If you have been on TikTok over the past week, you may be feeling a strange sense of déjà vu. Watching incoming freshmen at the University of Alabama going through the sorority recruitment process, it’s safe to say that #BamaRushTok is back and better than ever.
For those blissfully unaware of the world of #RushTok, let me take a moment to explain. In August last year, University of Alabama students went viral during Rush, the annual week-long sorority recruitment process. These potential new members (or “PNM’s,” for short) documented their experience visiting different sorority houses, attending social events and meeting current members. At the end of Rush, PNMs rank each house, and sorority sisters do the same for applicants. All of this leads up to “Bid Day,” where PNMs are officially invited to join a sorority. Got it?
In the year since Bama Rush first skyrocketed to virality, it seems that not much has changed in the world of #RushTok. Much like their predecessors, the second generation of Bama girlies are going viral for sharing their outfits of the day, posting “what’s in my rush bag” videos, and vlogging their experiences of recruitment. At the time of publication, #BamaRush has accumulated over 1.5 billion views, with other hashtags like #BamaRushTok at 522 million.
With internet users embracing a new class of PNMs, Bama Rush enthusiasts are living out their sorority dreams once again. TikTok user @ellette.diaries even went on to post a video breaking down the “it girls” of “Season 2,” listing Gracyn (@gracynedmodsonnn), Shelby (@shelby.rose4), Kylan (@kylan_darnell) and Grant (@grantelisikes) as some of the PNMs to watch.
Known for being a ~material girl~, Kylan seems to be this year’s main character.
“Guess what day it is today? Bid Day,” Kylan says in a video filmed in what appears to be her dorm room. “My shoes are Burberry, my skirt is Aritzia, and so is the top… my jewellery is from Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Kendra Scott and Pandora.”
The videos shared by Kylan, like many of the other Bama girls, are garnering plenty of positive comments from Rush Tok enthusiasts.
One viewer commented, “I’m so invested in this, you have NO idea 😭❤️”
Another wrote, “She needs to run for Mrs USA she’s like so cute 🥺😭🤍”
While many TikTok users are simply enjoying following this new group of PNMs, others haven’t forgotten about the classism, racism and sexism associated with Bama Rush.
The University of Alabama only ordered its sororities to desegregate in 2013, after years of Black students alleging that the Greek Life recruitment process is racist and discriminatory. While overt racism may be outlawed, things haven’t gotten much better.
Remember Makayla Culpepper (@whatwouldjimmybuffettdo)? After completing most of Rush last year, Makayla revealed that every sorority had dropped her. Being one of the only women of colour in Bama Rush Tok’s inaugural year, many TikTok users believed she did not receive a bid because of her race.
With most of the current PNMs appearing to be white women, Greek life continues to be wrought with problematic customs and traditions prioritising whiteness.
Beyond allegations of racism, this year’s Rush has prompted discussions around gender identity and Greek life. It all kicked off when trans student Grant Sikes started sharing her Bama Rush experience. Like many of the other girls, Grant went viral for posting OOTDs and get-ready-with-me-style videos.
However, Grant was dropped by every sorority before bid day.
“This recruitment journey is over for me. Being dropped from my last house this morning during primary recruitment at the University of Alabama doesn’t come as a surprise… I was dropped by every single one except two before day one,” she shared in an Instagram post. “I’m hopeful of a future where everyone is welcomed for just being themselves – everywhere.”
As Michelle Ruiz explains in Cosmpolitan, “Sororities and fraternities (and other single-gender organisations like the Girl and Boy Scouts) are exempt from the federal sex-discrimination law Title IX, so they’re legally allowed to discriminate based on sex.” With sororities and fraternities catering to cisgender women and men, Greek life excludes college students who do not subscribe to the traditional gender binary.
While it is worth noting that some sororities have policies welcoming trans members, there are many that bar such individuals from joining. With these institutions intentionally excluding trans, nonbinary and genderfluid students, Greek life breeds a dangerous environment on campus, one that perpetuates inequality and undermines the queer experience.
With more eyes on Bama Rush than ever before, the University of Alabama has the unique opportunity to challenge the outdated norms of Greek life on an unprecedented scale. However, as sororities continue to exclude PNMs based on their race and gender identity, it seems that Bama’s Panhellenic organisations are struggling to evolve.
Here’s to hoping that with TikTok shedding light on the true recruitment experience, Greek life catches up to 2022!