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Tracking Trends: Future 'sisters' capture the internet through 'Rushtok'

Social media has long been a platform for instant fame. Users have the availability to address the entire world by just posting a Tweet or commenting on an Instagram post.

Since the internet took off, participants of viral trends and videos have capitalized on their ‘five seconds of fame.’ ‘Walmart Yodeling Kid’ has released multiple singles, even collaborating with Lil Nas X. Addison Rae started dancing to popular songs on TikTok in 2019, and now has starred in a Netflix original film.

Although not all viral sensations ‘hit it big,’ there is no denying that the internet is vital in growing one’s influence. A sensation that has recently hit the internet, most notably TikTok, is referred to as “RushTok,” or participants in sorority recruitment posting about their experience.

The most common form of videos uploaded by these PNM’s, or potential new members, are outfit-of-the-days where users break down their outfits, naming the brands they are sporting as well as explaining what they are doing that day. Thanks to the demanding schedule of Rush Week, viewers become invested in the process and root for their favorite user to get a bid from their ideal sorority.

Madison Dile, a freshman studying nursing, has succumbed to the phenomenon that is RushTok.

“I definitely think that those girls spend a lot of money and time … I think it’s cool though, I like it,” Dile said.

Although the content produced by these participants can be perceived as relatively mundane, many other users on TikTok are intrigued by the process and fashion of American sororities. International accounts especially have voiced their shock at the extensiveness of the process, as well as the reverence.

Besides the designer fashion and grueling itinerary, another topic of discussion on the internet surrounding Rush, most notably the University of Alabama’s Rush, was diversity – or the lack thereof. The school officials of the university announced only in 2013 that the historically-white school institution would prohibit exclusion based on race.

Despite this push from the university, a ‘Bama Rush favorite from last year, Makayla Culpepper, shocked her followers by announcing she did not receive a bid from any sororities at the University of Alabama. A couple days prior to her announcement, Culpepper confirmed she was mixed race, sparking outrage on her behalf from fans when she was ‘dropped.’

Sydney Yoder, a junior studying journalism, is hopeful that the sheer size of the audience will keep the university and institution accountable. At the same time, she is wary of their intentions.

“Everybody would hope for more diversity, more inclusivity and stuff, but you also have to think: is that diversity what they really want or is that for show?” Yoders said.

Another advantage of the recruitment process being in the public eye is the exposure of participants and space for their thoughts to be shared. These women uploading their outfits to TikTok are also receiving the attention that comes with being a viral sensation.

Deemed the RushTok ‘it girl’ or ‘diamond of the season’ by many, Kylan Darnell now has brand deals with big names such as Windsor and Eye Candy Couture. Another fan favorite, Gracyn Edmondson, now has her own code for her viewers to get a discount at ALV Jewels.

Ethan Davis, a sophomore studying exercise physiology, admires the power social media has in creating a platform for someone who was not known by many.

“I think that it’s cool that people can use social media to kind of promote themselves and grow their ideas and brands and reach out to a lot of new people in different audiences,” Davis said.

However, Davis hopes they use their newfound fame and influence for good, both in speaking on important issues and changing the narrative of Panhellenic Life.

“I think that it is a lot more publicized now, so I hope in the future they will use this as an opportunity to kind of change the past,” Davis said. 


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