An Open Letter to Sad Freshmen Girls:
Last night, Penn’s eight Panhellenic chapters each handed out 50–odd bids to the 630–some girls that signed up to rush in January. In case you don’t want to do the math, we’ll do it for you: roughly 400 bids were offered to 630 interested girls. Those numbers don’t add up. And even if they did, they don’t reflect the countless girls who didn’t get their first, second, third or fourth choices. For every girl with her social dreams coming true on bid night, smiling ear–to–ear and rocking the hand sign to her "new home," there is a girl who left bid night early to go home and cry alone in her twin XL bed, wondering if she should just give up and transfer to UMich or Cornell or Brown.
So here’s what no one tells you when you’re crying on bid night: everything will, most definitely, be okay.
A lot of things can go wrong during rush. You could get cut by your top choices and end up in a house you never saw yourself in. You could wind up in one house while all your friends wind up in another. Or you could get cut from everything. As a freshman girl who’s trying to find her place in the Penn community, any of the above undesirable outcomes can feel earth shattering.
Girl rush sucks for a lot of reasons (just ask anyone in OAX how much happier they are with their new rush process). It feels like your social life for the next three–and–a–half years at Penn might be determined by the impression you leave with a girl a couple years older than you after a single five–minute conversation about what you did over break. Or, worse, those three–and–a–half years could have been determined before you even started rushing. A house that cut you might have done it for the simple, unfair fact that you made out with the wrong boy at the wrong party at the wrong time.
The member selection process isn’t flawless or fair. It’s a sad reality that you may have even gotten cut from your favorite house because the girls there were too distracted when it came time to vote, and you were the umpteenth girl they were discussing, and honestly, they were too tired to focus on whether they liked you or not. So they cut you. The decisions that worked to create the worst moment of your Penn life so far have probably already been forgotten by the girls who made them.
Before you came to Penn, The House Bunny probably played a pretty dominant role in shaping your idea of what sorority life would be like. And, if you were like the majority of girls that rush here, you “never thought I would join a sorority until I came to Penn.” But, as cliché as that phrase has become on this campus, people say it for a reason. Sorority life at Penn is—under no circumstances—the dictator of your happiness, social life or friendships the way it is at some other schools. And you know it’s not, or you probably wouldn’t have rushed in the first place. But in the midst of all the “Thought Theta” and “Sweet Home Chi Omega” chants, that indifferent attitude can be easy to forget.
From a distance, it’s easy to laugh about rush and how we felt about the whole thing. But in the moment, we know it’s not that simple or easy to move on. One of us ended up in a house that was distinctly not where she thought she belonged. The other thought she liked the house she got into, then had a panic attack after bid night and quit altogether. Both of us are now exceptionally fulfilled and happy with our social lives. Your sorority (or lack thereof) will not dictate your life here unless you want it to.
Sororities can be a nice complement to your social life here. Most girls who are members would not cite getting a bid as among their proudest accomplishments here at Penn. Some people make some of their best friends through their chapters, but even then, it is likely that their sorority friends only make up a small portion of their social landscapes. It’s good to think of a sorority the way you think of any other extracurricular at Penn: a great way to spend time and make friends, but not the only way to do either of those things.
Let us be clear: you do not need to be in a sorority to be happy at Penn. And if you are in one, you absolutely do not need to be in the “right” one. Odds are, you don’t even know what the right one is yet.
So, if you are curled up in your twin XL reading this, vowing never to come out from under the covers and considering a leave of absence, listen to this. As cheesey as it may be, comparison is the thief of joy, and if you spend the next three years of your life comparing your Penn experience to that of others or to what you thought it should be like, you will be miserable. But, if you give what you have a chance, you will be surprised at how happy you end up being. And if you don’t have anything, we’ll give you something: come to 4015 Walnut Street tonight at 6:30p.m. Street is a family composed of people from all walks of Penn life, Greek and not Greek, and we found our people here. Maybe you will, too. A lot can happen in three years, and what happened last night will soon seem trivial in light of all that you will do here.
Besides, 80% of sorority apparel is ugly anyways.
Emily Johns, Editor–in–Chief
Mikaela Gilbert–Lurie, Managing Editor