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Fashion Makes A Statement During Recruitment

Photos by Taylor Sanger/The Minaret

Fall sorority recruitment was on the minds of many ladies this past weekend, be it wide-eyed freshmen or seasoned upperclassmen. The chance at being a part of an exclusive organization and a sisterhood is a unique experience indigenous only to the college campus.

“It’s unlike anything else leading up to the collegiate level. It’s more than a student organization, it’s being in a community of 100 other women who share the similar morals, sense of service, focus on scholarship and personal growth,” said sophomore Kristen Anderson, Chief Recruitment Officer of Kappa Alpha Theta.

It’s an opportunity to make new friends, network and establish a support system away from home.

With five sororities to choose from this fall, the choice can be difficult. Potential members consider a sorority’s service initiatives, campus involvement and also their physical image. Particularly during recruitment, sororities go to great lengths to distinguish themselves aesthetically.

“For rush, sorority members wear the same uniform so that the focus is on our personalities rather than our appearance,” said Delta Zeta sophomore Emily Anderson.

“This makes it easier for potential members to remember our sorority, as it is clearly marked on our t-shirts.”

Delta Zeta, for instance, is clearly noted for their bright green and pink attire. Their sense of sisterhood is underscored by their physical uniformity.

“For chapter, we typically wear business attire. The goal is to look put together and presentable,” Chief Executive Officer of Kappa Alpha Theta, Ashley Khawam, said.

“It’s a habit to continue throughout college and into the business world. It is a form of respect for the legacy of your organization.”

Moreover, Anderson insists that, “It’s a confidence thing. When you are put together, you simply tend to perform better.”

For sorority events, sisters are often encouraged to conform to the same dress, color and style. This particularity of dress can be minute, as some sisters are asked to buy similar skinny black belts or the same patterned tote bag.  A sense of community can quickly turn to conformity. However, Anderson contends that this is not the case.

“The style of dress varies between every sister, even if we’re wearing the same dress. People wear different jeans, for instance, or accessories, to distinguish themselves. Our sorority is a very diverse set of girls.”

The diversity of dress among sorority sisters stresses the individual characteristics that compose the sisterhood. This aesthetic image varies between every sorority and undoubtedly has an influence on a potential member’s perception of a sisterhood.

In choosing a sorority, it is hard not to be swayed by looks. One rush participant, who requests to remain nameless, said that she can categorize a majority of sororities by level of physical attractiveness.

“Specific sororities have a certain look about them, and if you don’t look physically like they do or dress as they do, your chances of getting in are slim. It’s as simple as looking at the sisters.”

Some sororities are iconic for their hair color or their meticulousness of dress.

“It can be intimidating,” the potential member said. “We are all influenced by the image that the sororities present. They can project a confidence that can leave you in awe.”

This emphasis on image influences how some potential members approach the recruitment process. Another potential member says that “we are hyper-aware of how we dress during recruitment. I haven’t straightened my hair in over a year– today I did. Also, I’ve been thinking about what to wear for the past 72 hours. This is coming from a girl who lives in sweat pants.”

For the first day of recruitment, however, all potential members were given the same t-shirt, in hopes of dispelling such worries. Regardless of such efforts, this emphasis on aesthetics leads to the debate of superficiality and the recruitment process.

“Is recruitment superficial?” poses one rush participant. “Probably. Looks influence judgment. We turn to looks, to an extent, to speak on our behalf.”

Aesthetics only speak so loudly, Kappa Alpha Theta’s sophomore member Sarah Burke insists. “Honestly, we do not remember girls for their cute dress or their accessories. Sure, looking presentable will improve your prospects– it’s respectful and professional– but it is not what we focus on,” says the Chief PanHellenic Officer.

“Having women in uniform clothing isn’t intended to be intimidating,” said Kappa Alpha Theta Educational Leadership Consultant Alyssa Trumbull. “It’s intended to show that we are all a part of a greater whole.”

A sense of community is a keystone of sorority ethics, but recruitment is “not about who dresses like you,” Khawan insists. “It’s about who you connect with in a conversation and where you feel you can best develop.” For both parties, sorority participants and potential members, it is difficult not to be influenced by aesthetics. But “choosing a sorority is a personal choice,” said Anderson. “You don’t want to base your decision upon a superficial estimate of what a sorority stands for. You need to choose a sorority based on moral reasons, not fashion taste.”
Katelyn Edwards can be reached at katelyn.edwards@spartans.ut.edu

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