Many of our customers are sorority or fraternity members. And there is something wonderful about the connection between Comfort Colors T-shirts and Greek Life.
The National Panhellenic Conference is the association in charge of sororities; North-American Interfraternity Conference heads fraternities. Both formal regulatory bodies have created very specific codes and social mores for membership.
Here are some stats about Greek life from University of Missouri-Kansas City:
- Nationally, 71% of all fraternity and sorority member graduate, while only 50% of non-members graduate.
- The All fraternity and sorority GPA is higher than the overall collegiate GPA.
- Since 1910, 85% of the Supreme Court Justices have been fraternity or sorority members.
- 85% of the Fortune 500 key executives are fraternity or sorority members.
- Of the nation’s 50 largest corporations, 43 are headed by fraternity or sorority members.
- 76% of Who’s Who in America are fraternity or sorority members.
- All but two Presidents since 1825 have been fraternity or sorority members.
- 70% of the U.S. Presidents’ cabinet members since 1900 have been fraternity or sorority members.
- 76% of U.S. Senators are fraternity or sorority members. (http://www.umkc.edu/getinvolved/fsa-national-statistics.asp)
Impressive stats, though we are pretty sure we have not yet had a President who belonged to a sorority.
We wanted to know about the history of rushing. This information was not as easy to find as you might imagine, though we did find some juicy tidbits from the Alpha Delta Phi Society at Brown:
Harvard, the first American college and prototype for the entire American college system, was patterned after the colleges of England. Harvard copied every English custom it was possible to copy: the dormitory (or commons) system of living, the classical curriculum, the degree requirements, and the strict student discipline. (http://students.brown.edu/Alpha_Delta_Phi/history/fraternities.php)
So we asked a Brit about rushing. Of course he replied “A gentleman never rushes, he saunters.” The Brown website explained it this way:
Every freshman class was subjected to extensive hazing, of a degree of brutality which can be described as barbaric. Severe injuries were common, and occasionally a boy was killed. Naturally, the freshmen fought back, and gradually arose formalized class battle, some of which raged for days. These class fights were called “rushing.” This may be the origin of the fraternity word “rush.”
The result of these class battles was that each class was united against every other class, and the classes were united against the faculty – the authority figures who enforced the rules. The spirit of camaraderie among the students was a driving force toward the creation of the more dedicated, more devoted, and more idealistic personal friendships in those smaller groups which would be called fraternities.
This explains why fraternity recruitment is called Rush, but what of the sororal aspect of recruitment? The kind of rush described above does not seem very feminine.
The Adelphean Society at Wesleyan was the first established women’s society (1851). Wikipedia’s description of early sororities does not include any mention of battles: “Sororities had, from the beginning, the difficult objective of proving the viability of coeducational studies. That women could perform academically as well as or better than men while maintaining the Victorian ideals of womanhood was a tall order. Sororities created high academic standards and monitored the social activities of their members from their inception.”
While recruitment practices vary from campus to campus, and these days you can even hire a Sorority Rush Coach, it sure doesn’t sound like fisticuffs to us. Why is it still called Rush Week? Sororityrush.webs.com says it is because of the quick decisions that are made, often based on appearance. But there must be more to it than that. Is it the bum’s rush women who are not selected feel? Is the sugar rush they feel when they are? Is it just tradition?
Regardless of its origins, we are glad these talented students can find some comfort in our shirts.