#RushTok Is Back. Here’s What You Need To Know

Sorority recruitment at the University of Alabama is in full swing, and students are again sharing their experiences on TikTok. Will season 2 live up to the viral hype?

August 5, 2022 · Updated on August 10, 2022

#RushTok Is Back. Here’s What You Need To Know
Opinion & Analysis
Photo by Wesley Hitt / Stringer / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

  • #RushTok and #BamaRush are the viral branding TikTok users are attaching to posts about sorority recruitment at the University of Alabama.
  • Though classes at Alabama have yet to start, sorority recruitment – aka “rush” – is in full swing.
  • Roll Tide?

Head to the Pants Store, put on your Kendra Scott necklace, and load up your Longchamp bag, because #RushTok is back at the University of Alabama.

Sure, classes at Alabama don’t start until Aug. 17, but sorority recruitment is in full swing, exciting news for TikTok users who have been eagerly awaiting another peek at the rush journey at the school.

What Is Rush?

Rush is the term given to sorority recruitment at colleges across the country.

The process generally consists of several rounds of events and interviews, ending in “bid day,” where students who have completed all rounds receive a bid card, or an invitation, to join the sorority they have matched.

Matched? Yes, matched: After each rush event, potential new members (PNMs) rank all the houses they’ve visited and the sororities rank every PNM. Over the course of rush, the number of houses a PNM visits decreases each day, depending on how they rank various sororities and how those sororities rank them.

Each round of rush is slightly different.

The first rounds typically consist of PNMs talking to sisters (members of the sorority) about their sorority, its culture and its values. As PNMs rank and are ranked by sororities, the last rounds become longer, resulting in the preference round, where PNMs are ranked by the last couple of houses they’re deemed a match.

According to The National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), an advocacy organization that supports and represents 26 sororities, there are nearly 700 U.S. colleges with sororities on campus. They boast nearly 370,000 undergraduate members in more than 3,350 collegiate chapters. NPC sets rules for rush and regulates the process, making recruitment similar for all PNMs who want to join a sorority.

However, the process varies greatly from one school to the next. Recruitment can either take place at the start of the fall or winter semester, and many southern colleges’ rush process begins in August before classes begin for the academic year.

#RushTok and #BamaRush

#RushTok is the viral branding slapped on TikTok videos about sorority rush at the University of Alabama (and at Southern schools more broadly). #BamaRush applies just to Alabama’s rush.

Videos under the #RushTok hashtag on TikTok currently have more than 309 million views combined, while videos under #BamaRush have 755.9 million views.

The hashtags gained traction last August after PNMs at southern schools posted videos of themselves preparing for and attending rush events.

The short videos follow sorority hopefuls and active members through the entire recruitment process, from outfit of the day (OOTD) videos, to PR-style videos by individual chapter houses, and sisters participating in the latest TikTok dance trends

The more you scroll #RushTok and #BamaTok, the more PNMs become characters in a reality television series. Viewers make predictions about the PNMs' future house placement, pick their favorite PNMs, and rank which themes were the best executed.

We’re also watching #RushTok videos from sororities at Southern Methodist University, Auburn, and the University of Georgia.

The first round of recruitment at these schools starts next week, and all eyes will be on the PNMs. However, it is rumored that this year’s PNMs will be discouraged, if not forbidden, from posting TikToks of their recruitment journey, despite houses and current members creating content for social media every day.

Shining a Light on Realities of Greek Life

Though the #RushTok content is centered around the outfits, dances, and fun of rush, last year’s viral videos also spurred another trend on the popular video app. Former students began to share the not-so-nice truths of joining Greek life, including instances of racism, bullying, and sexual assault.

The #Collegelife and #University hashtags each have billions of views and new videos on college topics are added to the app daily. ​​Like #RushTok videos, many of these posts include humor specific to the college experience, but they also aim to address numerous issues important to students including campus diversity efforts, financial woes, and mental health.

For all it’s fun, #RushTok has helped shine a light on some not-so-flattering elements of sorority life at the University of Alabama as student, local, and national media report on the phenomenon.

The school’s sororities weren’t integrated until 2013 when, facing pressure from the university, the first Black women were offered and accepted bids. Fast forward to last August, and white women comprised 89% of participants in the first round of sorority recruitment, 4 percentage points higher than that demographic in the undergraduate student population, according to reporting by The Crimson White, the university’s student-run newspaper.

Nepotism is also an issue that has been raised amid the rise of #RushTalk. PNMs have a higher chance of getting bids at certain chapters if they are “legacies,” meaning their family member was previously a member of the sorority. While The Crimson White reports that some sororities at Alabama have ended the practice, the legacy tradition can still contribute to exclusion within Greek life.

What To Expect From #RushTok 2022

#RushTok made its season 2 debut last week, starting strong with "What's in my rush bag?" posts.

Check out how much gear this PNM packed into her pink Longchamp bag (complete with monogrammed bow!). In six days, this video has racked up more than 400,000, 10,000 comments, and nearly 17,000 shares.

@gracynedmondsonnn #bamarush #bamarushtok #bamarushweek ♬ original sound - gracynedmondson

But it’s not just PNMs posting on TikTok. This year, current members are posting videos.

This week is "work week" for current members as they prepare for next week’s themed events, and the sisters are flooding the algorithm with content.

They’re finalizing costumes.

@kelsiehudgins Candy land !! #bamarush #rushtok #polishweek #bamarushtok #rushweek #bama #alphaphi ♬ Candy Shop - 50 Cent

Decorating.

@bamadeltazeta ICE ICE DZ❄️ #bamarush #bamarushtok #bama #deltazeta #rush #recruitment #rolltide ♬ Ice Ice Baby - Vanilla Ice

And perfecting dance trends.

@bella_nicholss Breakfast at the White House anyone???🥞☕️ #bamarush #phimu #rushtok #alabamarush #alabama #alabamaphimu #uaphimu #rushphimu #rush #sorority ♬ original sound - Phoebe

#RushTok is back in full swing, and we will have to wait and see if season 2 lives up to the hype. For now, happy scrolling.