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In Student Center, Women Undertake Sorority Rush

By Ramy A. Arnaout
Executive Editor

While new male students may feel thrown into the rush of choosing among the different fraternities and living groups, the process of sorority rush is collectively more coherent and follows a different set of rules.

"[Some] say it's more fair because it's more structured," said Audrey C. Wu '96, one of this year's sorority rush counselors, or Rho Chis, a group of temporarily de-affiliated sisters responsible for mediating the sororities' contact with the freshmen.

Sororities can only rush within set hours, Wu said. They also cannot talk to freshmen outside the rush rooms until they accept bids Tuesday, she said.

These restrictions give both freshmen and sororities a more level playing field, said Panhellenic Association Rush Chair Renee E. Garcia '96.

Rushing behind closed doors

Sorority rush began Friday night with the Women's Convocation, where freshmen women heard information about their living group options. "The general message was to find a place where you feel comfortable and [decide] what's best for you," Garcia said.

Freshmen can spend as long as they want at the sorority open houses held after the Women'sConvocation, but at later events they are welcome by invitation only, Garcia said. For the most part, these events include more skits and theme shows, together with more informal chatting.

"If a sorority likes them, it invites them back," Wu said.

On Thursday, the sororities led introductory tours through their rush rooms, located on the third and fourth floors of the Student Center. The tours were followed by two open houses Friday night and Saturday morning, Wu said.

All rushing takes place behind closed doors, with no loiterers or non-affiliates allowed, according to Panhel rules. That restriction is for the freshmen's benefit, Garcia said. "We want them to get to know the sisters - a group of women, not the guys who hang out with them." Of course, they also do not want men used as bait, she added.

After tonight's "preference parties," the rushees will have narrowed their choices from four or five sororities to two at most, according to Panhel rules.

Some people may choose only one sorority, also called a "suicide," making the selection process an all-or-nothing proposition, Garcia said. Even without that problem, this year's rush has been "a very hectic experience."

On bidding and being nice

Sororities assign quotas based on the number of freshmen who attend the preference parties, Garcia said. The four older sororities can accept at most 22 percent of attendees; the newer and smaller Alpha Epsilon Phi can take 12 percent, she said.

Based on the sororities' bid lists and the rushees' preferences, a computer algorithm will assign the freshmen to the sororities tonight.

Neither the sororities nor the Rho Chis ever see the bid lists, Garcia said. At most, sorority alumnae and Neal H. Dorow, adviser to fraternities, sororities, and independent living groups, get a look. The process ensures that no current sorority member (however de-affiliated) ever sees which of her new sisters was first pick, she said.

As far as sorority behavior is concerned, the guiding rule is "no badmouthing," Garcia said.

Sororities also try to avoid "anything that makes rush unfair - like talking with people outside the rush room, because that would be considered rushing" according to the rush rules, Wu said.

Sororities more down to earth

Sorority rush preparation includes everything from planning rush workshops and mailings to designing T-shirts and booklets, as put forth in the official Panhel rush rules. All in all, each sorority spends about $2,600 of its budget on rush, Garcia said.

But the sum spent on rush is falling, as sororities work to comply with National Panhellenic Conference suggestions, Garcia said. NPC recommends that local chapters do away with most of the hype - the skits and frilly decorations that mark traditional sorority rush, she said.

"They claim the sisters do it just for themselves," Garcia said. "I disagree; I think the sororities like to give the rushees something to look at, something to break" all the talking, she said.

But NPC is also trying to cater to its impression of 90s women as "more down to earth" than the yearly extravaganzas warrant, Garcia said. For her part, she favors a "low-frills" rush over a no-frills one, pointing out that the skits are often fun for freshmen, too.

Panhel recommends sororities aim for about $1,500 in total expenses in the future, according to Panhel rules. "We drop [the total] about $200 a year," Garcia said.