Written by Phoebe Porter
At a school like Elon University, the Panhellenic sorority recruitment process is fairly tame. There are three rounds, Philanthropy, Sisterhood–now Values–, and Preference, before bid day, taking up four days of the break between Winter term and Spring Semester. Elon students visit 9 Panhellenic houses on their first day and narrow down the number of houses they visit on each consecutive day, until, hopefully, they receive a bid from one. At larger institutions, like the University of Alabama, this process is almost entirely different. Girls going through recruitment spend nine days talking to the 19 sororities on Alabama’s campus.
In the past two years, “Bama Rush” has blown up on social media sites, particularly TikTok, documenting the recruitment process for PNMs– Potential New Members– at Alabama. People, myself included, found their For You Pages overrun with videos of girls showing off their outfits, explaining recruitment, or just generally talking about their experiences with the process. But what about these videos are so unique, and why do people care so much?
According to Rolling Stone, one of the main drivers of the popularity of Bama Rush is the wide reach of the TikTok algorithm. Videos from Alabama reached users in various parts of the country, to universities where the recruitment process looks very different, to former sorority girls reliving their time in their own organizations, to universities that don’t have recruitment at all. These videos even found users in other countries, where the novelty and even some confusion about Greek life captivated audiences.
Another factor in the popularity of these videos was the outfits. Girls would often take short videos every day, showing off their outfits and updating their newfound fans about every stage in the process. The clothing is one of the first things that initially drew in audiences. According to Vox, the peculiarity of southern sorority fashion is what really captivated audiences. Kendra Scott necklaces, clothing from The Pants Store, and “Normal” jewelry are all staples found in the wardrobes of these women, but are a completely new world for so many of the viewers.
Bama Rush TikTok offers a glimpse into the dynamic landscape of university life and Greek life in the digital age and highlights the power of social media in shaping the modern college experience. Only time will tell what the next recruitment season has in store, but it’s safe to say TikTok will give us a glimpse at the crazy process of Bama Rush once again.