How TikTok Became Obsessed With American Sorority Life

Greek letters, regal mansions adorned with Doric columns and thousands of preppy girls in coordinated outfits: welcome to sorority rush, the annual American university experience that has become one of TikTok’s most viral trends.

The University of Alabama’s sorority rush week first exploded on the platform last August, as excitable PNMs (potential new members, to you and me) posted videos about the process. It quickly turned into a kind of pretty-in-pink The Hunger Gamestempting avid viewers from around the world to tune in as the girls tried to join their “sisters” at Phi Mu, Zeta Tau Alpha and Alpha Chi Omega.

TikTok content

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Now, the viral videos are back, with girls’ dances, GRWMs and OOTDs delighting a whole lot of users; the #bamarush tag currently has 1 billion views. We’re taken along on their rush journeys, starting with work week (where current members spend a few days before the main event planning their recruitment conversations, chants and parties, all while wearing coordinated themed costumes, from pastel-coloured ensembles for “Candyland ” to sequin chaps and cowboy boots for “Round ‘Em Up”) and ending on bid day, when successful PNMs run home to their houses and are officially accepted into the fold.

In between, PNMs are subjected to convocation (introductions), “Ice Water Teas” (informal meets at each house), philanthropy (where the sororities promote their chosen charity), sisterhood (a chance to sit down with certain houses), and preference night (the most formal event, where a PNM chooses her top house and the sorority ranks her in return).

TikTok content

This content can also be viewed on the site it originates from.

This year’s videos seem less personable, the trials and tribulations of the process as detailed by PNMs replaced with idyllic dancing clips from active members. It comes amid alleged pressure from the notoriously secretive National Panhellenic Conference to limit what the girls post, and could also explain rumors circulating online that HBO Max and Netflix are trying to produce a documentary about rush but are being met with a wall of silence from the Greek system – because, in the eyes of the girls taking part, posting on social media is not worth the risk of getting dropped.

For if there’s a list of five dos for girls hoping to join a sorority, there’s a longer one of absolute don’ts. It’s acceptable to talk to active members about your summer spent holidaying in Europe, but avoid too much mention of your boyfriend; fill your rush bag with portable fans and an umbrella, but don’t pack chewing gum; and finally, never, ever mention the five Bs. Curious? Different sororities have different definitions, but they’re widely taken to mean boys, booze, bucks, Bible and Biden.

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