Sorority Rush Though the Years

Years ago there was one sorority rush in Potsdam, for one school.  Then in 1972 Clarkson girls were allowed to rush State sororities, so there was still one rush but for two schools.  Even after the first Clarkson sorority (Phi Sigma Sigma) was founded in 1977 there was still one rush, and Phi Sig even took a State pledge in 1978 "in recognition of the tradition which has always integrated the women of both schools."

In 1984 Clarkson had 2 sororities and started their own rush, separate from the SUNY Potsdam sororities.  Here are some highlights of how sorority rush has changed over the years.
Spring '88 rush party at Omega
(that's me at the bottom middle of the photo, staring straight into the camera)


Spring 1958 rush for the four sororities (PhiK, Zeta, Ago, Alpha):
  • 2 rush parties Friday, February 28th and two Saturday March 1st
  • On Sunday March 2nd rushes would place an Interest Card in a box for any sorority she was interested in (as many as she'd like)
  • On March 7th & 8th there are four 2-hour parties
  • On the morning of March 9th rushes are invited to Open Houses
  • Silence Period begins after the Open Houses, Sunday March 9th at 4pm to Tuesday March 11th at 7pm.  Rushes wear the letter R on a diamond and sisters wear an S on a circle at all times during Silence Period.
  • Preference Cards are handed in on March 9th from 4:30-5:30pm and rushes indicate the Houses they are interested in joining, in order of preference
  • On March 11th bids are handed out


Four Open House parties were held at each of the four sororities with each girl required to visit each house in order to get a bid.  Parties were one hour long and girls attended based on their last names. 
The Racquette, February 1961


A grade point average of 2.0 was required to get a bid.  I'm not sure when this rule started but this is the first I've seen it mentioned in The Racquette.


From a May 1967 issue of The Racquette:
There are approximately 400 sorority members on campus.  Approximately 200 girls rush the sororities each semester.  Rush lasts three weeks.

From an Omega alumni: A bit of nostalgia for the oldest among us. Margie Cole's mother made these little clowns for every girl who was rushing. She must have made hundreds. Spring 1967

When I first started at Potsdam (1967), freshman couldn't rush 1st semester, but could during 2nd semester. We had pledges Spring 68 and Fall 68 for sure. Don't know about Spring 69. I found some old newsletters and here's what they say about Fall 69 (26 pledges): "Under the new rush system, first inaugurated last year, there is only one long rush period during the year". Looks like there was a Fall 70 (24 pledges) and no spring 71. Of course I didn't remember any of this!! Always thought we had 2 a year!!
Zeta rush party, 1970
During 1969 and 1970, there were no Spring pledge classes as freshmen were not allowed to pledge. It may also have been true a few years before that but I am not sure.


Clarkson women start rushing State sororities.

In some 70s newspapers there is mention of rushes bringing $2 and five index cards when they sign up for rush.  Sign ups occur at both schools.

Leaving an Omega rush party, 1978 yearbook


Clarkson holds their first formal sorority rush in January.  36 girls accept bids from Phi Sigma Sigma and Phi Mu.  In the fall Clarkson stops allowing rush sign-up for SUNY Potsdam sororities on their campus but ISC is still allowed to advertise rush on campus.
The Clarkson Integrator, November 13 1984


Clarkson had their rush first, then SUNY Potsdam.  Clarkson girls could sign up for SUNY Potsdam rush at The Newman Center.  I recall three rush parties per House, and the rushes had to attend at least one at each House to be able to get a bid. There were 2-3 rush parties each night and they were all packed.  I recall each House got one rush party scheduled at the end of the night and we would schedule a function with a fraternity and could invite girls to come with us. Each sorority had an Interest Party after that, where girls who were interested in a House would attend.  We then met and decided which of the girls who attended the Interest Party would be invited back for the Final Tea.  From that group we decided who would get bids.


Clarkson "recruitment" happened early in the Fall 2014 semester with bids handed out early in September.  Clarkson sororities follow the parity system where the number of bids handed out is restricted based on House size and the total number of rushes interested in joining, to ensure the sororities maintain consistent sizes from House to House.  Spring 2015 recruitment at Clarkson started before SUNY Potsdam students returned to town from winter break.

One SUNY Potsdam sister said: 

We as a house have our own rush events (usually one or two a week) to get to know girls before formal rush starts and during it. We have to do 3 on campus then we can have them off campus. So with those you can invite any girls you want, it's like a chance to meet the sisters and hang out in a normal situation. It's open to anyone. Then formal rush starts with open house and you have to visit every house. Then interest party and then final tea.  We're not allowed to take girls to functions during formal rush  

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