Nov. 24, 2014

Sororities should not be bumpin’

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September 1, 2014

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It’s week two at the College of William and Mary, meaning fraternities are mid-rush, and this coming Friday, sororities will be too. Regardless of whether you’ve been through the whole rush ordeal or not, you’re probably aware that much of the process is very superficial — looks, attire, ability to make meaningless small talk: they’re all taken into consideration.

I’m in a fraternity, and the point of this article is not to disparage Greek life in its entirety or even the rush process in its entirety.

After all, many of these same superficialities are how we choose our friends, regardless of circumstance. However, there is one aspect of sorority recruitment that I just recently became aware of, and which makes me uncomfortable: “bumping.”

According to Sororitygirl101.com — which I hopefully will never again have to use as a source — “bumping is a process used during formal recruitment to allow a smooth transition between the sorority girl who initially has picked up the PNM [potential new member] at the door and the next sister who has come into the conversation.”

Basically, Sorority Girl B bumps into the conversation that Sorority Girl A is having with the given PNM, allowing Sorority Girl A to talk to another PNM.

Bumping is not exclusive to the College, as sororities all over the country practice it. It makes sense: Sororities are big, and bumping, I’m sure, makes getting to know PNMs much more efficient. But that this process has a name, and that sororities spend time practicing their bumping, is a bit discomforting, even though it is not entirely surprising. It feels like something taken out of  “The Stepford Wives.”

Besides the chill that the word sends up my spine, the problem with bumping and, more generally, with intricately planning social interactions, is that it doesn’t leave much room for the spontaneity in which the magic of friendships lies. Rather, bumping is indicative of the part of Greek life that I most dislike: the commodification of friendships.

Abstractly, rush is a period in which each Greek organization aims to make more new friends and friends who are in some nebulous way better than the new friends every other Greek organization is making. Bumping strikes me as a commonly held business practice in which PNMs become anonymized objects, spinning along a paisley — or perhaps better read as “pasty” — conveyor belt. And the irony is that the process is one with a purported purpose of getting to know individuals who might be right for the club.

But how is it possible to get to know someone if you can only talk to them for minutes before someone bumps you out of the conversation? Why not just digitize the whole process? It could be like Greek Tinder, where sisters look through a few high quality mirror selfies, read a bio, chat a bit and ultimately either swipe left or right.

Besides being more efficient, Greek Tinder would spare sororities and PNMs all the uncomfortable parts of rush, from dressing up to remembering names. And perhaps best of all, as long as each sister has the app, there would be no need to bump another sister out of a conversation; instead, each sister could have autonomy over her own swiping.

Email Max Cea at mrcea@email.wm.edu.

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About Author

Max Cea

Associate Online Editor Max Cea '15 is currently undeclared. He was previously Associate Opinions Editor.

(5) Readers Comments

  1. #rude
    September 2, 2014 at 8:34 PM

    Actually the bump process is to allow the potential new member the ability to meet many girls in the chapter while removing the pressure from the potential new member. Wouldn't be more stressful to be standing in a corner and wondering who you should talk to and when and all the nervousness that comes from highly social interactions. As the process continues you talk to the girls for longer periods of times and if you enjoyed talking to a girl, speak to her again in order to develop these relationships in a fair and less stressful manner.

  2. Fraternity Man
    September 2, 2014 at 10:32 PM

    There are plenty of questionable aspects of sorority rush (dress review) but this doesn't strike me as that weird. It's just practicing transitions that allow for less awkward interactions with as manat people as possible. A little awkward, yes, but worthy of harsh reproach, no.

  3. FlatHatFailsAgain
    September 2, 2014 at 11:08 PM

    The fact that this article was written by a fraternity man is obvious in almost every sentence. Like most men and women who have not experienced sorority recruitment, Max Cea clearly has no concept of how sorority recruitment truly functions, and it is a shame that Flat Hat readers may become equally misinformed thanks to him. From his perspective, sorority recruitment is a superficial process, thus the purpose of bumping must be a way for chapter members to judge as many women as possible in the most efficient way. This opinion could not be more wrong. To clarify, "bumping" is a process that allows potential new members to meet as many women in a chapter as possible and is beneficial to both her and the chapter. For the PNM, she is able to make introductions to a wide variety of women within each chapter, thus allowing herself the ability to make an informed decision as to whether this chapter is composed of women with whom she would like to affiliate. Sororities at W&M are composed of more than 90 women and, due to time constraints, women only have the opportunity to spend approximately 30 minutes at each house per round--if a PNM was only given the opportunity to speak with one or two women in each chapter each day, she would not be able to get an accurate picture of the chapter as a whole. One woman does not reflect the personality of the entire chapter, just as one conversation between a PNM and a specific chapter member is not necessarily indicative of the quality of the match. Mr. Cea seems to be of the impression that sorority recruitment is a one-sided process in which sororities speed through PowerPoints and select their pledge classes with little to no input from the PNM. In reality, recruitment is a mutual-selection process in which BOTH parties are inputting their preferences in pursuit of making the best possible match. Furthermore, the purpose of recruitment is not to make your best friends over the course of two weekends. It is to bring together like-minded women who share similar goals and passions in the hope that belonging to the same organization will allow meaningful relationships to develop in time. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that the Flat Hat has allowed contributors to write grossly misinformed opinion articles about the Greek community, nor will it be the last. Perhaps next time, Mr. Cea will reach out to the Panhellenic Council for information concerning sorority recruitment instead of referencing an arbitrary website he happened to stumble across by accident. Here's hoping.

  4. Max Cea
    September 2, 2014 at 11:54 PM

    I don't like commenting on articles, or even reading comments under articles, but: To any sorority girl, or outsider, who feels that I have misrepresented the rush process or in any way painted an unfair picture -- I would be happy to sit down with you over a cup of coffee and hear you out. If you convince me that I made a grievous error and misinformed readers, the coffee will be my treat and I'll make some sort of statement telling the world (read: the not-so-big Flat Hat readership) that I was wrong.

    • Kyle Gill
      September 3, 2014 at 8:31 AM

      Using the comment section to get coffee dates

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