I can hear it now – thousands of girls frantically running the halls, the ringing of elevator doors, the grunts of lifting futons up and down eight flights of stairs.
It's move-in day at Tennessee, and for many of these girls comes sorority recruitment a few hours later.
After sweating for hours hauling their personal belongings from floor to floor, these girls jump headfirst into one of the more stressful weeks I have personally experienced.
Exhausted, they visit 13 chapters in order to find which one matches with their personality enough to be a home for them, and then are asked to judge how they envision their future selves on a mere 15 minutes of conversation.
This difficult process can become emotional for the girls, who may just want an opinion from someone who has gone through the situation they are dealing with or something similar.
This year I chose to be a Gamma Chi, which, for those of you who are not up to par with sorority slang, is a recruitment counselor for these girls going forward with Rush Week. Although this job may seem easy, or a way for sorority members to get out of actual recruitment, it is far from that.
This process is a way for chapter members to invest in the lives of the potential new members and truly humble themselves for the betterment of Greek life at UT. These things can be a positive, but at the same time, there are many trying moments in the process of recruitment.
Our world becomes a bubble as Gamma Chi's can only speak to those participating in the program. Throughout classes, buying books, grocery shopping and sending the girls through rounds, a Gamma Chi is required to disaffiliate and detach themselves from every aspect of their previous chapter.
I once thought the saying, "we give up our letters so you can find yours," seemed cliché, but the phrase now holds a powerful meaning to me.
I believed the process of disaffiliating would be a breeze, but it has been a struggle beyond compare. There is exhaustion, dehydration and lack of sleep all compounding upon the 100-plus girls in Gamma Chi who put on a smile every day and encourage the potential new members.
Not only are we a shoulder for those girls, but there is also the requirement of attending class and carrying on the normal life outside of the recruitment process.Regardless of the constant stress placed on the women in this program, I have to say, from personal experience, that the outcome far outweighs the daily struggle.
To be able to invest in the lives of these girls who are searching for a place of acceptance and like-minded people has been one of the more humbling things I have ever done.And for as much pressure as we Gamma Chis are under, the most important part of the process is the incoming girls.
These young women are faced with the standard trials every freshman/sophomore faces, yet they are asked to visit multiple chapters each night for hours of interviews, all with the pressure of making an impression.
The constant demand for a smile on their faces and joy in their hearts is inevitable, but when faced with rejection, the potential new members can get emotional.They need comfort in a time of pain; That is why there are Gamma Chis to love on these hurting women and give an unbiased opinion.
I thought Gamma Chi may have been something to try out – offering a different point of view on recruitment – but it has been far more than that to me.It has been an experience of uniting the Greek community, where our diverse chapter background fails to halt our care for one another.
Not only have we had the ability to influence these women, but they have influenced us and helped us grow closer to one another.That relationship is well worth the trials faced.
Annie Blackwood is a junior in communication studies. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.