In-person rush, living in sorority houses fosters community

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Cameron Krasucki

The Chi Omega sorority house is a part of the panhellenic organization and one of the many houses that fosters community within students especially because of this year’s in-person rush process.

By Liz Gremer, Staff Writer

As the new year of classes began in August, members of sorority houses moved in and began to prepare for the fall 2021 rush. In comparison to last year’s virtual fall and spring rush, this year was a hybrid session.

As the houses prepare to open up their homes to new members, the importance of being in person and staying COVID-19 safe were top priorities, Lauren Kowalski, sophomore in LAS, said.

Prior to returning to campus, COVID-19 regulations were put in place for girls who were living in houses, such as required vaccination or testing if one is not vaccinated. In both Kowalski and Melody Reyes’ houses, all members that are living in them have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

However, in the weeks leading up to in-person rush, COVID-19 infection rates increased and specific rush rules were set in place in each sorority house. Reyes, sophomore in LAS, house, said in her house, all guests are required to wear masks and members must test if they begin to feel sick or show symptoms.

During rush, potential new members, or PNMs, found the rules to create a safe environment and felt safe throughout the process, Natalie Carlisle, freshman in Engineering, said.

“I felt pretty safe,” Carlisle said. “They organized the talking in a way that you had the same few people that you would be talking with throughout the rounds. Overall, I felt fine with how rush was handled in regard to COVID.”

Kowalski said the in-person events of rush are vital to the process.

“I think that it was very important to meet individuals in person so that they can get the whole vibe of the house,” Kowalski said. “By being in person, even though we had individual conversations, PNMs were able to see the rest of the chapter and get the full experience of Chi Omega.”

By allowing PNMs to come to the houses in person, Reyes said the rush process felt easier in comparison to last year.

“I think that having girls come to the house is so much better than online rush,” Reyes said.  “It’s less awkward than talking over Zoom on a screen and feels more natural and comfortable.”

Throughout the rush experience, being able to have PNMs in the house was an advantage in comparison to virtual rush. Being able to show off the house and its perks is helpful, Kowalski said.

“I think that seeing the physical house was great for PNMs,” Kowalski said. “Location is something that is very important, especially since many houses have live-in requirements, so seeing the actual building may have impacted some individuals’ opinions.”

Most sorority members live in the house during their second year of membership. After living in a dorm freshman year, Kowalski enjoyed living in the house more.

“Living with 51 girls has actually been very fun, and it has been a lot more inviting of an environment than I would first expect,” Kowalski said. “I do prefer it to the dorm because I get to live with all of my friends, and I have really gotten close with the girls who are living in.”

Living in a sorority house provides members an opportunity to live with fellow members and have experiences that make it appealing, Reyes said. 

“I love the old house feel that it has to it, it makes it cozier and feel more like home,” Reyes said. “I prefer it to the dorm 100%. It is so much homier and cozier in comparison to the dorm since you know that you vibe with everyone who’s there.”

The environment at the house also encourages sorority members in an academic sense, Kowalski said. In her house, there is a silent study room furnished with 12 cubical-style desks that come with charging ports, long tables and white boards.

“My favorite memory is honestly very mundane, but it would have to be sitting in our group study room at 2 a.m. doing organic chemistry with about five other Chi Omegas,” Kowalski said. “It was so memorable because we all were doing some stressful work, but we were able to do it all together and it made the work less stressful.”

Although Carlisle has only been a member of her sorority since Sept. 13, she can already see herself living in next year and being able to have that experience. 

“My parents both did Greek life at UIUC, so they really want me to be involved, and I want to be involved in it too,” Carlisle said. “I’ve heard a lot of good things about living in, so I can imagine myself doing that next year.”

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