“I Survived Sorority Recruitment”


The start of the spring semester at Case Western Reserve University ushers in the exciting, yet daunting, period of sorority recruitment. Two weekends of introductory conversations about our hometowns, what we like to do with our friends, the inclement weather outside and the expected inquisitiveness about our interest in recruitment. Being a part of recruitment can prove rewarding to pledges, with the promise of sisterhood and a close-knit community of like-minded individuals. However, the pressure to secure a bid by manufacturing unique responses to questions can create a toxic, competitive culture among potential new members (PNM), making them forget the reason they chose to rush in the first place: sisterhood. 

While the sororities themselves are not responsible for this dissolution of camaraderie, and are very committed to making sure that pledges have as comfortable and welcome experience as possible, echoing  “trust the process” whenever pledges question their chances of being invited back, the process itself can cause a loss of the faith that pledges have in themselves. 

Getting invited back to a sorority serves as bragging rights and points above the other girls rushing with you. Receiving invitations back to eight sororities generates either immense joy or envy for you among your peers, while receiving below five invites sympathy and numerous ‘:(‘ texts to be sent your way. 

The entire process, which aims at evaluating both your preferences and the sororities’ thoughts about you, relies on an “algorithm,” which is shrouded in secrecy and whose inexplicable machinations are inexplicable, even by your Rho Chi (recruitment counselor). Ultimately, you are boiled down to a mere numeric assessment that sorority members are forced to generate after speaking with you for 20 minutes, barely an apt amount of time to go beyond basic introductions and pleasantries. 

This is not to say that sorority recruitment at Case has no upside, as sorority members consistently demonstrate an interest to get to know you with the limited time they have been given, as well as a true appreciation and love for their sorority, frequently referring to it as their home. Nor is this an attack on the sororities or sorority members themselves, as they are simply subjected to the same cutthroat nature of the entire recruitment experience that sorority hopefuls face. 

These sentiments are based upon the accounts of several students who underwent the recruitment process and shared their experiences to help summarize and provide insight into a bizarre two weekends. 

“Recruitment isn’t even close to being perfect,” said one student. “The process is brutal and overall doesn’t care what the new members want. I have seen a few girls crying since they did not get invited back to the sororities that they wanted. It is ridiculous that when guys rush fraternities, they get free food and get to play games, meanwhile girls pay money to essentially get judged and rejected by many of the people they meet.”

Another student sympathized with this, saying, “I was pretty optimistic going into day one. But by the time I got to day two, the feeling completely changed.” 

Yet another said, “I thought my first day of ‘parties’ went great, but I ended up getting dropped from five chapters, including two of my favorites.”

Others discussed the toxic culture that they felt recruitment fosters, with one student stating that “the culture on day two felt far more toxic and competitive as some PNMs got invited back to more chapters than others. Although I loved nearly all the parties I attended, I wish I got more warning about the competition and judgment that would be part of the process.”

Another student said, “I definitely believe that this process is very competitive and drives a lot of people away from their friends because of jealousy. Furthermore, this process raises a lot of self-doubt on whether you are good enough.” 

This sentiment was confirmed by another student, who said that their “confidence in themselves was questioned. You really don’t know how they feel about you, and it sucks that you yourself are super nervous to talk to them, and by the time you get over your nerves, your time with the sorority is up, so your personality isn’t able to come through.”

One trend that was consistent in every account, however, was the kindness and openness of the sorority members, with a student saying that “Everyone in the sororities were very nice and I felt like they definitely wanted to talk to us. It actually felt like a very inclusive environment.” 

Another student said, “I think overall, recruitment is a positive experience. I’ve met a ton of new people, most of which I probably would never have met since they are not in my major or residence hall.” 

Another student confirmed this feeling, “I found people who I had amazing conversations with, and wouldn’t be able to meet any other way.” 

Similarly, others described how this entire process has encouraged them to go out of their comfort zone, with one student saying “I don’t regret going through this process, as, beforehand, I never thought I would enjoy it, as I am not a typical sorority sister,” and another saying “I learned to advocate for myself and eventually became more confident in talking to new people.”  

Sorority recruitment is complicated, and no one is able to fully understand its nuances or conclusions. For some, it’s a way to find a group of amazing friends and create memories that you will cherish for the rest of your life, which many sorority members referred to as “finding your future bridesmaids.” For others, it’s two weekends of anxiety and disappointment that will ultimately be a distant memory that makes you laugh whenever you think about it and question why you subjected yourself to it.

The process, however, is in desperate need of a renewal, one that weighs the opinions of the sorority members and pledges equally, and one that allows for the sororities to get to know the personality of the pledges better. The system’s rigid time restriction serves as an injustice to both the sororities and pledges, as it curbs interesting conversations and doesn’t give time for pledges to let their personality shine after the initial discomfort. 

Albeit, it’s an experience that it is unique to an undergraduate experience, and is certainly worth the $10 registration fee, simply for the triumph of saying “I survived sorority recruitment.”