At the end of an echoing countdown, screams rang throughout the Auburn Arena, down the stairs and into the Village at Auburn Panhellenic's 2017 Bid Day. Down the stairs, hundreds of women ran toward their "new homes."
After a long week of recruitment, starting with record-high numbers --1,587 women received invitations during the first round and 90 percent of women were placed in sororities. The lowest release rate in years, according to Alex McFadden, president of Auburn Panhellenic.
"We're really looking forward tp seeing how all of the new members are changed by their chapters as they grow into leaders," McFadden said. "We will see that around campus because a bunch of our Panhellenic women are involved elsewhere on campus."
Nine women were released during the parties and 25 released before bids were given.
Those standing in the blazing sun waiting to enter the Arena stood with their groups they had bonded with through recruitment, taking photos and anxiously awaiting their chances to rush into the building.
"Bodda Getta, Bodda Getta, Bodda Getta, Ba," echoed in the Arena as the massive group of women waited, squirming in their seats. The cheers lasted until a voice came over the intercom.
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The chatter grew in volume and the countdown began.
Screams of joy were the only thing heard even at the Student Center. Hugging, jumping, tears of joy and lots of running came next as they met with the women holding the letters of their new sorority. A storm of women ran for the door, down the stairs and out to their chapter rooms.
Their experienced sisters stood waiting in the green in front of their columned halls with signs adorned with lucky girls that came flying down the hill toward them.
"I am so excited," said a new recruit as she flew into the arms of the woman holding her name on a cardboard diamond.
Holly Grace Robinson, sophomore in accounting and member of Alpha Delta Pi, was seen squeezing her "best friend for seven years," Betsy Hamm, who is a freshman in pre-nursing. She said she wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else.
"I'm so happy," Hamm said. "My mom is ADPi and my oldest friend is ADPi."
Robinson said she had been pulling for her friend all week. She's excited to be in Auburn and even more thrilled to be "home" with the "sweetest sisters."
Sarah Cox, freshman in exercise science, wanted to rush for the companionship. She said she was nervous, but couldn't help being in shock when she found out she would be a Kappa Alpha Theta sister.
"I wanted to make a family, you know," Cox said. "You know, like bridesmaids and best friends for life. I found that here."
In total, an average of 76 women were welcomed into their new "homes" on Friday.
McFadden said she believes the numbers will continue to rise every year because of the inclusive environment.
"The only reason a person wouldn't receive a bid after the Preference Round is if they intentionally singe-preference, meaning that they had two parties to go to but they only preferenced one," McFadden said. "That is not maximizing their option."
McFadden said the year has been fun and the team has been very united throughout the whole process.
McFadden said Auburn's Panhellenic is different from other Greek organizations on campuses because of their close proximity and willingness to mingle and work with other sororities.
Sarah Turner, an Alpha Gamma Delta, was found with her friends in front of the Alpha Omicron Pi chapter room.
Turner said Auburn has created an environment where it is encouraged to be a part of the entire Greek community, not just one sorority. She said most of her friends are in different sororities and the encouragement never ceases.
"I'm really big into grades," Mcloud said.
Mcloud said if anyone was on the fence about rushing then she would absolutely encourage them to do so, saying it is worth it. Lauren said AOPi asked different questions from other women at different sororities and it kept her interested.
"They didn't ask me the average questions," Mcloud said. "Everybody pretty much asked the same questions like 'Where are you from' and 'Why do you want to be in a sorority?' [At AOPi] we talked about how we love baking cakes and Simone Biles."
Packs of women covered in glitter attacked their new sisters with hugs to the point of hitting the ground and rolling around. Turner said that was what it was all about: family.
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