To The Girl Who Just Finished Sorority Recruitment

To The Girl Who Just Finished Sorority Recruitment

I know you're tired, but it will all be so worth it, whether the experience was pleasant or not.

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So. Rush. Every school does it differently, but no matter who you are or where you're from, it's exhausting.

If you're not familiar, the terms "rush" and "recruitment" refer to the process that college girls go through to figure out what sorority they will join.

It's days and days of trying to look like the best version of yourself and talking until you lose your voice.

It's late nights, early mornings, and sometimes missed assignments. Maybe tears were involved, either from lack of sleep or pure frustration. Sometimes you thought you had a really good conversation with a sister, but you didn't get invited back.

I know the process was exhausting, but no matter the outcome, it will all be so worth it.

Bid day is nerve-wracking, exciting and surreal all in one. It's the day you will meet your new friends and family, even if you don't feel that way at first.

You'll be hugged by strangers. You'll take lots of awkward pictures. And my favorite, you'll be surrounded by chants that sound downright terrifying.

I promise it was not a waste of time. One day, you'll laugh with your big and her friends, as they recall the day they couldn't wait to meet you and hug you, even if you didn't know them yet. One day, you and your best friends will come across a picture you don't quite remember taking, but there you'll all be, side by side. One day you'll be the one singing and chanting, ready to do the recruiting.

I'm always amazed at how life brings people together. Even if recruitment doesn't go as you hoped, or bid day doesn't feel as welcoming as you imagine, one day you will look back on the experience as a whole and be grateful.

To this day, I am still friends with some of the girls I met through recruitment, even if we did not end up in the same sorority. If you think about it, no matter how your experience turned out, you did an incredible thing by putting yourself out there. Really, all you were doing that whole time was networking, which is truly a valuable skill in today's world. So, whether you stuck with recruitment, or decided halfway through that it wasn't your thing, you gave it a try and that's what matters. At this time in your life, this process was something that you wanted to try. Now, there is no room for regrets.

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I Sleep On a Porch, And No, It’s Not Outside

I sleep in the same room as 38 other girls, and I kind of like it.
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If you told me my freshmen year of college that I would be sleeping in the same room as 38 other people, I would have told you that you’re crazy. If you had told me that I’d be living with 38 other females, let alone the 52 I currently live with, I would have laughed in your face.

Which is why I feel like such a hypocrite whenever I tell people that I honestly love it. I love living in. I love living in a shoe box. Most of all I love the sleeping porch.

You see, when I first heard the words “sleeping porch,” it was during one of the sorority house tours I took my freshmen year during sorority recruitment. While touring various overly neat and overly decorated rooms the girl giving me the tour perkily informed me that “we don’t have a sleeping porch, so everyone has a bed in their room.”

Needless to say, I was a little confused. Where else would someone have a bed besides their room? Were there really sorority houses that made girls sleep outside on a porch? Did these porch sleepers have to sleep in waterproof sleeping bags? The term itself didn’t seem very welcoming.

Ok, let me back up a second. For those of you who aren’t exactly caught up on the sorority lingo let me explain exactly what a sleeping porch, colloquially referred to as “The Porch”, really is. A sleeping porch is a large room filled with bunk beds that is always dark, always cold, and always quiet. Each girl selects either a top or bottom bunk on a bunk bed and that is where she sleeps.

It’s a room in which the whole purpose of which is to sleep. The only part of my belongings that I have on the sleeping porch is my pillow, electric blanket, and maybe a stuffed animal (which I will neither confirm nor deny the existence of). My desk, dresser, and closet all reside in a separate “study room” which I share with three other girls.

I know it sounds weird. It did to me at first. Before I started living in the sorority house I was genuinely convinced I wasn’t going to be able to sleep on the porch at all. First of all, I thought I would freeze to death since fire and health code regulations require the windows to be open at all times.

Second, I thought I would be woken up every five minutes due to girls talking, people climbing up and down from bunks and constant alarms going off.

But honestly, I’ve gotten the best sleep of my life on the porch. I mean of course at first, it was a culture shock getting used to falling asleep with other people going in and out and alarms going off at all given times in the morning but after about a week my body just sort of adjusted.

The only time I wake up is to the sound of my own alarm. As for the cold, it's not that bad with the addition of an electric blanket and some flannel sheets. Once the blanket heats up it’s actually quite cozy.

The best part of the porch though is it provokes separated living. I study in one place and I sleep in another. Before the porch, I had an issue getting to sleep because I could lie in bed and watch Netflix on my computer and be on my phone.

Now my mind knows that when I go into the porch, it’s sleep time. It also allows me a space in which I can study and have the light on 24/7 since no one sleeps in the room in which I have my desk.

When I lived in the dorms my freshmen year, my roommate and I had very different sleep habits. I stayed up late to study while she preferred to be in bed earlier. This left me with the decision of finding somewhere else to study or to bother her with the lamplight. Now I can stay up until all hours of the night cramming for midterms since there’s no one sleeping in my room to be bothered by my frustrated groans.

It also prevents me from the classic “studying” in bed or as it usually ends up for me “falling asleep with my textbook as my pillow.” The porch is also perfect for the sleep deprived induced quick midday nap since it’s a place guaranteed to be dark, thanks to the heavy duty light blocking curtains, and always quiet, thanks to the dirty looks anyone making copious amounts of noise receives.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s not all flowers and rainbows. I do miss spending Saturdays afternoons lounging in bed for hours and not having to run up a whole flight of stairs to get to my closet. It can also really make it feel like there is no privacy whatsoever.

