My daughter is at Cedar Creek Lake for a few days. She and her girlfriends wanted a little R & R before they scatter like roaches for various colleges. The picture above was taken at that same lake in May after senior prom.
The first thing most of them will undertake, once they get moved to their respective campuses, is sorority rush. When I was a freshman at Texas A&M in the mid-70's, sororities and fraternities were just getting started. There were no chapter houses and the whole "Greek Thing" was viewed with enormous distrust by the university administration and the vast majority of the student body. University officials didn't like a system whose membership was based on social standing, legacies and Daddy's money. The student body, with the Corps of Cadets being the most vocal, said the only fraternity that mattered was the Aggie Fraternity. Despite the negativity, I went through rush because both of my parents were Greeks in their college days (Sigma Kappa and Pi Kappa Alpha), and they thought I should have the experience. I had other plans, however, and dropped out before bid day. For 35 years I never regretted, not once, not being a sorority member. Then it all changed when my daughter started preparing for her own rush, and it occurred to me that my lack of sorority experience could be problematic for her. Not because I think she will have trouble getting in -- quite the opposite, in fact -- but simply because for the first time in her life, I had no answers to her questions and no advice to offer.
In February, the local area Panhellenic hosted a conference at the University of Texas at Dallas. While there I learned only one thing: I have no freaking idea what is going on. They tossed acronyms around like rice at a wedding -- RIF, PNM, ARC, MIF, LOS -- and warned us that if we didn't keep to the deadlines (notice the plural), our daughters' chances of getting bids would be less than zero. Even the moms who, unlike me, had been smart and pledged Chi Omega or Kappa Kappa Gamma in their day, looked nervous. That made me feel the teensiest bit better, but only just.
So I did what any mom concerned for her child's happiness and social standing would do: I went home, had a stiff drink, and put all our sorority notes and papers away in a corner in the dim hope that somehow, someway, the problem would magically resolve itself, and I could say RIP to the RIFs, whatever they were.
Of course, that didn't happen. Just like the time, when I was eight or so, I thought I could avoid punishment by secretly burying a broken porcelain bird in the trash. Reluctantly, we sat down one day, Paige and I, read and re-read every scrap of paper we had and, voila! it still made no sense. With the clock ticking, sure Paige was going to spend four years at Texas Tech a social outcast, I turned to help from friends who had older daughters. We robotically did what we were told, often having no idea just why we were doing what we were doing, but trusting in their knowledge and sheer blind luck. Slowly, it started to come together and one night, the light dawned. Funny how simple things are once you understand them.
To say that rush (they call it recruitment these days) has changed since I was in college is putting it mildly. Rush is an enormous undertaking for girls, requiring dozens of recruitment packets with three different photos, resume, high school transcript, cover letters, and SASE envelopes. Then there's the registration with the campus Panhellenic and mailing more photos and more paperwork. By contrast, boys who are interested in pledging a fraternity do none of these things. I suspect recruitment for boys involves a gigantic inter-fraternity keg party and bids go to all those who are still standing upright at midnight. I really wouldn't know because neither of my boys cared a hoot for the frat life, but this is how I picture it.
When Paige mentioned the other day that she was getting nervous about how she would be accepted during the rush process, I discovered I did have some advice to give after all: just be yourself.
Get notified of new content! Enter your email address in the space below to get started...