All kinds of cliché college antics are connected to sorority and fraternity life. As with all stereotypes, things are not always as they appear. For some MU students, “Greek life” is at the core of their college experience. For others, it is something to avoid.
“My sorority experience was everything I wished it to be,” said Amy Hudson, Mizzou Delta Delta Delta alum. “If I could go back in time, I would not change a thing.”
Almost 35,000 students attend MU and nearly 22 percent, or more than 5,000, of them are Greek, according to Mizzou Undergraduate Admissions: Greek Life. Within the Greek community, there are 15 sororities.
Members are selected after going through The Panhellenic Association (PHA) Formal Recruitment (rush), a week-long process in August before classes begin for the fall semester.
Rush week is a hectic and often stressful period that begins with two days of “open house” visits for prospective members to visit the chapters and become familiar with the sorority houses. As the week progresses, the focus becomes learning what makes each house different. For instance, each house has its own primary philanthropy project, its own culture, its own definition of “sisterhood.”
“Tri-Delt’s philanthropy is St. Jude,” said Amy Hudson. “I became very passionate about our philanthropy, because I have a young niece that I care about and love very much and know that I would want others to help her if she were ill.”
During the Philanthropy Round, the women visit up to seven houses.
“Preference Day is the day where potential members are able to relax,” said Jill Rowland, senior member of the Delta Delta Delta sorority. “It was a sentimental day; the day when I finally realized Tri-Delt was the sorority for me.”
On Preference Day, potential members visit three or more houses that choose to invite them back. At the end of the day, the women rank their top three houses.
According to Rowland, as the last day — known as Bid-Day — approaches, potential members patiently wait for their phones NOT to ring. If their phones do not ring, they know they are in one of the top three sororities that they “preffed.”
“Tri-Delt was the only house that I chose to ‘pref,’ so when I realized I did not receive a call on that Saturday morning, I knew I was in and couldn’t have been any more excited,” Rowland said.
According to many rushers, Bid Day is the most exciting of the days as everyone lines up at the Mizzou columns to see what their Bid Day cards say.
Traditionally, after the rushers open their Bid Day cards, they sprint to their houses where the active members greet them with open arms, shower them with gifts, and take pictures of them and their new “home.”
The vast majority of MU students do not participate in “Greek Life.” For some, the stress of rush week and the bid process are not an attractive option.
“The sorority life didn’t even cross my mind when transitioning to college,” said Katy Stoecklein, freshman animal science major. “I think it works great for some people, but I have found other organizations that work better for me and my interests.”
Breanna Hemmel, senior and president of Zeta Tau Alpha said joining a sorority changed her life for the better.
“I have found a sound confidence in myself that I truly believe no other organization or experience could have given me,” Hemmel said.
Even though she has flourished in Zeta, Hemmel admitted that her recruitment experience was not “smooth sailing.” Hemmel explained her rush experience was rather stressful. The sorority her mother was in did not invite her to join and follow in her mother’s footsteps. At the time Hemmel was devastated, but she later realized it happened for a reason.
“I thought, coming into recruitment, that house was the right choice for me,” Hemmel said. “However, during my recruitment experience, I never felt more at home than I did when I was at Zeta.”
Hemmel understands Greek life is not for everyone; however, she said she strongly believes becoming active in a chapter will help you find your place within your sorority. Hemmel said that as she has become more involved in her sorority’s activities, she has discovered friendships that will last a lifetime. . She believes Zeta holds the true definition of sisterhood behind its doors and knows it will continue on eternally.
“I have no doubt that I will continue to have a part in this organization after graduation,” Hemmel said. “Zeta has taught me that it’s not just college, but this organization is a bond that lasts a lifetime.”
While Hemmel found her niche within Mizzou by becoming Greek, Mackenzie Hamacher, senior business major at Mizzou, is living proof that fairytales do not always come true. As a freshman, Hamacher was ecstatic to go through rush and find the sisterhood that everyone always talks about; when she received that call on Bid-Day saying she had not been invited back to any house, everything changed for her.
“I drove all the way back to my hometown when I received the call that morning,” Hamacher said. “My heart was broken, but I know it worked out for the best in the end.”
Hamacher said she is still a little bitter about not receiving a bid but thinks it made her a better person. As an upcoming spring graduate, Hamacher said she has made plenty of friends during her time at Mizzou and that she has had an incredible experience, regardless of the struggles she might have faced during rush week.
“My advice for girls that did not get a bid, or in the future do not get one, is to keep smiling and stay beautiful,” Hamacher said. “Being in a sorority is fun, but it isn’t everything. I had a big group of friends that were all Greek, and I was the only one that wasn’t. I still had a blast and you will too! Mizzou is great, and college is great! Enjoy it.”