Pink, green, azure and white lined the route that new members of their respective sororities would walk on their way to The Village on USM’s Hattiesburg campus.
“It actually overruled my expectations,” said Madison Marks, a new member of Delta Delta Delta Sorority. “I just expect to have lifelong friends and to do the service they promised we would do.”
While others will see sorority girls as simply wearing big shorts and converses, always seeming to gravitate toward each other in every single class and somehow never running out of Taco Bell money, I have finally come to understand the side of sorority girls that most of us on campus outside of Greek Life do not.
Bid Day showed me that sororities were not all glitter and an accumulation of social status through “sisterhood.”
On Aug. 31, I was shown that this sisterhood became as much a part of these girls’ lives as going to class. These new organizations – eight to be exact – illustrated that the social status of college is not just predicated on paying thousands of dollars for lifelong friendships.
“I guess so you can have sisters to help you,” Erin Golden said. “ A lot of people think it brings you down, but really they’re all there, and they lift you up.”
Over 300 girls went through the six-day process of applying lavish makeup, avoiding boys and getting to know each other well enough to be selectively chosen for the prestigious honor of being known as a sorority girl.
“I can see how she can branch out her friendships with friends,” said Jay Golden, father of Erin Golden, who joined Chi Omega. “It’s important for them to feel a part of something instead of an outsider.”
Jay saw that his daughter was branching out to become a more complete person and focusing on more than academics. However, he is also wary of fraternity row being a little too close to The Village.
“You don’t want to think about it as a father,” Golden said. “She knows right from wrong. She’s an adult, and it’s her first time making choices in life.”
As I walked into the Payne Center gym to watch the recruitment of CPC sorority girls, I had to look for some guidance walking into an environment that I had no idea to cope with.
“We’re really trying to drive the values of each chapter,” said Vice President of Recruitment and Retention Madison Clark as I looked to her for guidance. “We’ve been trying to set real expectations for these girls, and there’s also an academic commitment as well.”
My next question for Clark was simple: What happens when a girl chooses a sorority, but the sorority does not choose her in response?
“It can be emotional sometimes, but what we really strongly encourage is for them to attend the Bid Day party because, at that point, there’s nothing to lose,” Clark said. “It can be pretty emotional at the time, but as long as you give it a shot, it could end up really great.”
At that moment, the stereotype that some sorority girls would give up the process altogether if they did not get into their dream sorority was shattered. These were not the spoiled girls that I had heard about on so many days prior to stepping out of my comfort zone and into theirs.
Soon after I discovered that this environment was neither intimidating nor exclusive to Greeks, I ran to the head of the stampede that would be all 300 girls walking to their respective sororities in The Village.
Outlining the streets were not only frat guys possibly looking for their next mate but countless family members who were there to support their daughters, nieces and sisters.
This was not just Bid Day for an 18-year-old — it was Bid Day for an entire family.
Inside The Village gates was an invisible wall with opposing but conjoined sides: those who waited to finally enter the houses they had been longing for, and those who waited to meet their “littles.”
As the wall came crashing down, both sides met each other for the first time as sisters, and I could see not only the glitter exchanging on hands and faces but the raw excitement of these girls establishing bonds that could last forever.
For Madison Marks, she knew from the start that Tri-Delta would be a good fit for her due to the organization’s service to the community.
“That’s the place I felt I can be the most [like] myself,” Marks said. “It was genuine. It wasn’t rehearsed conversations throughout Rush [Week]. They were the most true girls and wanted you to be your actual self.”
On Bid Day, I learned that these girls are more than just genuine. They were more than excited to meet their new sisters and potential lifelong friends. They were not some robots who usually dress the same and somehow always make over 3.5 grade point averages.
Every single woman — newly joined or seasoned member — showed me that being in a sorority is not just a social commitment.
It is, in part, finally joining a crowd with whom you were always meant to hang – and that is genuine.