Kappa Kappa Gamma girls dress up in the theme "Blue Hot." Credit: Mira Bannai / Courtesy

At Cal Poly, two consecutive weekends in late September and early October are dedicated to the action-packed process of Greek life rush. Potential new members (PNMs) get the opportunity to visit each sorority house and connect with people already involved in Greek life. Rush is wrapped up on bid night when people find out which sorority house they get to call home.

Business sophomore and member of Kappa Kappa Gamma Miya Bannai described her freshman rush experience as both stressful and marked by everyone relying on energy drinks because of exhaustion. 

Rush was “very long and tiring but you get to meet a lot of new people,” Bannai said. The advice she would give to someone going through rush for the first time would be to “ keep an open mind and be present and enjoy the process.”

However, what triumphed over Bannai’s nervousness and exhaustion was the excitement she felt about getting to meet so many new people and finding a sorority she connected with, she said.

Similar feelings of nervous excitement surrounded Alta Murray, a sophomore in Chi Omega, during her freshman year rush. Murray was indecisive when narrowing down her list of sororities because of the fast paced process of rush. 

“[It was] difficult only being able to talk to a limited number of girls in a short amount of time and having to judge a sorority based on that,” Murray said. 

While navigating the rush scene, Murray was also acclimating to living in a brand new state, starting college and making new friends. 

“[Rush] definitely added to the overwhelming nature of this time period,” she said.

Now, as sophomores settled into their surroundings, routine and respective sororities at Cal Poly, participating in rush the second time around held brand new experiences for both Murray and Bannai. They felt they could appreciate rush in a different light by learning more about the methodology behind the entire process.

Work week

Preparation for rush started during a pre-school “work week.” Work week encompassed long days focused on media content, etiquette, trial runs and the anticipation of sisterhood events.

Bannai deepened her connection with the people within her sorority and developed a greater sense of appreciation for the process of work week. 

“I was scared at first but getting to socialize and meet everyone in my PC (pledge class) was super fun,” Bannai said. “I got to see how much work and time those leading work week put into it and I wanted to be present and dedicated because of that.”

During work week, Bannai’s days began at 9 a.m. and concluded at 3 p.m. Others spent even longer time working, with Murray’s days spanning around 10 hours. Part of this time was dedicated to crafting media content that captured the essence of their sorority, with themes like “Keeping Up With The Kappas” or “Despicable KKG.” 

Miya Bannai (left) and Aviv Benzeev (right) dress up in the theme “Despicable KKG.” Photo Courtesy of Mira Bannai

Media was a big part of curating a sorority’s image because it served as a first impression for many PNMs. However, Bannai said practicing etiquette and professionalism was also important to uphold the reputation of their sorority. 

“[I had to] do in person dress checks, [and] recruitment chairs would make sure all the dresses looked nice, professional and matched the color assignments,” Bannai said. 

There was an additional focus on learning how to foster inclusivity during rush. During Murray’s long days, lots of time was designated to practicing inclusive conversation. Her sorority emphasized learning to communicate with different personalities, instilling the importance of trying to relate to people about anything possible and being kind no matter what.

“Some people are not interested in being in your certain sorority, but acting happy that they are there is a big thing,” Murray said. 

Naturally throughout work week people got to know their pledge class better. From KKG’s pool party to Chi Omega’s house sleepover, sisterhood events were simultaneously a motivating incentive during work week and a vital bonding experience. 

Bannai went from knowing around half the people in her class to knowing all of them. 

“You spend a lot of hours, maybe eight plus everyday, with your sorority,” Bannai said. “It was a good experience and while it was time consuming, the bonding aspect made it very rewarding.” 

The extensive preparation during work week paid off, resulting in the largest turnout in Cal Poly history with around 1,100 people participating in sorority rush. Even more demanding than the hours of work week were those of rush. The process of rush, however, was strategically organized to be effective and time-efficient.

Rush week

Within each sorority, every member engaged in conversations with 10 to 20 potential new members daily. After these interactions, sorority members joined their fellow members who belonged to the same “bump groups.” 

Typically, there were about five members in each bump group, and they conversed with the same PNMs. These bump groups helped potential new members gain a better understanding of the sorority’s atmosphere.

“Bump groups let them (PNMs) meet multiple people in a sorority and get to know multiple personalities. It also puts less stress on members since multiple girls are responsible for creating an impression and it is not just like on me or one person,” Murray said.

Bump groups also streamlined the end-of-day voting process, ensuring that multiple perspectives were considered when determining if a potential new member was a good fit for a specific sorority.

Despite the well-structured rush system, the process of selecting new members based on compatibility was time-consuming. Both Bannai and Murray would get to their sorority houses around 7 a.m. and never leave before 11 p.m.

Bid Night

Finally on “Bid Night” invitations to join a sorority are extended to new members. Feelings of accomplishment and anticipation surrounded all the people as rush came to a close and bid night began.

“I was so proud of my members’ hard work and felt really excited about the class of new members we recruited,” Murray said. “It was so fun watching them arrive and run to our house.”