Sorority Rush Week has returned to the University of Alabama campus — much to the fascination of social media.
The sorority recruitment process — also known as “rushing” — is a period of several weeks in which fraternities and sororities hunt for new members.
It’s been a long-standing tradition across countless US colleges and universities, but Bama’s Greek life campaign caught the attention of gawkers worldwide last year — with the hashtags #bamarush and #rushtok having amassed more than one billion views combined on TikTok currently.
So get your Kendra Scott jewelry and tote bag ready because it’s time to watch higher ed’s most grueling popularity contest yet.
Associated clips on the social media platform offer a peak into the life of a University of Alabama Greek life hopeful as they share their outfits of the day (#OOTD, for short), show off their their on-trend — and often monogramed — tote bags and discuss recruitment essentials and advice on getting into the right sorority.
According to the Alabama Panhellenic Association, this year’s recruitment officially begins on August 6 for potential new members — dubbed “PNMs” — who have been preparing for weeks (if not their whole lives), all the while documenting the process online.
PNMs are competing to join one of the 18 National Panhellenic Conference chapters at Bama. In July, the panhellenic association announced that 2,575 students had signed up to rush, as reported by AL.com
PNMs must be ready for anything during rush “week,” which usually spans about 9 days. In spite of academic coursework, the women must attend a battery of mandatory events, each of which requires a different dress code — hence the #OOTD ritual posts and totes bag filled with on-the-go essentials.
TikToker Gracyn Edmonson, who is rushing this week, showed off what she’s carrying n her pink Longchamp bag during the demanding process, including a portable fan, a toiletry bag, sewing kit, compact mirror, flip-flops, moleskins for blisters, hairspray, two types of deodorant, ponchos and a bag of mints.
“There’s literally so much stuff in this bag, my shoulder’s going to break off before the end of the week,” she said in the clip that’s been viewed over 3.2 million times. “I hope that I have everything.”
The first event of the week, called convocation, will introduce PNMs to active members of various sororities, followed by presentation and tour of the sorority house, where they’ll learn a but more about the mission, structure and, of course, parties offered by that chapter.
This is followed by community service events and additional opportunities to bond with potential sisters, before deciding which house suits them best on Preference Day.
It all leads up to Bid Day, at which point the women find out if they were accepted into their sorority of choice.
Last year’s process propelled some PNM’s into TikTok stardom as the internet grew captivated by a complex and secretive recruitment process that was once only known to those in-the-know.
Alabama’s Greek life has become infamous among the historically segregated National Panhellenic Conference chapters — not to be confused with the National Pan-Hellenic Council, the umbrella organization for historically African American fraternities and sororities — with many on social media noting that most rushees appear to be white, blonde women. Indeed, Alabama’s Greek system only desegregated their NPC sororities in 2013, dragging far behind most schools across the country.
Alabama Panhellenic Association promises “equitable opportunities” in its recruitment rulebook. Nevertheless, University of Alabama sororities remained about 89% white in 2021, according to The Crimson White campus newspaper.
The activity is also a pricey one, with the average cost of fees for a new member at $4,170 per semester, according to university data. Those who live in the chapter house are charged meal fees on top of that, about $7,465 per semester.
Meanwhile, those on the outside get to experience the rush of rush for free via social media.
“Best time of the year,” one user declared as many echoed the sentiment. “Happy bama rush to all who celebrate,” agreed another.