Her shoes? Steve Madden. Earrings? Kendra Scott. Her bracelets are from Shein; her bag, Target. Oh, and her necklace is “normal”. It’s Pre Night.
If this combination of words means anything to you, you’ve probably watched sorority videos on TikTok. If not, no problem – there’s still time to figure out the rhythms and codes of RushTok, one of the platform’s latest viral hits.
The trend broke through last week during the slum rush at the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, but continues today in the form of parody videos, deep dives on the status of various recruits, and rush videos of women at other colleges across the country who just start the process yourself.
For those just gaining weight, here’s what you need – or better yet, maybe want – to know.
Okay, you got me. What is sorority rush and why are there so many outfits for it?
“Rush” is the informal name for the recruitment process of Greek organizations on university campuses. In the case of RushTok, most users talk about the specific experience of rushing the traditionally white sororities that make up the National Panhellenic Conference.
At the University of Alabama, this tightly choreographed series of events kicks off about a week before school starts: Freshmen head to their dormitories early in hopes of getting an “offer” from one of the university’s 17 sororities.
The Alabama rush process consists of four main rounds of events: an Open House, where potential new members (PNMs) get to know all the different sororities; Philanthropy Day, where PNMs learn about – but do not actually participate in – each chapter’s volunteer work; a Sisterhood round, where PNMs carefully spend one-on-one time with various sororities; and Pref Night, where PNMs visit their favorite two homes.
It all culminated for Alabama PNMs and sorority members last Sunday with Bid Day — when PNMs officially accept bids to join a sorority. According to AL.com, 2,501 women attended Open House events this year, and 2,307 of them ended up getting bids (that’s a 92 percent success rate).
Each round of recruiting has a specific dress code, and so PNMs show up on campus with suitcases full of potential outfits. (Alabama’s Panhellenic website offers suggestions: For Pref Night, for example, PNMs are advised to wear a dress appropriate for “a graduation or daytime wedding.”)
Many freshmen have documented the entire experience on TikTok in the form of “OOTD” videos, which have racked up millions of views on the platform.
Understood. What is an OOTD?
That’s ‘outfit of the day’. Pan-Hellenic organizations discourage freshmen from sharing details on social media about their recruiting experience (including which houses they like best, or which girls they don’t like), but showing off outfits for rush is fine.
Thus, the Bama Rush OOTD trend was born. The videos are uniform and enchanting: the women, most of whom have Southern accents, simply explain what day it is and what brands they wear, from earrings to shoes.
Frequently cited brands include a mix of fast fashion and designer labels: Michael Kors, Shein, Steve Madden, Kendra Scott, LoveShackFancy and Hello Molly. There is also the Pants Store, a store with several locations in Alabama that basically sells more than pants.
And then there are the elements of an outfit that aren’t so easily tagged by brands: shoes borrowed from a roommate, T-shirts gifted in the rush process, and “normal” or everyday jewelry. (Maybe you got it from your mom, maybe you got it from Nordstrom.)
Why are these videos so popular? People seem really invested in the outfits and lives of these students they don’t even know.
Many users report seeing Bama Rush videos for the first time on their “For You” page, which is curated by TikTok’s mysterious algorithm. There’s no way to say for sure why these kinds of videos took off on the platform, but the stars of Bama Rush do resemble other big TikTok personalities: they’re mostly white, thin women showing off their outfits.
As for why people are so invested, even the stars of RushTok aren’t sure. In a video posted to Pref Night, a freshman at Auburn University named Blake Wright who uses the #BamaRush hashtag addressed her growing TikTok like this: “Thank you for being so invested and so sweet all week. Honestly if this was on my ‘For You’ page I would love it keep scrolling cause this is just too much for me Anyway if you guys enjoy watching then I’m complaining not.”
According to a video she posted on Bid Day, Ms. Wright accepted a bid from Pi Beta Phi.
So, what does it take to get into one of these sororities?
It depends who you ask. On its website, the university’s pan-Hellenic organization describes itself as “the largest and most diverse Greek community in the country.” But it wasn’t formally desegregated until 2013, after the student newspaper reported that black freshmen were still being turned down bids during that year’s recruiting process. Since then, the diversity between chapters has increased, albeit not much.
Another barrier to sorority membership at Bama (and many, many other schools) is cost: just signing up for rush requires a $350 fee, and dues can go up to $4,978 per semester. That excludes expenses such as living in a college dorm (average $7,465.17 per semester, according to the Alabama Panhellenic Association), new dresses for date parties, flights to the Caribbean for spring break, and an endless stream of $25 T-shirts to socialize with. commemorate events.
So joining a sorority is expensive. Are RushTok’s stars making money from their videos?
Some have certainly earned enough followers to book sponsorship deals if they wanted to. But the brands have been able to cash in faster. The jewelry brand Kendra Scott, which has been name-controlled in too many RushTok videos, has capitalized on the spotlight by posting its own semi-viral TikToks. The brand has since reported an increase in web traffic from new users in the coveted 18-to-24 demographic.
Good for Kendra Scott. Now that Bama Rush is over, will I ever have to think about this again?
Bama Rush may be over, but Ole Miss Rush is just getting started.