By Erica Quinones
Music echoed into the night as sorority sisters and other curious students gathered for an evening of marshmallows and mingling at the Fall in Love with Sorority Life bonfire.
The bonfire — hosted by the Panhellenic Council — began at 8 p.m. on Sept. 2 at the campus quad firepit. Attending students mingled around the firepit, reconnecting with sorority sisters, meeting new and old friends, playing with the multiple dogs present, and roasting s’mores.
According to the President of Panhellenic Council, Alpha Chi Omega Sister, and senior Faith Waaramaa, much of the programming that the Panhellenic Council hosts in the fall includes Continuous Open Bidding (COB) events, which give bids to upperclassmen who have not yet rushed a sorority. However, events like the bonfire are also opportunities for sororities to meet and bond.
“I guess a lot of recruitment can put chapters against each other sometimes — not necessarily on our campus, but traditionally that’s kind of what happens. But bonding events allow us to realize how amazing all the sororities are and learn about each other…and it’s really great to get to know all the great women that are in sorority life on campus,” Waaramaa said.
Many attendees, such as Zeta Tau Alpha sister junior Andrea Petersen, came to the bonfire for that connection, both with current sorority sisters and potential pledges.
“I’m just excited to get to know everyone better, like Panhel as a whole…There are even some of my sorority sisters who I didn’t meet in person until this past week, and it’s been really great. You know, I call them my sisters, but I’ve never seen them in person, but now I finally can,” Petersen said.
Alpha Chi Omega Sister and junior Jo Robson was also excited to meet her sorority sisters through in-person interactions.
“We’re kind of starting new, and like half of our sorority doesn’t really know the other half at the moment. So, it’s going to be exciting, since we’re going to get to know each other,” Robson said.
The bonfire was not only an opportunity for current sisters to mingle, but for them to meet prospective pledges, and for pledges to learn more about sorority life.
Sophomore Mimi Cheston was one such student. After receiving a bid from Alpha Omicron Pi during the 2020-2021 school year, she decided to decline the invitation, because she did not have time to commit to rush nor did she feel as if she knew enough about the other sororities to decide.
“[Virtual recruitment] was not bad at all, but it was really hard to make a connection. I think that was another reason why I couldn’t accept my bid. I’m just very wary, and I’m very picky, so I want to make a connection first before I commit to anything,” Cheston said.
However, Cheston said engaging with sororities in-person changed her feelings regarding recruitment.
“It’s just easier to get to know people, and it’s a lot more fun. But it’s also just changed my perspective on sororities as a whole…back during COVID, I felt like that was just surface level, and this is a lot more mind-opening,” Cheston said.
While students like Cheston previously interacted with sorority life, new students also arrived to learn more about and connect with current sisters.
Freshman Adalayde West first became interested in sorority life on campus after hearing her Peer Mentor and others discuss Alpha Chi Omega during orientation. So, she and her girlfriend, junior and first-year student Jayla Draghici, came to learn more about sorority life.
“I think the impression we had is sororities are very much a thing for cis[gender] het[erosexual] girls, and we found out Alpha Chi Omega is much more queer-friendly than that, so that’s what drew us here. The possibility to be involved in this and not have to sacrifice our authenticity,” Draghici said.
The Panhellenic Council will host more in-person events — both indoors and outdoors — at which students can meet the sororities and learn about their philanthropies, according to Waaramaa.
Petersen encouraged freshmen to meet sorority sisters and rush because they can never know if they would enjoy sorority life until they try.
“I decided to rush literally the day before recruitment started, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and I never saw myself in a sorority,” Petersen said.
Photo by Izze Rios