Rush Week Tradition Brings High Hopes

It is Rush Week and many college women are hoping to be accepted by the sorority of their choice.

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LIANE HANSEN, host:

Today, some of the first-year women at Florida State University will find out what sorority they'll call home for the next four years. Essayist and Florida State alum Diane Roberts remembers the end of Rush Week all too well.

DIANE ROBERTS: You've had your facial, your pedicure, your manicure. Your hair is highlighted. Your clothes are new and your tan is golden. You are a princess. You walk from sorority to sorority in flip-flops, carrying your high heels in one hand. You put your cute shoes on for the rush party and you stuff the flip-flops into your plastic bag along with your lip gloss, cell phone and Kleenex.

It's August - hot, humid. You worry your hair will frizz. You worry you will sweat. Alpha Chi Omega to Kappa Kappa Gamma, the sororities all look like plantation houses with tall, cool white columns and tall, cool windows. The sorority girls look cool, too, like sherbet. They lead you into their big pale living rooms full of icy chandeliers. And you realized that your highlights are too light and your tan is too dark, your mascara too thick, your dress - too bright.

If you are a princess, they are queens, empresses, goddesses. Yet they smile and ask you, what are you majoring in? Which dorm do you live in? Where did you get these great shoes? They are really, truly interested in you, and you are happy.

On the third day of Rush, a sorority drops you. It must be a mistake. Amanda(ph), that girl with hair, the color of butter? She loved you. You didn't bother what the houses your roommate says are losers but more are cutting you. You lie awake in the dorm wondering, does that girl with the Prada shoes somehow know that your father will never make it pass vice president? Did the blue dress make you look fat?

The fifth day of Rush: a girl in long pearls looks deep into your eyes and tells you she wants you to be her sister. She tears up. You tear up. She says sisterhood is forever. But you don't know if this house is the place you want to define you forever.

You go to the English building to get out of the heat and think everything over. You come across a couple of girls you recognize. They're sitting on the floor, crying. You feel sorry for them. You almost get out your Kleenex. Then you wonder if they're the, sort of, people who will end up in loser houses anyway. You hardened your heart and keep walking. You are a princess.

HANSEN: Her royal highness, Diane Roberts, teaches creative writing at her alma mater Florida State University. She holds the 1978 Sigma Kappa Best Pledge Paddle Award.

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