This time of year, I can’t help but have sorority recruitment on my mind. I loved recruitment. Today I thought I’d share some of the new material I wrote for my book proposal; this is one of the first essays in the book. There is also a second version that appears in the senior year section, when I had been doing the whole recruitment thing for a few years (and getting frattier and frattier). I’ll share that later; for now, enjoy my take on Bid Day through a pledge’s eyes!
Despite my concerns about not having pearls to wear during the last night of recruitment, I was given a bid. The day after Preference, I suffered through my classes anxiously and then booked it back to my dorm. We had been told that our bids would be distributed between the hours of 4 and 6 PM so I sat in my dorm, waiting for the white envelope that would tell me who my bridesmaids would one day be.
Around 4:30, it came. I was a Sigma Kappa.
I wasn’t excited or disappointed. I had been really torn between Chi Omega and Sigma Kappa, to the point that I was debating the houses by their colors. Sigma Kappa’s lavender and maroon was more flattering than Chi Omega’s cardinal red and straw yellow. But the Chi Os were so pretty. It was so hard to decide.
But they decided for me – I was a Sigma Kappa.
The invite instructed me to get ready for Bid Day, the big party that each house has for their new girls. On Bid Day, campus is loud with the sounds of sorostitutes in season — recruitment season, that is. Everyone hears their cheers as they run through the halls of the dorms to pick up their new members, the horns that blast from their rented limos, and the signature welcome songs that they shout as they wait for their new members on their pretty lawns and porches.
Two houses, Alpha Phi and Kappa Kappa Gamma, actually stand on their lawns and shout antagonistic chants at each other. It’s as much a Bid Day tradition at MSU as the tight T-shirts with classic logos/slogans rewritten to be cutesy/relevant to the sorority that each sorostitute wears aroud campus on Bid Day.
Another Bid Day tradition? GDIs grumbling and complaining about how loud the sorority girls are. Try as one might to explain why it’s such a fun night for the girls, the non-Greeks are just never impressed or amused.
Amidst the screaming, honking, cheering, and complaining, I was picked up, put in a car with a bunch of girls I didn’t recognize from recruitment, and whisked away to the sorority house. They gave me my T-shirt (a baseball tee that declared our pledge class was “in a league of their own!”) to make it official. I was a pledge.
And with Bid Day, shit got real. I think every new pledge starts to wonder if she made the right decision. I mean, how could we help but think that once we saw the things they hid from us during recruitment? Among the cute and fun girls cheering for us as we entered the front door, we noticed all the other members. Oh so there are unnattractive girls in this house? we thought. Where were they during the parties?!
As pledges, we were expected to attend weekly new member meetings to bond with our fellow pledges and learn about the house. We learned about the chapter, its history, the rules and policies of the house, things like that. We also met the Executive Board.
The E-Board is the group of ten or so officers who run the show. The members changed from year to year, but the fact is, the hos in charge always stay the same.
President. New members usually piddle when they are talking to the president, but in most cases, the president is not that big of a deal. She has to be thin and pretty enough to represent the house well at all-Greek meetings, prudish enough that people don’t laugh when she says, “Don’t drink too much at tailgate,” and has to party enough so as not to seem out of touch with the partiers in the house. Mainly, she is diplomatic. Super, super diplomatic. In fact, when she stops being pretty and diplomatic and actually tries to hold girls to higher standards, they tend to get pissed. “The president’s job is not to do anything! Who does she think she is?!”
Vice President. The VP is always very sensitive — whether she’s upset over a bad grade or a fight with her roommate, you can bet her eyes will well up as she’s telling you about it. This makes her seem thoughtful and nice, so people respect her, and she needs to be respected, as she runs the house’s Standards board, which doles out punishment to meeting-skippers, rule-breakers, and sluts. Still, one cannot be fooled by her soft-spoken exterior — you’ll think you can trust her after she cozies up to you at breakfast and tearfully tells you about her boy problems, but when you have to go in front of her at Standards, you’ll regret casually mentioning to her that you pre-gamed in the chapter room because now you could lose date party rights for the rest of the semester.
Recruitment Chair. This girl is very pretty, usually due to her huge mass of perfectly-highlighted hair. She is beyond charismatic when she is talking to all the potential new members…and a total bitch to her own sisters as soon as the PNMs are out the door. She rules with an iron fist, telling the sisters to practice harder because she doesn’t care that they are hung over and sweating alcohol when their clapping is so out of sync this close to recruitment. She balances telling them that their shoes aren’t acceptable and that they need to shut the fuck up during the senior speeches with reminding them that their house is the best and she loves them all to death. During recruitment, everyone hates her, but they would hate her even more if she let sisters attend recruitment parties wearing gross accessories or if they got a bad pledge class.
New Member Educator. This girl meets with the pledges every week and her job is to keep them from dropping out, so she has to be extremely accessible and welcoming. She is tiny and beautiful, like Tinkerbell in a Greek letter hoodie. She’s just so bubbly when teaching everyone about the chapter’s history, they can’t help but love the house. Because the pledges meet with her more than any other member, she takes on a protective, motherly role. Except when she’s hazing. Then it’s more like, “Why does mommy drink and hit me?”
Internal Social Chair. The internal social chair is constantly scrutinized because she handles the house’s social events like Formal and Date Party — two events that are likely to cause the most sorority drama. The best internal socials are the ones with great taste — after all, we can’t have Formal in some gross VFW hall or something. She’s been planning her wedding since she was six years old, so she plans Formal accordingly. But like a Bridezilla who tells her bridesmaids not to gain weight, the internal social has to be fearless when it comes to the girls’ social behavior. If she doesn’t keep an eye on the drunk pledges who are attempting to sneak off and have sex with their dates on the golf course during Formal, we might not get to have a good date party next semester.
External Social Chair. The external social chair handles all the social events that take place with the frats, like tailgate or mixers. She is usually elected to this position not because she is particularly responsible, but because she has a good relationship with the frats…if you know what I mean. While the internal social would send a pledge home for being too drunk at an event, the external social encourages the pledges to show up wasted for every party or “all the frats are going to hate us!” She is the one banging on everyone’s door for a 6 AM tailgate and calling us lame if we won’t go to a “No Pants Party” on a Tuesday night in December.
I knew right away I was going to be the recruitment chair when it was my turn to have a position. I loved recruitment from the day I started rushing, but I was even surer once I began pledging. I looked at my fellow pledges and realized there were so many girls I wanted to tell to shut the fuck up and to change into cuter shoes. I couldn’t wait until I was an elected official so I actually could.