How Sororities Work

Rush Basics

Bid day at the University of Southern
Bid day at the University of Southern
AP Photo/Steve Rouse

If you're considering going through rush, there are some sorority recruitment terms you might want to know:

  • Dirty rushing is forbidden at schools with a formal rush. Sorority members may not contact potential new members before or during rush before a bid is extended. Examples of dirty rushing include telling a girl during rush that she has a guaranteed bid to a certain sorority or buying a potential new member dinner.
  • Legacies are girls whose immediate family were members of the sorority. In most sororities, if someone's grandmother, mother or sister was a member of the sorority, she is called a legacy. Some sororities only consider a rushee a legacy if her mother was a member (and remains active as an alumna). Legacies are generally given preference during rush, but are not automatically guaranteed a bid.
  • Recommendations can also help a potential new member during rush. A current member or alumna of the sorority can write a recommendation with a picture and any personal information she feels might be helpful. Most university Greek life recruitment guides and FAQs say that recommendations aren't necessary, but they may give the rushee an edge.
  • Deferred rush is a formal recruitment process that occurs after classes have started; at many schools, formal recruitment commences before classes start, which some people think may distract students from their academics.
  • Continuous Open Bidding (COB) is an informal process for sororities to accept new members. COB usually occurs after a formal recruitment. Sororities that did not hit their quota might participate in COB. COB can also useful for a girl who did not want to participate in formal recruitment or who did not receive the bid she wanted.
  • The line is a name for the new member class of an NPHC sorority.

Each sorority has a different private way of voting for new members. It may be an open discussion between members of the sorority or a more confidential, written process. At the end of rush, when finalizing a list of desirable potential new members, voting members will likely discuss each rushee, pointing out why she would or would not match the sorority's values and desired attributes. With a large recruitment group, sometimes a computer algorithm can help by matching sororities and their favorite rushees with rushees and their preferred houses. For a smaller group of rushees, sorority members could simply discuss the merits of the potential new members among themselves and then hold a vote on each potential new member.

At many colleges, the sororities give out formal bids on one special day, which is called bid day. At some schools, potential new members dress in a particular way (white dresses, bright T-shirts) and go to the sorority house to spend time with their new sisters-to-be.