Stories

2014 Summary: Sorority Rush Hospitality

Recruitment
Women enter the Study Center between visits to sorority houses during Recruitment.

Everyone wants to belong. Everyone is afraid at some point that they won’t. Greek life at U.Va. presses in upon both these realities. Students considering the opportunity to go Greek need to be anchored fast to an understanding of their own identity and worth as they go through Recruitment. Otherwise, the week is bound to carry some frustrations and disappointments at best, and at worst, some deeply scarring rejection.

The Center for Christian Study is located right on the edge of the Greek community. We love being on Chancellor Street and we want to care for our Greek neighbors well. We were grateful to once again partner with the UVA Parents Program and serve as an official warming house for ISC Recruitment—thank you for praying with us for this time. We had dozens of volunteers from the University community and the larger Charlottesville community work together to provide a welcoming place for nearly 1,000 women going through recruitment. We were excited to showcase the many opportunities to learn about Jesus and his Church through the different Christian fellowships on Grounds, including our own spring semester programs. We loved bringing together non-Greek students to care for their Greek classmates. We loved offering our building as a place of refuge during a stressful and painful week. It was a joy to watch volunteers move toward women who were questioning and processing and try to offer encouragement in Christ’s name and remind these women that they do not have to be chosen by a sorority to know true belonging.

We were made to belong to God. We cannot experience perfect community without first having community with Jesus. We hope to be good neighbors to Greek students by helping make the recruitment process more comfortable for those rushing, while calling out the ways that Greek life cannot offer what we all ultimately long for—true belonging, in Christ. Would you pray with us that those hundreds of women that entered our community just a month ago might return looking for more?

Below are stories from students and volunteers who were part of the Sorority Recruitment hospitality at the Study Center.

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Lisa Myers, Lane Cowin, Madline England
Pi Chi Lisa Myers with Director of Undergraduate Ministries for Women Lane Cowin and fellow Pi Chi Madeline England.

Pi Chi (Panhellenic Counselor) Perspective:

“There’s a scene that plays out during sorority recruitment in January: the streets are lined with rows of beautiful houses, all decorated with banners and bustling with second, third and fourth year women. These houses will periodically open their doors to the first year women and allow them a peek into a seemingly magnificent world where sisterhood is shared. But after a short period of time, these first year women will be escorted out of the house, and the door will shut again, reminding them that they are not yet classified as members. As girls line up and down Chancellor Street, they take note of another house in the neighborhood. Its door is open, it gives them food, and it breathes a different message to these anxious women. As they hop from sorority house to sorority house they stop by the Center for Christian Study for coffee and end up finding a space that offers truth. When every other door on the street is telling them "try harder," this door is telling them to simply "be still." The Center for Christian Study provides the women who are rushing a space to relax. They can check their hair and re-apply makeup in front of the mirrors, sure, but they will also find that the Stud is not just a space to collect themselves; it’s space where they can fall apart. They don’t have to do or say anything to enter these doors except to be in need—of food, of rest, of comfort. The Study Center resembles one of the most encouraging statements made by Christ Himself: "Come, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." And this is not a temporary rest from the cold or from Recruitment, but a complete rest, displayed to these women through the Study Center’s resources (its staff members, library, and volunteers) which provoke them to seek the everlasting peace of a relationship with God. The Stud is a space these women can walk away from at the end of the day and know that, like our Father, it will always welcome them back inside with arms wide open.

"I think the easy thing for the Study Center to do would be to turn the other direction, to turn a blind eye to some of the messier, harsher realities of the Greek culture at UVA. But the Stud is a place filled with servant-hearted individuals who refuse to run away and have chosen instead to wisely and prayerfully engage with the culture surrounding them. They challenge the design of Chancellor Street by providing an environment for neighbors to come, ask questions, and see groups of staff members and students who love them—not because of the clothes they wear, the anecdotes they tell, or the activities they’re involved in, but simply because they are children of God.”

Lisa Myers, CLAS '15

Elise Bottimore, Clara Gainey, Lane Cowin, Emma McCallie
Elise Bottimore, Clara Gainey, Lane Cowin, and Emma McCallie gather in the warmth of the Study Center between parties.

First Year Rushee Perspective:

“Reflecting on the Stud during recruitment, I have thoughts of a shelter, sanctuary, and safe haven. Such a refuge provided peace for us all in times of insecurity, doubt, and anxiety as well as times of elation, joy, and excitement! Who would’ve thought that endless bowls of M&M’s could be such a ministry opportunity? My favorite conversations at the Stud were the ones that I actually wasn’t a part of—the ones that I happened to hear a bit of: “this is so nice of them to do this for us!” or “I don’t know what we would’ve done without this place this week.” It wasn’t the glitz or the glam that had been flashing before our eyes from the sororities all week. No, thankfully, it was a calm in the storm. A chance to catch our breath, enjoying the simplicity of Bodo’s, bathrooms, and bubbling rushees as we bobbed in and out of the Study Center doors.

"It’s easy to forget that the Study Center is a resource unlike any other. I was thankful for that reminder from small group sisters and strangers alike as we were all touched by the hospitality provided to us by the Study Center during sorority recruitment. As Psalm 91:1 declares, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” I know that for me, returning to a dwelling place of the Lord during a bizarre and chaotic process was tremendous. The same can easily be said for the girls who weren’t necessarily aware of the significance, yet experienced such calming effects anyways.”

Emma McCallie, CLAS '17

Naomi Bishop
Naomi Bishop

Resident Advisor and Rush Hospitality Volunteer Perspective:

“Serving at the Stud was an incredible blessing. As a Resident Advisor, I am not allowed to participate in formal recruitment and have to disaffiliate from my sorority during the Recruitment period. This left me feeling disconnected from many of my close friends. The Study Center gave me a way to still serve the community during Recruitment and helped me feel included and involved.

"As a warming house, the Study Center emanates something that other warming houses do not: the love of Christ. Being able to share this love with girls who were exhausted physically and emotionally was amazing, and it was a strong testament that even systems that often feature a lot of brokenness can still be healed by the grace of God. Thanks to the Study Center, I was not only able to participate in Rush but was also given the ability to love girls and share the Lord’s heart with them. This is something that I wouldn’t have been able to do to the same degree if I had been involved with my chapter.”

Naomi Bishop, CLAS '16

Blake Sinyard
Blake Sinyard

UVA Greek Alum and Rush Hospitality Volunteer Perspective:

“As an alumna of Greek life at UVA, I cannot express how much I appreciate the Study Center’s Rush Hospitality Ministry. Four years ago I was a nervous first year visiting house after house in the bitter cold of the “Snowpocalypse” of 2010. Knowing I could stop by the Stud to get warm in between recruitment rounds was very comforting. It is wonderful to see how the ministry has expanded since then, and how much of a blessing it is to so many young women every January. Staff and volunteers work very hard to make the Stud a place of refuge, offering words of encouragement, delicious refreshments, and a warm place to step back from what is often a very stressful process. Rush Hospitality takes advantage of the Stud’s location and resources in a Christ-centered, outwardly-focused way, reminding young women not to lose heart—not to fix their eyes on what is seen, but on what is unseen, what is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).”

Blake Sinyard, CLAS '13, BATT '14