Rush season at Oklahoma Christian University gives me hives. As event counts rise and club tensions drift through the air, my skin itches in anxiety of forced social interaction and inevitable superficiality. If I could, I would gladly skip the entire thing.
Please do not misunderstand: I realize relationships generally require that awkward stage where two parties put on a front until they feel comfortable enough to drop the act of introductions. For rushees to get to know clubs and vice versa, social performance is necessary on both sides. Despite this necessity, social performance has obvious limitations.
Real relationships require time and intentionality, and these weeks of nervous conversations can seem forced and rushed (no pun intended). Humans were created for closeness, but transparent and true relationships take more than a couple of rush events.
To further complicate the process, different people develop relationships at different paces via different ways. Introverts like me may have more trouble with the niceties and draining social pressure than others. One person may crave words of affirmation while another just needs a hug to feel valued. Depending on the time in a person’s life, personal struggles or stress may inhibit their social mindset and interactions.
But most of my hives stem from a source other than forced social interaction and hurried relationships. What makes me sick is club division and competition.
As clubs try to market themselves as appealing, club relations undergo a considerable uptick in tension. As new friendships with rushees form, members with established loyalties do what they can to seem more appealing than the other clubs. This competition for new members can be emotionally and socially draining.
Of course, not all this competition emerges through harmful means. As clubs try to gain rushees, club members make efforts to build relationships, write notes and encourage rushees however they can to make them feel loved and welcomed.
Be aware, I speak from my own bias. I know I have personally felt less than kindly towards other clubs. Granted, some level of competitive spirit is expected considering club loyalties.
But unfortunately, this year more than ever in my time at Oklahoma Christian, I have felt the focus of rush shift from the rushees to the clubs. I have heard disappointing stories of clubs speaking rudely of each other or of acting in ways that clearly disrespect one another. Instead of encouraging rushees as they try to find a welcoming home, clubs seem bent on undermining each other in petty acts of competition.
To use a cliché Christian metaphor, right now the body of Christ at Oklahoma Christian seems a bit self-destructive. The hand is karate chopping the stomach; the eyes are spinning around their sockets while the feet stumble aimlessly; the left kneecap refuses to bend so the body keeps falling over; etc.
Looks stupid when you try to picture it, right?
Depending on biases and previous knowledge, I am sure readers will make assumptions about which clubs I may particularly have in mind. But regardless of what you may or may not know, please do not dwell on these assumptions. Club members, please instead assume more responsibility for making others feel welcome, not discouraged. Our sophomores just came out of a mask-infested, quarantine-ruled freshmen year of college. Let’s welcome them without a personal agenda and learn how to love each other as a collective student body.
If the rushee you befriended ends up rushing a different club, you will likely be sad. But hopefully they will have joined a club where they feel accepted and encouraged to grow. The social service clubs create spaces for friendship and fun, but they can also accentuate division if club members forget priorities. Please prioritize people above pride.
As a campus founded on Christian ideals, unity and compassion should be foremost in our minds. The body of Christ functions best when its diversity is accepted and encouraged. Club membership may last three to four years, give or take. So, as the rush season concludes, I implore students to see their peers as fellow children of God and embrace the eternal rather than the temporary.