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Sunday, March 07, 2021

For Kayla Griffin, the second time around is the charm. After quitting rush week last year, she came back to school this year with the confidence to go Greek.

Griffin was one of 1,200 girls who rushed to join one of UF's sorority chapters during the Panhellenic Council's recruitment week. Rush week began Aug. 18 and ended Monday with the sororities making bids for the strongest candidates.

As a sophomore, Griffin felt better prepared to tackle the intensity of rush week, which proved too stressful her freshman year.

"It was pouring the whole time, and I was moving in at the same time," said Griffin of her first attempt to rush. "I didn't know anything about sororities. I didn't see myself as a sorority girl."

As she discovered that most of the friends she made freshman year were in sororities, Griffin started to see herself as a Greek.

She was impressed to find sorority girls who had the same interests and values. Many of them were in the same clubs as herself, such as Campus Crusade for Christ.

"I like the idea of having a large support system and somewhere to have a home away from home," Griffin said.

"They seem to have a lot of fun. You know, you go to watch 'Grey's Anatomy,' and 20 girls are with you. It's like a sleepover every night."

Griffin and other girls who rushed participated in four rounds of activities. Each round was more formal than the last.

The week started off with two days of visiting each sorority house. Recruitment counselors, known as Pi Chis, led the girls through Sorority Row. The counselors wore oversized orange or blue hats and tie-dyed shirts.

"Pi Chis really try hard to make it enjoyable," said sophomore Vibha Agarwala, who walked to each house in a pair of flip-flops to avoid blisters. She switched into high-heeled shoes right before stepping into each house.

Pi Chis were equipped with survival kits containing first aid, mints, deodorant and "basically everything a girl could need," she said. They also carried coffee filters - which Agarwala learned are good for blotting out sweat.

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Some of the Pi Chis kept the girls' spirits up with music from iPods and portable speakers. Agarwala, a music major and violinist, said this kept her pumped as they played early 80s and 90s music.

"I didn't expect it to be as intense or take that much of my time," said Agarwala, whose clothes were still in a suitcase before Friday. "All my roommates are done unpacking, and I'm still not done."

Girls rushing followed a dress code for the week, which ranged from shorts and tank tops to cocktail dresses.

In round two, sororities present their philanthropic projects.

In round three, the potential sorority members were shown videos of each chapter's basic activities, such as socials, intramurals and philanthropic projects. The videos helped the girls realize where they fit in.

In the final round before bid day, called "Preferentials," potential members witnessed a part of the chapter's ritual and narrowed down their top choices for sororities even further.

After a year of watching friends in sororities, Agarwala is sure her Greek life will keep her occupied.

"I'm the type of person who likes to be busy," Agarwala said. "I like getting involved, meeting new people, going to socials - I love the fun aspect of it."

She said she plans to be involved with Student Senate and knows her sorority will give her an edge in SG.

Freshman Jordan Huey said that joining a sorority would give her a sense of belonging.

"I'm from Pensacola so I can't really just go home on the weekend," Huey said. "I wanted a place to go to with a group of people that feels like a family atmosphere."

Griffin said that accepting a bid for a sorority will give her a home on campus and help her make her college career more fulfilling.

"You only have four years of college," Griffin said. "If you can make it the best it can be, you might as well."

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