is when you get tours of the houses. Each of the houses are so unique and beautiful in their own way I was thrilled I’d get to see it all. On this day, you may visit a maximum of five houses. Again, don’t be discouraged if you have less than five on your schedule. I had three. You should think about refining your impressions this day because the next night is the big one. You rank again at the end of the day, this time picking your top two.
6. Preference Night is the round that your last two houses pull out all the stops to impress you and to be sure if they want you to become one of them or not.
There’s usually some singing and pretty ceremonies about their values. It gets harder after Pref Night because both houses are in full-on woo mode. From your last house party, you know the drill, you go rank your first and second choices. This is the most important night because it is from this order than you will receive a bid. If your top choice wants to offer you a bid, then that’s it. If they do not, then you may receive a bid from your second choice if they wanted you to join them. It all comes down to…
7. Bid Day.
There’s a lot of people, and be sure to wear shoes you can run in. Each of the chapters will fill the outer ring of the EMU amphitheater (the concrete bowl-type thing outside the EMU) with decorations and spirit. They go all out to make this a special day. All of you girls going through recruitment will fill the lower part and not-so-patiently await the envelopes. This is when the Rho Gammas will reveal which chapter they belong to before they pass out the bids. On the count of three, everyone opens and sprints to their new house. It’s chaos and pure excitement.
Each chapter’s festivities are different, but you will most likely receive your first shirt for your chapter and dance and celebrate for hours. This is also the night that they take chapter photos. You may not know many people yet but you will. For now, it’s time to celebrate gaining hundreds of sister and becoming a part of an organization that will expect quite a lot of you, including being the best version of yourself, especially when you wear your letters. Relax, breathe, and celebrate. Recruitment is finally over and you have a new home.