Going to a college in the United States meant exposure to a wide range of co-curricular activities, such as playing sports or representing the school in the performing arts. What is unique about the American system is the existence of greek life - it comprises of fraternities for guys and sororities for the ladies. Generally, membership in a fraternity or sorority is obtained while an undergraduate student but continues, thereafter, for life. Some of these organizations can accept graduate students as well as undergraduates, per constitutional provisions. My first exposure to greek life came at the beginning of the semester, during the spring club fairs which were seeking new members. Among them, there were several greek organizations that were tabling in the hall.
I soon learnt there were several stages that one must undergo in order to gain full membership ie. become a brother or a sister.
“Rushing” is when students become acquainted with the different fraternities or sororities on campus, and the process can range from very formal and structured to informal and casual. Rushing for sororities tend to be more formal, with different themes and requirements for each day. Rush events can include casual informational sessions, where potential recruits have their first interactions with those who are already members and to get a feel of what that particular greek organisation is like. Immediately following rush, members will extend a bid to successful rush-ees.
PledgingOnce a new member accepts the bid, he or she then becomes a pledge and enters the pledging process. It usually involves learning about the history of the organization, the history of the chapter, the current members, and team building/bonding among the class of new pledges through social and fundraising events. While the length of time differs for every organization, pledging usually lasts for 5 to 8 weeks in the semester before pledges are officially initiated as brothers or sisters.
Why rush a greek organisation? People do it for different reasons - networking forms a huge part of why people rush. Joining a greek organisation is a great way to widen your social network and this could help you in the future. Also, when you join a fraternity, there are many leadership opportunities within the organization to be filled - this is great if you're looking for a leadership position.
I definitely encourage those who go to school outside of the States to attend the rush events - even if you have no intention of joining. It's a great way to meet like-minded people and expand your network on campus. As an incoming exchange student, your chances of getting a bid might be lower, but it never hurts to try!