Sorority Rush: Stay Calm, Mom

by Joy Donovan on August 10, 2013

Sorority rush, now called “recruitment” for some silly reason, is in full swing in the south.  It’s an annual ritual difficult to explain to others who know nothing of its drama, an annual rite of fall preceding football season at most big state schools in the south.

The ordeal and its long-term repercussions for happiness and social standing can send shock waves through neighborhoods. It can cause grown women to melt into a puddle of tears. It can cause curtains to be drawn and overwrought mothers to take to their beds.

Ushering in the season is Oklahoma State University, which in fact finished its Panhellenic rush week today. As far as I can discern, the sun will rise again tomorrow.

As the mother of three daughters who have participated in this exciting, agonizing, scary, fun, emotional, confusing, thrilling, whirlwind, heart-stopping week, I want to assure the mothers of these girls going through rush that you will survive. It might not seem like it if you’re daughter calls you sobbing because the sorority she just knew was the one for her decided they weren’t going to invite her back. Or if she chooses the one you know to be the “wrong” one. Or if her roommate doesn’t deserve to be getting invited back to so many. Or if … (fill in the blank with whatever is your current state of anxiety).

I was a rush advisor for my own national sorority for several years, and I have first-hand knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes. It’s busy, and it’s competitive both for the sororities and the rushees. It’s very difficult, as a mom, to send your sweet baby off to college, and the first week she’s there have her go through something like sorority rush. For those who care about sororities, the stakes can seem very, very high.

Countless cute daughters are wearing their best dresses with their best shoes and smiling till their pony tails hurt in an effort to make the right impression. And moms have nothing left to do at this stage of the game but to wad their hankies in knots, talk endlessly on the phone to sorority alums about “what ifs” and drink jugs of wine.

When you do get to speak to your precious baby in between the rounds of parties, remember to hide your anxiety from her. She doesn’t need you dumping your fears on her; she needs you to pump her up.

Most of the rushees are happy with whatever sorority they end up pledging. As my cousin said to me today after her daughter pledged at OSU, “she’s absolutely in the right place for her.”

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