When a potential new member (PNM) goes through sorority recruitment for the first time, the characteristic of the process that has the greatest impact on her is certainly the door song.
Her Pi Chi lines her up and sprays her with air freshener, but nothing can truly prepare her for the wall of sound that is about to hit her eardrums once the house doors open. She has never heard anything like it, but she is about to become very familiar with the tradition.
The door songs also inevitably impact the sorority sisters in a huge way. Each house is unique, and the way Greek sisters prepare for rush differs from one another, but all Greek women have nursed their vocal cords with hot tea at some point. That is because the songs cannot simply be sung; they must be screamed. The words eventually cease to be words and form a chain of loud, sometimes unintelligible sounds. The pitch of the chant grows to a high and sometimes piercing point. And that is what sisters strive for, as they want to impress the PNMs by shocking their ears. That is the tradition.
But we have to ask ourselves- why is that the tradition? Door songs are meant to welcome girls, not jolt them as they hesitantly cross the threshold. And accompanying the screams with physical jumping and clapping only adds to the commotion. At some houses, you can even hear the thuds of gray sneakers hitting hardwood floors before you ever lay eyes on a single sister. The soft, sweet songs uttered at the last round of recruitment make you wonder why each round cannot be as gentle and warm as the last.
However, the songs themselves are catchy. Going through recruitment day-in and day-out, PNMs will surely find themselves waking up and singing the songs to themselves out of habit. And speaking in public relations terms, that nature of the songs is priceless. You want PNMs singing about your sorority and sharing the melodies with the girls in their Pi Chi group. Furthermore, the songs encompass the best aspects of each sorority, whether they are ‘the greatest girls at USC’ or ‘better than all the rest.’ In a way, those door songs are free, priceless publicity.
So we all continue screaming and chanting and clapping, trying to be louder and more in-sync than anyone else. The door songs are what PNMs remember; if nothing else, the girls will be able to identify the sorority from what melody was pounded deep into their minds. The muscles in our arms burn from holding them above our heads for so long, and our vocal cords are strained to the point of abandon, but we continue the effort because we believe that’s what PNMs are looking for and will be impressed by.
However, this debate begs the question- is a great door song enough?