As the beginning of the semester comes to an end, thousands of young hopefuls at universities across the United States wrap up the much anticipated “rush” process — weeks of socializing, bidding, and interviewing in an attempt to become a part of a sorority or fraternity.
Rushing season is marked by elaborate parties, lots of running, and sometimes hazing.
Here at Pomona College, Greek life looks a little different, to say the least. TSL sat down with Wendy Johana Noreña PO ’18, co-president of Sigma Tau, to learn more about fraternity life at the 5Cs.
Contrary to popular belief, Pomona’s fraternities do not operate in secrecy. The two official co-ed fraternities that exist on campus are Sigma Tau and Kappa Delta. Nu Alpha Phi, a third fraternity, was disbanded two years ago.
Greek life has a long history at Pomona. According to Noreña, Sigma Tau was founded 80-100 years ago, though it did not become co-ed until three years ago, which was her freshman year. The group has changed significantly since then, especially after becoming co-ed.
“There used to be a lot of fraternities on campus, and from what I’ve heard, they were a pretty awful presence on campus,” Noreña said. “Sigma Tau has been able to exist for as long as it has because we’ve been open to changing as the school changes and as the students change.”
Though there are many fraternities in other universities that serve specific purposes, such as business, law, service, Sigma Tau is focused on being a social group. There is a rush process, but it is much less intense than that of organizations at other colleges. Noreña likened the process to a middle school field day, but for a week-long.
“We spend a lot of time planning and doing rush,” Noreña said. “Through the rush process, people get to know each other better and become friends with people who [they] never thought [they] would meet. We drink a lot of beer during this time and after when we meet as a fraternity, but the atmosphere is very chill — there are no keg stands, and definitely no hazing.”
Noreña also emphasized that their group is adamant on creating a welcoming environment where no one is required to do something that makes them uncomfortable. No one is required to drink, and they discuss the importance of consent in all forms during their meetings.
The rush for Sigma Tau is also different from that of most U.S. colleges. It is a closed process, and those who wish to rush are nominated by existing members.
The actual course of events is only known by existing members in order to maintain the element of surprise. Afterwards, those who have been invited can decide whether they want to join the group or not, and there is a friendly initiation with the entire organization.
Pomona students who hope to become potential nominees can familiarize themselves with members by attending “boots,” which are regular evening events hosted by Sigma Tau at Dom’s Lounge. The next boot will take place on March 22.
Otherwise, many of the invited nominees are introduced to the group through mutual friends. Noreña said she was initially interested in the group after she befriended her Orientation Adventure leader, who was president at the time. However, Pomona’s fraternities are only open to Pomona students.
Throughout the year, Sigma Tau meets occasionally to hang out, play board games, or dance, with a couple of beers. They do not host “ragers” or 5C parties, but rather spend time within their intimate group and get to know each other.
“We’re just a bunch of dorks that hang out sometimes,” Noreña said. “I wish people knew that it didn’t really look like the frats elsewhere. It’s a great way to meet people and to have a group of friends you typically wouldn’t have.”