Sorority 101: Decoding Your Rush Lingo
Throughout the month of August, UniversityChic.com will be offering tips, tricks (and the REAL 411) about what you can expect when rushing a sorority. Each of the articles you see here are written by actual current and former sorority sisters, so the information provided is from an insider's perspective.
By Lexie Tiongson, San Francisco State University
Preparing to go through rush this fall? Well, there might be a few things you need to learn about how people in the Greek life talk before you jump into the process. Check out this "Sorority Lingo" manual to get inside scoop!
Sorority: In technical terms, soror means "sister" in its Latin root. Sorority can just mean a group of undergraduate women in a social club. A sorority can also be referred to as a female fraternity. This is because some sororities were founded before the word “sorority” was coined.
Rush Week: Also called "recruitment week." This is the week "rushees" or "potential members" attend "parties" at a house to meet the sisters of that sorority.
Rushee: A potential member.
Party: A themed event where sisters meet potential members. These events are typically invite-only and carry a dress code (see Pretty Playbook).
Pretty Playbook: Rules or guidelines on appropriate attire that is provided by a sorority prior to the beginning of Rush Week.
After Rush Week, a girl is given a bid, which is an invitation to join a sorority. Some potential members get more than one bid and have the option to pick which sorority they want. After a girl is given a bid and decides to join a sorority, she is then called apledge. A pledge can also be called a new member. Pledges (or new members) are girls who have accepted a bid, but are not yet initiated.
A bid ceremony concludes Rush Week and starts the new member period where pledges get pinned. Getting pinned means that a potential member becomes an official new member. It is also referred to as the pledge pin to separate new members from existing sisters in the sorority.
Panhellenic is the governing body which controls all the sororities on campus. For national sororities it is typically known as the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC). Panhellenic has officers who vote on things like letting a new sorority on campus or kicking a sorority off campus due to extreme measures. Recruitment counselors or advisors are also chosen by Panhellenic.
A badge, like the pledge pin, is a pin that sisters wear. It can include the sororities Greek letters or a symbol of the sorority. This badge is given to a sister during initiationshowing that she is a lifetime member of the sorority.
Initiation: A ceremony where a new member becomes an official sister of the sorority.
Hazing: Universally banned by most sororities and fraternities, hazing involves the process of forcing pledges to do humiliating, exhausting, (and sometimes dangerous) tasks to prove their commitment to greek life. Some examples of hazing include not being allowed to sleep or change your clothes for a week, being paddled in front of your fraternity brother or sisters, or being asked to steal something that could potentially result in criminal charges against you or outright expulsion.
Philanthropy: The charity or foundation a sorority chooses to support or raise funds for. An event can consist of a bake sale, a walk or run, or an event where sisters teeter totter for 12 hours to show their support for a cause.
Socials: These also known as mixers, which are themed parties held by a fraternity or sorority. There are various types of socials for different sororities and fraternities. An example can be a social where a sister can bring a date. A formal - just like prom but for Greek life in college - is a formal event in which a sister can bring a date. It normally involves a dinner and a dance or possibly a pinning ceremony (in fraternity terms, this is often a special ceremony held for a brother who wants to show his commitment to his significant other by giving his fraternity pin to her.)
Executive Board: Often referred to as the E-Board or Leader's Council. For each sorority the E-Board can be different, but it typically involves a President, Vice President, Rush Chair, etc.
Each sorority also has a national authority who governs how each chapter will run. The authority can be either called the Executive Office or National Office. A chapter is the sorority house at each college. For example, Alpha Phi at San Francisco State University is the Eta Theta chapter of the Alpha Phi International Fraternity.
For more information on rush basics and sorority life, check out the National Panhellenic Conference website.
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