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Cam Marston on Sorority Rush

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On this week’s Keepin’ It Real, Cam Marston describes the chaos of Sorority Rush that his daughter is now participating in.

Leni Riefenstahl is known today for her savvy efforts at creating Nazi propaganda during World War II. She constructed images that deeply influenced the masses, and today, many organizations who are hoping to gain followers, whether they know it or not, copy her manipulative techniques.

Big, bold, colored banners placed in highly visible places, showing the symbols and emblems of their group; pictures of frenzied crowds wildly cheering their leaders who stand waving, smiling, showing quiet confidence, their expression saying, “You should want to be with us. We’re the powerful. We’re the influential.” It’s incredibly manipulative.

I am, of course, talking here about sorority rush. My daughter arrived on her campus a week before rush began to assume her role as banner committee co-chair. Her team worked until the wee hours every morning painting the banner for use the follow day which was then hung from her sorority house’s balcony. Mind you, there were no rush-ees on campus.

The sorority sisters gathered on the house lawn in front of the banner late each afternoon. They wore costumes in the theme of the banner – Disney, Wizard of Oz, the Circus - for the sole purpose of taking pictures to post on Instagram. They were hugging each other, cheering, horsing around while laughing and smiling gratuitously. From what I saw, their goal was ten million pictures each day. The banner was then removed, crumpled and thrown in a corner, and the process began again for the next day.

Meanwhile on Instagram, the freshman females were stalking - figuring out which sorority looked most fun, which had the prettiest girls, which one they should aspire to. This whole tableau was done by each sorority to try and get an edge. They wanted to be the “cool” sorority, the leader. They wanted the freshman girls to want them so that sorority could have the “pick of the litter,” so to speak.

It was exhausting, my daughter said. And bear in mind, rush hadn’t started. The next week, when the freshman arrived, the intensity escalated.

This manipulative persuasion campaign, this carefully manufactured veneer, yielded a bumper crop of new best friends for my daughter’s sorority. It was a raging success. Bid day squeals heard from far away have become an Instagram meme like 5000 car tires simultaneously skidding to a stop. It’s insanity, but I loved hearing about it.

Those long hours, those late nights, and those friends working together forge the long-lasting friendships and memories my daughter and her friends will share. They’re the stories they’ll tell and retell throughout their life. Whenever people work together for a common goal and sacrifice to achieve it, a bond is created. My daughter told stories of the work she and her friends did. What I heard are the memories she’ll relive over and over again.

I'm Cam Marston, and I'm just trying to Keep It Real.

Cam Marston is the Keepin' It Real host for Alabama Public Radio.