Good or bad, the upcoming week and a half will be one of the most memorable of Leigh's life. She, along with 621 other women, will participate in sorority rush, which began Tuesday night with an orientation session. And though her name is not real, Leigh's hopes, fears, experiences and apprehensions most certainly are. For Leigh and many others, the whirlwind series of parties and decisions will be both exhilirating and difficult. She begins the process feeling excitement tinged with skepticism -- a process that will be all-encompassing. · While sorority rushes seem to get labeled as a "typical rush" at certain sororities, Leigh could probably fit in comfortably at any of the eight PanHel houses. Sitting comfortably on a couch in a residential lounge, the dark-haired College freshman dressed in faded jeans and a yellow sweatshirt chatted freely for over an hour about both herself and the next week and a half. Hailing from the Midwest, Leigh said she looked forward to coming to the Northeast for four years. "I'm very happy I'm here," she said. She thinks she's going to be a sociology major. "I came in thinking law school," Leigh said, but she found that sociology struck her the right way. Leigh chose the University for two different reasons. When she entered what she was seeking in a college into her high school guidance counselor's computer, the University was at the top of the list. More importantly, her older sister is also here, and she happens to be in a sorority. Leigh spent time at the house before she became a student at the University, but said she and her sister have been careful to observe the rules of rush, which require that no female freshman enter a sorority house before rush begins. She has seen the lobby of her sister's house for "maybe 30 seconds" since September. Leigh described her relationship with her sister as close, and knows it would mean a lot if they were in the same sorority. Leigh insists her sister has placed no pressure on her whatsoever. Still, her sister's house is one of those Leigh favors coming into rush. She enjoyed the orientation meeting -- her first real taste of rush -- and said it was interesting to hear what her "rho chi," or rush counselor, had to say. Though her rho chi group as a whole didn't really talk on Tuesday, they're meeting Friday to get to know each other. Leigh described the group of "10 women, give or take," as "pretty random." "I liked the fact that as rho chis [the sisters] are not affiliated with their houses," she said. "It's nice to know they're not going to be part of the selection process." Talking about the orientation session itself, Leigh said Delta Delta Delta sister and PanHel rush vice-president Jennifer Pollock ran the meeting well. "She didn't say a lot," Leigh said of the College senior,"but she said what needed to be said." And nothing surprised Leigh about the meeting because she had no expectations of it. She wasn't nervous about rush until the women entered Bodek Lounge. However, when she first saw the actual number of women rushing, she looked around and realized that everyone there hoped to get a bid as well. She felt then that it was going to be a very trying week. Leigh wants to be in a house, to be part of what she called "a group of people with a common purpose," though she had trouble putting her finger on what that purpose is. When she went home for Winter Break, her friends who attend schools such as Illinois and Michigan didn't stop raving about their sororities, some of which start pledging before the fall semester begins. Leigh recognizes that the sorority systems at bigger schools can be very different from the one at the University, but that fact doesn't faze her. "A sorority can make Penn seem a lot smaller," she said, explaining that the size of the school can become overwhelming at times. The 19-year-old also said a sorority is a good way for her to meet older people. She said meeting men was not a high priority in choosing a house, although she's glad that they have mixers with fraternities. Rush really gets into full swing on Saturday, when all eight sororities host Open House parties, where every woman rushing must visit each house. Leigh is "really worried" about Saturday because "it's just so long." She fears that exhaustion will set in, not only with the rushes but with the sisters in each house. "I liken it to the college application process," Leigh said. "You're trying to make a memorable and positive impression in a short amount of time." She was quick to point out one major fault she saw in the system. "[The time factor] forces it to be superficial . . . it's almost all first and second impressions," she said, adding "my friends and I have all been stressing about what to wear." Another rule of PanHel rush requires that every house take the same number of people -- usually around 45. In past years, this requirement has caused embarrassment for some houses unable to meet the quota. The rushes know rumors about houses, and everybody knows that one never makes quota. Leigh noted that nobody she knows is even considering that house, but that some women must, because they get a class of pledges every year. Yet Leigh sees advantages and disadvantages in having a large number of sisters in a sorority. "In any house I end up in," she said, "there will be people I like." But there will also be people that she doesn't like or get along with, and that bothers her a little. Because she is almost assured a bid at her sister's house, she feels less pressure than her friends. Still, she is nervous. "I think I can get a bid if I want one," she said. "But if all of my friends end up in the house I want to be in, [and I don't], it'll hurt a lot more."Comments powered by Disqus
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