Though Ryan Lash ’12 was not surprised to find herself pledging all in white as prescribed by the bid card inviting her to join Kappa Alpha Theta, she found herself unsure about the sisterhood she was about to join.
“At first I wasn’t so sure about it, but once I started to make friends and get to know my pledge class I liked it,” Lash said. “I like the social aspect.”
Lash, a freshman at the University of Michigan, said at first she felt unclear as to whether or not she would fit in. After doing activities like tie-dying and cookie decorating with her sisters, Lash said she has made great friends.
Autumn Chiklis ’12, unlike Lash, was unsure about whether or not to rush as a freshman at the University of Southern California.
“There are a lot of pretty confusing notions about what Greek life is,” Chiklis said. “There’s definitely a stigma.”
Though she ended up joining Kappa Kappa Gamma, Chiklis acknowledged the cons to Greek life at USC. The time commitment is huge as is the financial expense and, Chiklis said, some sororities charge fees for missing certain social functions.
Now that she has found what she calls the “perfect balance“ of academic and social commitments, Chiklis said that despite steryotypes, she loves Greek life at USC.
Annie Wasserman ’13 only recently began to consider joining a sorority at the University of Pennsylvania, where she will attend college in the fall.
“When I was initially applying to colleges, Greek life was not on my mind,” Wasserman said. “I didn’t want to go to a school where a huge number of students were involved.”
Only since talking to a friend who is a senior in the Huntsman Program which Wasserman will join, has she changed her mind. Students in the 40-person business and international relations program live together a little bit away from the center of campus.
“My friend said in freshman year the [Huntsman] community is so tight that sororities or other groups like Penn Hillel would help you not feel so limited,” Wasserman said.
She said she wants to meet people with diverse majors, not just the kids with whom she will study business and international relations.
Another freshman at USC, Amanda Allen ’12, said that almost everyone she has met is in a sorority or a fraternity.
Though she joined Delta Gamma, the same sorority her mother pledged, she said she went into rush with an open mind about where she would end up.
“I looked for the house where I thought I would best fit in and find my best friends for the next four years,” Allen said.
Sorority involvement varies from school to school. According to U.S. News, there are 100 colleges and universities in which at least 25 percent of female students are in sororities, including Welch College in Tennessee where 98% of women at the school pledge.
Sarah Shelby ’13 is still waiting to hear on college acceptances but is already considering joining a sorority.
Her mother was Kappa Alpha Theta at University of California, Los Angeles and extols sororities saying one will give Sarah an “instant friend group.”
“She loved it so much and has influenced me to consider joining a sorority because it was such a big part of her experience,” Shelby said.
She admits that popular-culture depictions of sororities scare her a little.
“I’m worried that I’ll rush for the wrong house,” Shelby said. “I will definitely rush for Theta because my mom and I are pretty similar so the girls in that sorority will probably appreciate my personality.”
Hazing as a part of the rushing and pledging is prohibited by the National Panhellenic Conference, according to the sororitylife.com.
“Each of the 26 member groups have banned hazing in all of their chapters and have policies in place stating so,” the website said.
University of Boston, however, suspended the Sigma Delta Tau sorority in March of 2012 after a hazing incident.
Boston University freshman Olivia Schiavelli ‘12 said that the school is very strict about any Greek rituals that could be deemed hazing.
“We’re not even allowed to be called pledges,” Schiavelli said. “We’re called new members.”
Though she said Greek life is not a main part of student life, Schiavelli rushed because she wants a traditional college experience.
“Rush was really stressful,” Schiavelli said. “I’ve never seen so many tears in one room.”
Though the series of parties, rankings and rejections was emotionally taxing, Schiavelli said that she made a lot of friends in the process.
“It’s a lot of girl flirting,” Schiavelli said.
Lash also found rush stressful because at Michigan it began after just three days of classes and spanned the whole month of September.
After tours of all 15 sororities, four rounds of ranking, interviews and preference parties, Lash got her bid to the Eta chapter and could become a Theta.
“Once we got to talking it was easier to tell we could all be friends. I really like the girls,” Lash said.