The independent news organization of Duke University

We don't need rush. We need therapy.

overcaffeinated convictions

In the spirit of Monday Monday’s most recent column about rush, which reported that the CAPS system crashed due to first-years attempting to schedule appointments with a psychologist, I’ve realized a fundamental truth: we, Duke students, do not need rush; we, Duke students, need therapy. 

You’re probably thinking: Okay, what does this self-righteous first-year know about the population of Duke as a whole? How can she speak for what we need? 

Well, you’re valid in questioning me. But I’ve compiled a few key arguments and expert witnesses to underscore the validity of my message. I’ve listed them below: 

  • You have to pay $50 to participate in Panhel rush, which is already a financial barrier. Plus that’s like, what, 25% of the cost of a therapy session, even if you have insurance? Duke is rich; they can afford the remaining 75%. It would be time well spent. And okay, SLG rush is free, but who freely decides to join a group of sweaty rushees in clustering around an emotionally-drained upperclassmen to discuss one’s favorite superpower? A therapist wouldn’t only ask your favorite superpower; they’d ask why you chose that option, and consequently why you are the way you are. Isn’t that all we want—someone to someone to ask why? 
  • Rush would be pointless if mandatory therapy was instituted. A therapist is financially and legally bound to you. Kind of like a Big, but better. 
  • “I wish someone would ask me about my problems,” Harry Weldermeyer Truman 17th wrote in an email titled “feelings” at 4:05 am.  “My brothers just don’t feel like my brothers anymore. I’ve lost... my sense of self, my purpose, my entire family.” Attached was an image of a half-empty label of Aristocrat Vodka. Long story short, a therapist will listen. Even when you’re sober. 
  • You won’t be hungover in class after a session of therapy. No vomit in your 8:30 am. Just...word vomit. And it’ll feel good.  (Who knew?) 
  • “During rush, I’ll get, like, so many appointment requests that I’ll just throw them all together. Suddenly, I’ll have twenty or thirty girls sitting on my couch, clustered together, bonding over the shared emotional devastation. I don’t have to do anything. They become... sisters. Maybe this process is good for something,” a local therapist from the area, who wishes to remain unnamed, wrote. 
  • The SLG “de-stress” events are stressful. Therapy is not. 
  • Therapists don’t invite you and your friends to lunches and dinners to “get to know you” before they start seeing you, just to make sure you’re, ya know, going to be a dedicated member of their patient community. 
  • Panhel rush breeds conformity to a certain racialized beauty standard: white, blonde, skinny, rich. Therapists, however, do not care about conformity. Even if you dyed your hair pink, even if you haven’t taken a shower in four days due to intense mental exhaustion, even if you elaborately faked your own disappearance to get out of that Calc midterm—they’ll listen. Do whatever you need to cope :).
  • No more stressful who-will-you-ask date-functions. You’ll have an excuse to say no: “Sorry, I’m seeing someone.”
  • Therapists do not thank you for your interest in their work and then proceed to “not invite you” to their next appointment. They would never say, “Rejected patient, I sincerely want to carry on a friendship, even through the awkward moments in passing at the grocery store, when you’re aware I know so much about you, including your favorite superpower.” That would be sooo invalidating. Right? 
  • A therapist does not decide whether or not to keep seeing you based upon superficial qualities. A therapist wants to know their patient. What does that mean, exactly? Well, it means more than a five-to-seven-minute conversation in a fluorescent-lit room. (A ten minute session is long enough, though. These poor therapists have too many Dukies to see.)
  • “Ugh, okay. So, like, I know rush is awful and it destroys people. It destroyed me. But the goal is to minimize impact. The real ethical question is: do we hurt 100 people a moderate amount, say a 5 on the scale out of 10; or do we hurt 10 people a large amount, say a 10 on the scale out of 10?” a dual-SLG-sorority president, who is also in an altruism club on campus, wrote. Therapy also minimizes harm, but hopefully on a less-than-five-out-of-10 scale. 
  • “Ok, we all know that Greek life has its roots in racism, sexism, classism, and heteronormativity. That’s exactly why it’s on campus. Please don’t put that on record,”  former Vice Provost Elmo said in a press release before his retirement. (He must have not realized he was writing a press release. A therapist could help him with this massive inability to grasp reality.) 
  • Also, perhaps with therapy, our US News and World Reports Ranking would even increase due to better mental health outcomes. That’s the end goal, right? 

Finally, being the outwardly self-righteous first-year I am, I want to be clear that I rushed SLGs, and I also rushed sororities for two rounds. Many of my close friends have found meaning, friendships, happiness, and fulfillment in both Greek Life and Selective Living Groups. But the rush process is grueling, draining, and plays into some of the pledge class’ deepest, most long-held insecurities—mine included.  

None of this isolated privileged bullsh*t of rush truly matters—it is a microcosm of a microcosm of the microcosm of life—but we’re not hypocritical in admitting that a lot of it matters now. We are worried as heck about losing ourselves, about losing our friends, about losing our identity. We are afraid that we aren’t good enough. We are terrified of what others think. I sure am. 

But these three weeks of freshman-year spring are only a snapshot of our lives; a blurry photograph taken in passing; a hastily-developed print. What we must understand is that a particular combination of Greek letters does not make us any better, more attractive, more valued than anyone else. Being dropped from our top SLG does not make us any less of a person. The immense, intangible, larger-than-life scope of our being cannot be defined by an arbitrary process. We were lovable, worthy, and important before we rushed; we will always be lovable and worthy and important because these qualities are inherent in who we are. 

 So yeah... let’s abolish the rush process for therapy. 

Lily Levin is a Trinity first year. Her column, “overcaffeinated convictions,” runs on alternate Mondays.


Share and discuss “We don't need rush. We need therapy.” on social media.