Even if you’ve seen movies like
Legally Blonde and Sydney White a million times, the Greek system can be a bit confusing to anyone who hasn’t been a part of it. Of course, you know basic terminology like sorority houses and sisters. However, you may be wondering what rush week is, especially if you’ve found yourself on #BamaRush TikTok recently.
If you don’t have friends or family in Greek life to fill you in, you might find yourself caught up in the spectacle and drama of rush week while being totally clueless about what’s actually going on. Many TikTokers are going through their own
rush week journey while scrolling through the FYP for tips and insights. Though watching hopefuls show off their OOTDs while doing dance trends at the University of Alabama is grade A entertainment, chances are you’ll encounter a term (or five) during rush that you don’t understand.
For anyone who’s a little lost, a glossary with some lesser-known words and phrases will help you break down what’s happening and navigate the whole process much more seamlessly. From rush week to Bid Day, here are some sorority terms explained for anyone needing a Greek life 101. While you could always try to figure it out with a marathon of
Greek or a rewatch of The House Bunny, this helpful rush week guide will do all the work for you. Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/Getty Images
You may be able to guess that rush week is how a sorority recruits its new members. The term “recruitment” can even be used interchangeably with rush week, so if you hear both being thrown around, that’s why. The reason it’s a weeklong process is that there are social events throughout the week that incoming hopefuls attend to get to know different members of various sorority houses. It’s basically like an extended interview process that involves a lot of mingling and parties, and each university may have slightly different rush week traditions.
If you’ve been following the University of Alabama’s
recruitment schedule, it goes from convocation to open house, followed by philanthropy days and sisterhood days. Those lead up to Preference Day, and everything ends on Bid Day. For each of those days, there’s also a different dress code, which why you may have seen various #OOTD posts on TikTok.
Pref Night is short for Preference Night, which is the final night before decisions are made. This is not only a hopeful’s last chance to make a good impression on the house of their dreams, but it’s also the sorority house’s final opportunity to impress them as well.
While wearing formal attire, a rushee attends their top two or three houses for a party and ranks them at the end of the night. The same goes for the houses ranking the rushees, and these results are then used to try and match the person to a house.
Bid Day is the final day of recruitment. It’s when new members receive their bid to join a house. You may have seen some exciting
Bid Day reveals on TikTok. It’s like a sorting hat ceremony from Harry Potter. From there, the house has a fun Bid Day activity planned for all the new members to get to know each other.
A chapter is your university or college’s part of a national sorority organization. Take Target, for example, which has a bunch of stores all over the country. So, your hometown’s Target would be your specific chapter of the Target organization. That’s why you see so many Chi Omega sororities and Alpha Kappa Alpha houses. Each one is a different chapter.
While you may have received a bid, you are not a full member until you’ve gone through initiation. This is the ritual ceremony that takes new members into full membership, and along the way, you get to learn even more about your house before fully committing to it.
Depending on your university, this could also take a full week just like rush, but it’s more secretive, so you won’t be seeing it as much on TikTok. A big part of initiation week is the bond you’re creating with your fellow pledges and sorority sisters that lasts even after graduation.
Klaus Vedfelt/DigitalVision/Getty Images
When you’re a new member, you’re considered a pledge. A current member of the sorority (usually one grade ahead) will become your pledge mom or Big once you join. Your Big will act as a mentor to you (their Little) and look out for you during the rest of your time in college and beyond. The two of you (and any other Bigs or Littles) are called a pledge family.
While the friendships you make joining a sorority are priceless, it does cost money to become a member. When you become a full member, you must pay your dues. These funds help to pay for your chapter’s day-to-day expenses such as housing and food. It goes into things like social events and philanthropy work to make your university’s community better.
Each new member receives a badge from their sorority once initiated, which is usually jewelry with the chapter’s letters on it. It’s an insignia of your sorority that members can proudly wear.
If you’re a legacy to a particular sorority, that means your mom, sister, or grandmother was an initiated member of that sorority. You’ve probably seen in movies where being a legacy is a big thing because it can mean you are a shoo-in to get a bid. However, it’s not always a guarantee. You still need to fulfill certain criteria, like your chapter’s GPA requirement.
A lot of the Greek system is based on traditions that go back for years. When you join a house, you’ll be getting a history lesson right away from the different rituals that your specific chapter adheres to. Since the rituals are private traditions, they’re more secretive, but could include different chants or creeds that you must memorize as a sister.
Some rush weeks include a philanthropy round, which is in the middle of the process. At this point, you must be invited back to a sorority house for their philanthropy round party where you’ll get to meet more members and find out about different philanthropy events each of the houses hold throughout the year. It’s basically a second interview and a way to find out if you really fit in with the houses you like.