Hello From the Other Side: Reflecting on Rush

Ava Koros ’23 looks back on her sorority rush experience.

by Ava Koros | 10/20/21 2:05am

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by Zooriel Tan / The Dartmouth

For many Dartmouth students, Greek life provides a space for them to connect with people outside of their normal circles on campus. Joining Greek life can make the College feel smaller and less overwhelming — especially after a year spent behind masks and on Zoom. This fall specifically, sorority rush was an important kind of mass introduction for a large portion of Dartmouth students. 

Whether a Potential New Member or a current member of a sorority, these students connected in fleeting moments of introduction, taking place in the rooms of various sorority houses across campus. Sharing an elevator pitch about themselves that they’d probably repeated at least fifteen times that day, there is no denying that the rush process doesn’t allow people to fully get to know one another. Yet, PNMs and affiliated members alike enjoyed the opportunity to physically meet after recognizing one another from around campus or an old Zoom class. I watched as PNMs eagerly shared their passions as a way to form connections with new people — hoping to find a place to continue building those friendships, even after the rush process ends.  

Although I was living in Hanover when I rushed last winter, today’s campus would not be recognized. Compared to the lines out the door now, Foco was empty — and the combination of quarantine and cold weather kept many people inside. With the entire rush process being online, I remember feeling elated when I logged onto zoom to join each party — excited to be able to interact with new people, even if from my room alone. And I was not the only one who felt this way: I remember noticing how eager people were to talk in breakout rooms. More often than not, our conversations would get cut short in transitions and the jarring “switching back to the main room” across my screen would remove the closure from conversations. 

Although the ISC did a fantastic job making rush work in nonideal circumstances, in hindsight, my excitement for socialization blinded me to the experience I was missing out on. In-person rush obviously fosters a completely different feeling from the Zoom experience. This year, this issue of running out of time persisted, but the option to linger and wrap things up made the conversations feel more meaningful. Even though many PNMs would show up to my sorority sweaty, having run across campus to make their parties on time, they could use body language to get a better read of mine and other members’ feelings. Even though our masks would sometimes muffle words or make it hard to fully read facial expressions, being in person felt great after a year of online socializing. 

Seeing all the PNMs walking into my sorority with their name tags dangling around their necks, I empathized with their anxiety and excitement. This year, I felt those same feelings — but now in a new way. Though when boiled down, rush is really just conversations, there is no denying that it is stressful from both ends; as an affiliated member, I wanted PNMs to feel a connection — and I took responsibility for making this a reality. 

Despite the rush system’s flaws, I had fun getting to know new people, and have many more familiar faces that I can wave to around campus. That being said, feeling comfortable during rush is a privilege, and  I recognize that my experience is not universal. I remember feeling startled the first time a PNM redirected one of my questions back at me, thinking my days of answering questions about which superpower I would want were behind me. But now, I understand how important reciprocal interactions are for PNMs — just as much as houses are looking to form their class, the PNMs are searching for a community where they feel like they belong. 

After being on the other side of the rush process, as well as being in person, the system’s flaws have become more apparent to me. During rush, one of my favorite questions to ask PNMs was, “What would you change about the Greek system?” I know that many other members of my and other sorority houses asked this question as well — and the answers ranged from minor changes, like the length of rush conversations, to abolishing the Greek Systems altogether. 

Joining these groups — however amazing and socially connective they might be — increases the power of Greek Life on campus. I have loved being in a sorority, but I also understand how difficult and unfair the rush process can be across all houses. I’m still not sure exactly how to change a process that is so ingrained and leads to so many friendships on this campus, but I know that even though Dartmouth students like to say our rush process is different, in many ways we still have a long way to go if we want to improve the system.

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