An open letter to rushing freshmen
Spring has sprung at Duke, to the usual consequences. You’ve surely realized how big of an uninvolved, oversexed idiot you were first semester, made a resolution to stop going out so much and start signing up for extracurriculars—by February deciding your Shooters VIP Club membership is just as impressive as any other resume stuffer. Spring means a campus filled with newly stateside juniors and second-semester seniors who are simultaneously nostalgic and panicking. And, perhaps most obnoxiously, it means the beginning of rush.
For freshmen, rush can be difficult to talk about. As people start getting (and not getting) bids, the topic can seem almost offensive. For “potential new members” of Panhellenic sororities, this problem is exacerbated, as during rush, we sorority folk aren’t allowed to speak to you. This is, of course, barring rush itself, and the late-night, slyly worded descriptions of other sororities as “The sorority I would have chosen if I hadn’t chosen MINE” or “Nice, but kind of weird/lame/social-climby/unsanitary” or “I guess they’d be fun if you like human sacrifice.” Although my knowledge is largely limited to Panhellenic recruitment, I can’t imagine for freshMEN that it’s any better. IFC rush seems like all the same schmoozing but with a lot more boozing. And SLG rush is especially confusing, since SLGs probably haven’t been on a gossip website all semester. How are you supposed to know who’s hot and who’s not?!
But don’t fret, freshies. Despite all the terrible things you may have heard, you can actually enjoy recruitment. In fact, I’ve always loved rush—and not just boy’s rush, which, for girls, is a time of free alcohol and no f---s given. So, for those feeling lost in this game, I’ve forgone my usual pointless column to compile a list of actual advice on how you, too, can rush like Limbaugh.
1. Ditch expectations.
It’s inevitable that every freshman friend group will have that one kid who “knows” everything about rush before it even begins. They’ve memorized the “hierarchy” and know which parties are “worth it.” They speak Greek better than your average classical studies major and know everything about every group on campus—because the internet, duh.
Well, I’m sorry: All that information is useless. I’ve yet to find a selective group that actually fits its alleged reputation. It’s human nature to group things and assign them arbitrary characteristics, but if you go into rush thinking that a certain group is a certain way, it could stop you from really getting to know those people. The only time you should pre-judge people based on the internet is in online dating, because that’s for self-preservation. You don’t want to end up out with someone who dabbles in making human centipedes, so by all means, judge away.
2. Rush is a resource.
When else are you going to have an endless pool of upperclassmen that are obligated to talk to you? Exploit them for your personal gain! Find out fun classes they took, where they went abroad, what clubs they’re in and if they know any gypsy magic. If you get nothing else out of rush, at least you’ll become more college savvy (and potentially have the power to control animals’ minds).
3. Be true to you.
In my opinion, the best way to guarantee your happiness in any group is to know you. It’s easy to get confused about your wants and opinions when every friend, rushee, selective group member and internet commentator has something to say. Be honest with yourself about what you want and where you feel you fit. There is no universally correct answer to rush. It’s about what’s right for you.
4. Talk about whatever the hell you want.
I know there are rules about what you should talk about during rush—or, for girls, what you shouldn’t talk about. No boys, booze, bank accounts, Bibles, boob jobs, Bavarians, Beatlemania, bears, beets or Battlestar Galactica. Yet all these rules can lead to uptight and repetitive conversations. The first time I went through rush, I got so bored talking about myself that I decided to make a conscious effort to have the weirdest, most random conversations possible during recruitment from then on.
This was probably the best idea ever conceived while overdosing on M&Ms and girl flirting. Since then, I’ve had an entire conversation in fake Lil Wayne lyrics, discussed how turtles are better than people, made up a secret handshake and planned out amenities for a moon colony. Hell, 30 seconds into a conversation last year, my new friend and I were belting the Dragon Tales theme song. For some reason, she did not join my sorority.
My point is, rush doesn’t have to be boring or superficial. Don’t be afraid to let your real self out, because that’s the only way you’ll know if an organization is ready for your jelly.
It’s unquestionably stressful to go through a process as contrived and inherently judgmental as rush. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, things don’t work out. But freshmen, understand this: Even if you don’t get everything you want out of rush, things will be OK. What you are or aren’t affiliated with doesn’t change who you are or what you’re worth.
Now get to rushin’ freshies. And for God’s sake, let loose! It’s rush, not the Hunger Games. Enjoy it!
Lillie Reed is a Trinity senior. Her column is part of the weekly Socialites feature and runs every other Wednesday. Send Lillie a message on Twitter @LillieReed.