In freshman year, I was involved with nothing besides hanging out in my dorm. In high school I had jam-packed my schedule with every extracurricular I could find, and by the time I landed myself at Stanford, I was ready to chill out. I hadn’t had much free time in the years preceding my arrival at the Farm, so I made a very conscious effort to do nothing but “enjoy college,” my freshman year. That roughly translated to taking 13 units freshman fall, overcompensating by taking 20 in the winter, and by the time it got to spring, taking Spanish film studies classes that were unlikely to count towards my degree, but did involve watching a movie a week.
While I do admit that I dabbled in a variety of campus activities, from my shaky tenure as Cedro’s IM Sports Coordinator to attempting to make waking up for 8 a.m. triathlon practices a habit, I honestly didn’t get involved with anything freshman year. I made some great friends derping around in my freshman dorm, but I really didn’t do anything outside of it. Freshman me also had no idea what I was majoring in. Lost in a sea of young adult uncertainty, by spring quarter I had had a lot of fun and had done nothing of note thus far at Stanford.
Fast forward to spring rush: I decided to do it. I’m not a super girly person, but as an ex-high school athlete, I figured it was worth checking out rush to possibly meet a good group of girls. All my closest high school friends had come from sports teams, and I liked the idea of a female community. I wanted to give rush a shot and see whether I could meet more people than the ones who just lived in my residence.
Let me just say, I’m glad I rushed, and it was one of the worst experiences I’ve had at Stanford.
As a girl who grew up with four brothers, I’m not the best “girl-flirter” – in other words, someone who makes great small talk with women who don’t really know or care about you. There are seven sororities at Stanford, and on the first day, you are whisked from chapter to chapter where you will be judged based off of your appearance and the quality of your three-minute interactions with various sorority members. The first day takes around seven hours. As a PNM (potential new member), first impressions matter as chapters may see 400 girls on the first day and can only offer bids to 40. There is simply no equitable way to judge that many women, so it can come down to who knows whom, extremely good first-impressions, or simply how attractive a PNM is. I recently learned the rush synonym for being extremely attractive is “polished.” This trait can up your desirability in rush, because it’s important for good-looking sorority pictures.
Regardless of whether someone gets into their number one choice or decides to drop out of rush after the first day, there are a wide variety of emotions that come at the end of the process. Some girls get matched with a new group of people who will play a huge role in their collegiate social experience; others end rush without a group at all. Because we’re Stanford students and generally pretty awesome people, the inequity in the process leads to great matches for some friends and disappointment for others. This is true for boys’ and girls’ rush, though the boys get more free food and sometimes get to smash things with frats.
I’m so glad that I rushed, because my short meaningless conversations caused me to reflect on my time thus far at Stanford and spurred some introspection. Though I had done some awesome things in the past, I realized that I hadn’t done anything I was particularly proud of since coming to college. Talking to sororities who chatted with a hundred girls who had been dorm derping like myself made me realize that I wasn’t that unique, and I wanted to find more interesting ways to spend the rest of my time at Stanford. This thought encouraged me to get involved with activities that have been excellent parts of my post-frosh life and introduced me to people who share interests similar to my own. As someone writing from a non-Greek perspective, I can honestly say that I’m extremely glad to have rushed and perfectly happy to be unaffiliated.
Contact McKenzie Andrews at andrews7 “at” stanford.edu.