“The Nightmare Room” and Four Other Ways to Reinvigorate the Rush/Recruitment Process
While I’ve never been bold enough to go out for recruitment myself, I do have a funny little fantasy about what the experience would be like. The parties, all the new friends I would make, the beautiful sorority and handsome fraternity houses, and the abandoned mines beneath them where a monstrous, millennia-old secret has nearly gnawed through its enchanted shackles. Actually maybe fantasy is the wrong word, let me back up a little bit. One time two years ago I ate three-quarters of a pot brownie and caught a Vineyard Vines commercial in the middle of the History Channel’s Halloween marathon.
To say it had an indelible effect on my understanding of Greek life would be an understatement, but rather than being frightening, or critical of fraternal or sororal institutions, I was more intrigued than ever! Since arriving on campus, and seeing Greek life with my own eyes, my enthusiasm has…waned ever so slightly, but I think with a push in the right direction, sororities and fraternities can recapture some of that (black) magic that captured my imagination back then! To aid in that endeavor, here are some ideas to reinvigorate recruitment with all the occultism and intrigue that I’ve always dreamed of. Feel free to use one, or all 5 of my suggestions to really set the tone for the new members, and all Greek life on campus!
- Text pictures of long-deceased family pets to potential pledges during the early hours of the morning
Use Facebook to your advantage! While a college student might have an adept understanding of the social networking site’s security protocols, chances are their parents won’t. Look through their photos for old holiday cards that include potential pledges and older looking animals, crop, and edit accordingly!
- Mark off a main story restroom as “The Nightmare Room”
Make sure it’s in plain sight and clearly labeled. For the first week or so of recruitment, use bike locks or link chain to keep it closed as if you were trying to contain a wild animal. By day 8 or 9, remove all obstructions, replace ceiling or wall-mounted lights with a simple strobe lamp, and cover all surfaces with black contractor bags. Litter the floor polaroids of a children’s choir and pour 8-10 cups of pool water (or similarly chlorinated water) over them. If a potential pledge asks you or another member of your organization about The Nightmare Room, smile politely and silently disengage from conversation.
- When the president of your organization is speaking, have all members silently mouth all the words along with them
You are legion! With enough practice, this will work for impromptu conversations as well. And if your president is looking to have a little more fun…
- Replace your president with an imposter
Once the potential pledges become accustomed to the social hierarchy of your sorority or fraternity, try switching the president out with another member of your organization. Have the imposter assume the president’s name, style, history, and circle of close friends. With the imposter now appearing publicly with their new identity, try to hide the real president from the pledges at all times. If the president must be seen, write the word “exiled” all over their body in permanent marker.
- Disappear completely
When all recruitment events have concluded and pledges head over to their respective Greek houses to celebrate their new membership, vacate your sorority or fraternity house. If possible, leave it in a rotting state of complete disrepair, with the windows and doors boarded. Ask an aspiring actor to stand outside and play the role of a groundskeeper who, if asked, would tell pledges, “Why, [Sorority/Fraternity Name]? They haven’t had a chapter on this campus in… must be fifty years this very evening!”