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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Health comes second during sorority recruitment

    As much as students want to get ahead with their degree requirements, many do not attend summer sessions I and II because of the scorching Arizona sun.

    Avoiding Tucson heat at its worst is possible unless you want to go through formal sorority recruitment. Taking place only once every academic school-year, all 11 sorority chapters at UA recruit potential new members during one week in mid-August. In order to be considered, all participating women must arrive in Tucson a week before classes start, pay $100 in recruitment fees, an extra $35 if living in a residence hall for the early move-in fee and invest in several different outfits for each day of the process.

    Of the many things UA Greek Life fails to take into account during recruitment, the Arizona heat is the most dangerous to overlook. When I went through the rush process as a potential new member, over 1,000 college women were expected to visit each house all day without water bottles since our recruitment counselors did not want to carry them for the half hour they spent in each. Instead, potential pledges were advised to drink from the numerous water stations by each house, but a few tiny cups of water were not sufficient enough to avoid dehydration in 105-degree weather, especially with the discouragement of chugging water in front of the active sorority members.

    Tucsonans seem accustomed to the often uncomfortable summer weather, but out-of-staters and even northern Arizonans cannot be prepared for such an intense change in temperature right away. Students from cooler regions slowly adjust to Tucson’s torridity by increasing their water intake, staying indoors whenever possible, applying sunscreen and wearing proper attire. But it isn’t possible to gradually adapt to the heat during sorority rush because of the strict schedule that has to be followed, the sleep deprivation due to long hours devoted to rush events and discouragement of drinking substantial amounts of water.

    I spent five hours in the hospital for severe dehydration and heat exhaustion during my time at sorority rush. But I’m not alone. When I called my recruitment counselor to inform her I would be late for the third day’s events, she wasn’t at all surprised to hear that I was sick – there were several others throwing up from the intense heat. She also mentioned that it’s common for girls to get dehydrated during recruitment every year. If these potential new members are becoming so ill they cannot even drink water without vomiting, why hasn’t Greek Life taken the hint that they are jeopardizing the health of vulnerable freshmen and sophomores? Does an unprepared girl from a cool climate have to die of extreme dehydration before Greek Life wises up and makes changes to the recruitment process?

    As many other universities do, the UA should move formal recruitment to the spring semester when the weather isn’t deadly and the students aren’t so overwhelmed by the start of a new year. Not only would the conditions of the process be safer for everyone, but freshmen would have a semester of acclimation to college before deciding who their sisters for life will be. Yet Greek Life insists that rush takes place before the school-year starts to avoid academic conflicts. This would make better sense if they could say the same about fraternity rush, which is held in the fall and spring semesters during the school-year. Does Greek Life have lower standards for the men or are they just harsher on the women?

    Besides the sadistic idea of holding recruitment in unlivable weather is the unfair expectation for freshmen girls to fully adjust to a new place right away. Although sophomores can go through the process, few are wanted by all houses because freshmen earn the chapters more money. Mercenary values aside, leaving home and saying goodbye to family members is hard enough without having to feign happiness and excitement to impress active sorority members. A friend that endured the process as a freshman was struggling after leaving California for the first time, and being unable to see her parents for eight hours during an extremely difficult week of adjustment made recruitment even harder on her. No one in Greek Life seems to take into account the obvious difficulties that come with drastic change.

    If chosen to be a part of the perfect house for them, college women may feel the rough process is worth the sickness and pain, but the same end can still be achieved with fewer casualties during the spring. Since Greek Life claims to keep academics in mind during the hectic recruitment process, the girls can arrive in Tucson a week before the start of spring semester as opposed to a week prior to the start of fall semester. Freshmen will be used to school and in weather that doesn’t have the potential to seriously endanger them. Setting aside the extravagant financial expectations of a sorority, the system in which the women are recruited is harmful – yet no one seems to be doing anything about it.

    Laura Donovan is a creative writing sophomore. She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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