Dozens of women wearing red, white and blue knee socks twisted and stomped, dancing and shouting along to Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the USA.” One had fashioned a makeshift cape from an American flag; another darted around wildly with a smaller flag clamped between her teeth. They whipped around scarlet feather boas, chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A!” It was like an alternate-universe Fourth of July: about 60 degrees colder and a whole lot louder.
It was Bid Day at SU.
The ladies of Kappa Alpha Theta had selected “America” as their Bid Day theme. Farther down Walnut Place, Delta Delta Delta sisters channeled ancient Egypt through gaudy, sequined headbands and T-shirts emblazoned with pyramids. Cars full of screaming sisters drove by, cameras flashed and Silly String unfurled into the biting cold as every sorority lay in wait of its newest pledges, affectionately dubbed “babies.”
“You feel drunk without being drunk,” said junior Rachel Rifkin of Kappa Alpha Theta, reflecting on her first Bid Day. “It’s an adrenaline rush.”
This year saw a rise in the number of babies: An increase in recruits coupled with a record low dropout rate drove the Panhellenic Council to add three extra rounds of mandatory house visits, during which recruits decide which of SU’s 11 Panhellenic sororities best suits them. The last round ran until 2 a.m. Saturday, after which recruits processed their top choices at Schine Student Center. To minimize risk to the hundreds of women roaming the campus as late as 4 a.m., the Department of Public Safety ensured that they were all either escorted or shuttled home by bus, confirmed sophomore Whembley Sewell, who would later accept a bid from her first choice, Kappa Alpha Theta.
On Sunday, Bid Day, pledges learned their fates in the Hall of Languages. “I thought I was going to die,” Sewell recalled of the moment right before she opened her envelope. “Tears started welling up.”
After migrating to Schine to meet their sisters and learn sorority chants, pledges began the customary dash to their new respective houses. Undeterred by ice or sludge, they ran shrieking through campus, aided by cold-weather boots and DPS crossing guards.
“They usually run out the doors, and it doesn’t really last that long,” said Officer John Romano before the sprint, adding that he didn’t expect any falls on slippery sidewalks.
Back on Walnut, the roar of the welcoming party had intensified as Haddaway’s “What is Love (Baby Don’t Hurt Me)” pulsed through giant speakers. Three sisters thrashed around on the steps of the Alpha Phi house, banging a soup ladle on a frying pan. Nine women—one of them heartily playing a vuvuzela—leapt around atop a Dodge 4x4 parked on the Kappa Alpha Theta lawn. Alpha Tau Omega brothers watched from their porch, alternating between dancing maniacally and preparing bouquets of carnations and roses for new Kappa Alpha Theta pledges.
"We give them flowers," said junior Salvatore DiPietro. "Usually whatever's on sale."
The volume swelled to an all-time high when pledges finally arrived at their new homes. Sisters greeted pledges with an aggressive chant of “BA-BIES! BA-BIES!” before swallowing them into an endless series of photo ops.
“Everything’s fine; no one fell,” said Romano after pledges safely reached their houses. “See? I was right.”
The new sisters beamed, seamlessly joining in the merry chaos.
“Today has been the most exciting day,” said freshman pledge Annie Loeb. “I can’t wait to get started.”