Bid day at the University of Alabama is like Christmas, Easter, and every other holiday wrapped into one. Every single PNM, potential new member, is waiting with their Rho Chi, or rush, group in Bryan Denny Stadium, at 2pm they open their bids, find out what sorority they have gotten an offer from. Then by sorority, each PNM runs to their house with utter joy. All of a sorority’s active members are present outside of their house waiting for their new sisters to come home to their house. During bid day family members come down to celebrate this news. Fraternity brothers from the university also come to the sorority row and hand out roses to the new members while they are running home. It is one of the biggest celebrations on campus as thousands of new sisters are running down the row.
EG is a member of a sorority at the University of Alabama and a sophomore. She has been in her sorority for two years and had experienced both sides of this tradition. She finds it is more exciting as an active as you know more people. This piece was taken during a conversation at our home.
As a member of a fraternity at USC, I understand some of the excitement of bid day. It is a moment is a freshman’s life where they get to join an organization allows them to be the best version of themselves that they can be. Greek Life at the University of Alabama is known for having the biggest presence on any campus in the nation. At USC, our sorority’s also have their bid day all at once. New members run down the row from the Village Lawn into their new sorority house. As my fraternity’s house is near several sorority houses, I can say that EG’s description of her bid day sounds similar to USC’s, but on a much, much larger scale. I find this celebration to also be a really rewarding time after having to go through a lengthy recruitment period.
This informant is a member of a USC fraternity and I asked him to share some of their traditions or stories he might have. One I found interesting was about an annual tradition that occurs when the Sororities give out their bids to the new members.
Every year in the Fall sororities have this event where they give bids to the new freshman and they all run from campus to their new houses. I honestly have no idea why they do it that way but its fuckin awesome for us because we just get to sit back and scope all the new hot girls. Every semester we all sit in front of the house really drunk and get super rowdy. The whole time we all judge who got the best pledge class and try to pick out the hottest chicks.
I might add that my informant was drinking a beer while I listened to his story, which is further a testament to the drinking culture amongst fraternities. I thought this was an interesting story because it shed light on some interesting dynamics between fraternities and sororities. Frat kids seem to be blatantly disrespecting women, most of them young freshman, which an outsider might find offensive. However, the sorority girls obviously want to show off their new pledge class to the Greek community and have continued to do so for years. This shows how the college culture of acceptable cross-gender relations is different from the outside world.
The informant told me a story very recently after a fraternity on campus offered him a bid to join their organization.
He was told to get into the car with two of the brothers and blindfolded. They dropped him along side of sidewalk. One of the brothers got out of the car with him and removed the blindfold. He raises both hands towards the informant, one with a red M&M and the other with a blue M&M. The brother said to him, “you can take the red pill and join us, and see how deep the rabbit hole goes. Or you can take the blue pill and go on with life without us.” The informant took the red M&M, and the brother nodded solemnly. Then he said, “This never happened,” and drove off, leaving my informant on the ground next to the sidewalk.
Analysis: This is clearly a reference to a popular movie called The Matrix (1999). Whether all fraternities have bid rituals referencing pop culture or if this was a one-off would take more research and collection. The reference may make the ritual more approachable to the new potential initiate, or give the fraternity a sense of coolness and make them seem hip and popular. The blindfold symbolizes the fact that the new member was blind to the world before he found the brotherhood.
Most fraternities are founded on history and tradition, so it is interesting to find this ritual that goes slightly against the grain, as it is a very current reference.
Annotation: “The Matrix”. Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved June 24, 2009.