For Those About to Rush (We Salute You)



#whyimnotanchored in 800 words

Anchored (Courtesy of Lauren Covalucci)
Anchored (Courtesy of Lauren Covalucci)

I love rush week. I have three roommates, and every night, all at once, we would
scramble to the mirror to fix our makeup (at our double sink — thanks, Pfoho!) and chat about
prospective sisters.

Then they left and I had the room to myself for a couple hours, which was also pretty

I’ve never rushed, I’m not affiliated, but I do occasionally pose with those stupid sorority
hand gestures because I’m a rebel and want to stick it to the man. On Harvard’s campus, Greek
life tends to be one of those things where you get it or you don’t, where you love it or find it
nauseating. I’ve managed to play a sort of middle ground, meeting a sizable chunk of my friends
directly through a sorority I’m not in.

Over the three-and-a-half years worth of rushes I’ve witnessed from behind the scenes,
the later ones have been a lot more fun. When my friends first started joining the blue and pink
and blue and more blue and black and gold ranks, it mostly just seemed stupid, probably because
they found out how much dues were shortly after they got in — I didn’t see the point in paying
for friends who would sing things at me and ‘like’ all of my profile pictures. (Note: I’m
obviously talking about the frats.)

It got better when I realized that the girls didn’t suck. I got to know everyone as they
were settling into the groups and figuring out where they fit into the social scheme of things. For
the majority, if you’ve gotten into the right sorority and are joining for the right reasons, fitting in
is similar to fitting into a swimming pool. I wouldn’t call it a difficult maneuver. They really just
want to love everybody and bake cookies together.

I did consider rushing when Alpha Phi came to campus, but I think I was overly bothered
by their mispronunciation of “phi” and the enormous chunk of time rushing rips out of your life.
(They call it ‘alpha-fee’ because apparently ‘fee’ sounds more feminine than ‘fie’. Come, now.) I
liked that the founding members would have the opportunity to set the tone of the group and
build a supportive, generous community. Alternately, I could rush the sorority that some of my
best friends were in. I had plenty of chances to rush.

And I’m glad I didn’t. I will warn you that not rushing isn’t for everyone. Some just can’t
live without paying dues, having a calendar full of social commitments, and participating in
dress-coded, color-coordinating rituals. Obviously I kid, but Greek life — despite being great in
general — can wind up not being a great place for a lot of people. I could never bring myself to
love the extra layer of social exclusivity on top of an already extraordinarily exclusive
community, even considering how much it benefits the girls who do make it into the tight-knit
group. I don’t like that there’s not a lot of help available for people who want to join and can’t
afford dues. I wonder how much impact Greek life has on people who don’t feel comfortable in a
gender-binary system, especially when they go to schools where being Greek is the only gateway
to a vibrant social life. I worry about the lack of racial diversity in the groups. I also don’t like
singing. These are all issues that can be fixed — for instance, I would be the first in line to rush a
sorority that picked up Journey and AC/DC sing-alongs instead of cutesy anthems. (If one of
those does exist: Guys, call me. Let’s talk.) A thousand people have written a thousand essays
about what’s wrong with the Greek system and lots of that is true. I’m looking forward to seeing
how, or if, the groups adapt themselves to criticism. They’ll have a future as long as college kids
want a place to feel included, so I hope they rise to the occasion.

I wish I were thoughtful enough person to forego rush for one of those valid ideological reasons. In actuality I just had no desire to spend a lot of time girl-flirting. Latching onto a mixed-gender community with a wider range of interests was a much better move for me. All communities self-select to some extent, but these ones are more aggressive about it than most.
The sidelines have been good to me, though. I’m lucky I got to participate without being in the
in-group itself and I’ve obviously benefitted second-hand from all friendships that got passed
along to me like the best kind of hand-me-downs. (Hi, friends! They’re probably mad at me.

Lauren Covalucci ’14 ([email protected]) is confused on how someone can be ‘amma’ — that’s
not a word.