First-years offer mixed reviews on first in-person rush process since pandemic

First-years were able to rush in person at the beginning of winter term


Lilah Kimble

Two of Washington and Lee’s sororities were investigated on hazing allegations. File photo by Lilah Kimble, ‘23.

Abby Kim, Staff Writer

In-person formal recruitment for Greek organizations took place earlier this month at Washington and Lee for the first time since the pandemic began. Some students said the process needs improvement.
The recruitment process, also known as rush, is a major part of Greek life on campus. Rush determines the new classes of members for the active six Panhellenic sororities and 12 fraternities at Washington and Lee. Informal rush occurs throughout fall term, while formal rush happens at the beginning of winter term.
The university reports that approximately 74% of students are members of Greek organizations, including 73% of women and 76% of men. All sororities and fraternities on campus must adhere to the recruitment guidelines set by the Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils.
Leah Beard, the Panhellenic campus adviser and the director of leadership development and student engagement, said that rush has evolved since the COVID-19 pandemic. For the first time since 2020, rush happened entirely in-person.
Some first-years said they felt satisfied with the process, while others have expressed frustration.
Darby Burgett, ’26, wrote that she felt generally content with the experience.
“Rush was a busy, yet fun process,” Burgett said in a text message. “It was definitely overwhelming visiting all the houses in one day, but I’m glad we got to before making any selections.”
Others said rush needs more transparency.
“Rush to me was a lot of fun. I loved getting to know people and talking to a ton of people I have never met on campus,” said a first-year student, who requested anonymity due to fear of social retribution from members of Greek life. “With that in mind, it definitely could have been improved. A good majority of the sororities, even if they can’t openly admit it, already have a lined up group of girls they’re ready to initiate.”
Rho Gammas are members of Greek Life who briefly disaffiliate to support first-years during rush. Several first years praised their abilities in helping them during the process.
“My Rho Gammas were super sweet,” Burgett said. “I’m glad I had the Rho Gammas that I did, because I felt comfortable talking to them, especially as I was going through the rush process directly.”
Ohers said they felt more neutral about their Rho Gammas.
“I felt my Rho Gammas were decent. There could have been more improvement with creating a connection on a personal level, but overall they did their job and everything worked out,” an anonymous first-year said.
Many trying to rush this year found difficulty in navigating the recruitment process.
“I thought the process was pretty confusing to be honest,” said another first-year, who also requested anonymity. “My Rho Gammas were really helpful whenever I needed information, but it was kind of hard to get to know more about each sorority or the people.”
To participate in the rush process, the student said she needed to be fully active and take initiative in order to obtain the correct information, while others in her position were treated differently. In particular, she said rush dates–dates between current Greek Life members and first-years during the informal rush process–were a struggle to maneuver.
“They would have rush dates for a lot of people, but if they didn’t ask you to go on one, then they didn’t really tell you how to talk more with them,” the student said. “At first I thought I wasn’t showing enough interest, but it was hard to do that when they didn’t have any particular events or activities. Either way, I don’t think that would’ve made much of a difference, because I know people who didn’t do anything different than I did that went on more rush dates.”
Joyce Yoo, ’26, said that she also found it hard to make new connections during rush.
“I’ve heard some people had difficulties getting to meet new people from different sororities, but it wasn’t really their fault since they didn’t have too much control over the rush dates besides sharing contact information with the sororities,” Yoo said.
Now that rush has ended, Beard offered advice to those who will soon be inducted into Greek life.
“My advice to all new members of Greek life is to get to know everything about the organization and make as many connections within their new members class, and with current members, as possible,” Beard said. “I would also encourage students to continue to maintain friendships with others in different Greek organizations and students who are not affiliated.”