I first decided to rush a sorority my sophomore year with my roommate, completely on a whim.

I am from Texas and, having witnessed southern sorority life, was decidedly skeptical at the outset. Upon meeting the women in these chapters, however, my eyes were opened.

In my life, Theta has become many things — a place that I can go to relieve stress, a group of women with whom to go out on a Saturday night, and a support system, a backbone for my emotional and intellectual education at Yale. I went from thinking sorority life would be a whimsical social excursion to dedicating my time and effort to my sisters, becoming rush chairman for Theta for fall 2001.

Sorority life at Yale is singular because women at the heart of these organizations do not fit any stereotype, and instead are diverse, well-respected members of the Yale community. Their mission, first and foremost, is to promote sisterhood. Though social events and community service are a strong element of sorority life, they are not what define any sorority as a group, nor why the group itself was started.

There are three Panhellenic sororities on-campus: Kappa Kappa Gamma or “Kappa”; Pi Beta Phi or “Pi Phi”; and Yale Kappa Alpha Theta or “Theta” — the oldest national sorority and the first at Yale.

The sororities hold weekly meetings, and each sorority sends two members to a Panhellenic Council, an organization that oversees rush events and promotes unity between these three sisterhoods through community service and social events.

Outside of these three, there are also cultural sororities: Delta Sigma Theta and Alpha Kappa Alpha are African-American sororities, and Sigma Lambda Upsilon is a Latina sorority. These sororities hold their rush process separately from the Panhellenic sororities.

The rush process for Kappa, Pi Phi and Theta is once again singular in that there is absolutely no hazing. In fact, sorority rush is generally known as a time for building unity among the sisters of a given chapter and expressing how excited rushees should be to be enfolded in the arms of this loving community.

Rushees are required to rush all three sororities, signing up at pre-rush events in September, and new members are chosen through a mutual selection process. Each sorority seems similar at first, but in the end are revealed to be unique in their own ways, and each girl is drawn to a particular group of women for her own personal reasons.

Many students arrive at Yale each year with pre-conceived notions of sorority life, but those who decide to rush are blessed with the unique experience of meeting and bonding with intelligent, motivated women from all walks of life.

I know I have been.

Laurel Pinson is a senior in Kappa Alpha Theta.