But this forced social interaction is part of what has helped me bond to the people around me. After all, what’s more bonding than making your friends walk with you to bed because you just watched “Stranger Things” for the first time and now have an irrational fear of Demogorgons.

All in all, the porch isn’t that bad. I actually like it. After all, its quite reassuring to know that if I’m in dire need of a high five in the middle of the night all I have to do is reach over and wake up my neighbor, and if I have a crisis at 8:00 in the morning my closest friends are only one bunk and a hard shove away.

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Joining A Panhellenic Sorority As A Woman Of Color

It didn't matter that I looked different than everyone else, it mattered that I was me.

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A part of me always wanted to be part of a sorority. Not because of the superficial part of it—like the parties and the formals—but because of feeling like you "belonged." When I was in high school, I saw pictures of girls who had graduated from my high school and were in sororities at their respective colleges, and I couldn't help but want to be part of it. They looked so happy in their pictures with their "families" and with their sorority sisters, I couldn't help but notice, however, that almost no people of color were in those pictures.

I grew up in a predominantly white community and attended a predominantly white school district, so going to school at Villanova wasn't much of an adjustment in that aspect. In the fall semester, I met my three best friends, one of whom was one of my roommates, and we four became inseparable. We spent every day together, from eating meals to doing homework, but I felt that I needed to expand my circle. I started talking to more people in my learning community, and I joined the all-female women's choir and met some great girls there. However, by the end of the semester, I struggled to find a community where I truly "fit in."

As we were about to leave for winter break, all of the freshman girls on campus were asking each other, "Are you rushing?" I would always respond, "I'm considering it!" I checked out the social media of each of the sororities, and my main concern was that I could count the number of women of color in each sorority on one hand. Because of that, I briefly considered joining a multicultural sorority, but the fact that those sororities were identified by a certain race wasn't ideal for me. As a maker of impulsive decisions, I decided that I would just go through the formal Panhellenic recruitment process and see how it goes. My parents were in full support, but I don't think they really expected me to go through with my decision.

For those of you who don't know how Panhellenic recruitment works at Villanova, it's basically four days of talking to girls in all eight sororities on campus. On the first day, you talk to a few girls from four sororities, and then on the second day, you talk to girls from the other four sororities. After the second day, you rank your top sororities. On the third day, girls can attend up to five chapters' events and rank them, and on the last day, it's narrowed down to two. Throughout the whole process, all of the sororities use a mutual selection process where potential new members and the individual sororities are all making rankings.

I walked in on the first day into the grand ballroom and I probably saw around 10 women of color. I shouldn't have been surprised, but it was crazy to see in person. I brushed it off, and I went into each round as my most authentic self. However, when I was called back to only two chapters on the third day after talking to all of the sororities, I became self-conscious. Was it because of how I dressed? Was it because of how I looked? I reminded myself that these chapters were actually interested in me and that I should make the most of these rounds. They were both chapters that I really wanted to be in, so after this, it was a matter of which one showed more of an interest in me.

On the last day, I was only called back to one chapter, so if I ended up getting a bid from that chapter, it would be no surprise which chapter it would be. In that last round, I had some extremely genuine conversations with girls in the sorority. I talked about the weirdest aspects about myself that I didn't tell girls in any other sorority, and I clicked with pretty much all of the girls I talked to.

When I talked to them, it didn't matter that I looked different than everyone else, it mattered that I was me.

After I received a bid (i.e. an invitation) from that sorority, I was ecstatic. I will admit that I thought I would transform into this new person, but throughout my first weeks in the sorority, I felt like pretty much exactly the same person I was when I came in. And that's one thing I loved about my sorority—the people around me caused me to be the best version of myself, not a new version of myself. It helped that our campus doesn't have university-sponsored houses, because Greek life at schools that do becomes very prevalent and invasive on campus.

I want to make it clear that I'm not saying I've come to neglect my background. I have by no means forgotten about my Asian heritage; my race just isn't something I'm treated differently for. In the cover photo for this article, it's obvious that I'm one of two women of color in my pledge class of 35, but the sense of community I've found trumps the fact that my race is a physical differentiator. An example of this is my sorority "family": me, my big, gbig, and ggbig. It sounds silly to say, but in a normal family, it would turn heads to have one Asian person in a fully Caucasian family, but it makes no difference in this one.

Katelyn Tsai

To some, it may seem like I'm making a bigger deal than I should be about being Asian in a Panhellenic sorority, but as a woman of color, race impacts most aspects of my life. In the classroom and in the workplace, we are often the only person who looks like us in the room, and we are treated differently for it. I've been asked by a white teacher in class, "What do you think about this from your experience?" Naturally, being part of the majority, a white person probably wouldn't be asked such a question, but it's important to be empathetic when speaking to people of color.

I can't ensure that all women of color choosing to go through with Panhellenic recruitment will have the same experience I did. For all I know, my success story could have been an exception to what women of color normally experience. I do want to emphasize that the reason I was able to gain so many more great people and experiences in my life was because I took the initial risk—I didn't think about the possible consequences that could result from rushing; I just did it before I could doubt myself. Often, women of color experience imposter syndrome, where we experience self-doubt about our accomplishments, and I didn't want that to impact my ultimate decision to rush.

To my fellow women of color: we are powerful in our own right, and any sorority would be lucky to have our diverse backgrounds and experiences.

And if other friends who are people of color are questioning your decision to rush, it shouldn't matter, because everyone's paths in college are different. At the same time, don't completely immerse yourself into such a "white" community and lose yourself in the process. Find a way to strike the balance between the different groups of people you surround yourself with, and your college experience will be that much more fulfilling.

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