Why is TikTok flooded with posts from one university’s sorority rush?

TikTok users have noticed an influx of content from students at the University of Alabama (or “Bama”) who are participating in sorority recruitment — and it has many of them baffled.

Sorority recruitment, known informally as rush, is a massive deal at many public universities, especially in the American south. It takes place before classes actually start at Bama, which is long before many other schools, and events last for nearly two weeks.

Some of the viral posts have come from potential new members (PNMs) participating in the rush process, in which they show off the “outfit of the day” (OOTD) they wore to recruitment events. PNMs often attend events for multiple different sororities in the process — for instance, one participant said she went to “11 parties” in one day.

So many OOTD videos mention the local shop “Pants Store” that people began to suspect it had something to do with the trend.

Other posts show the current sorority members advertising their sisterhood to entice PNMs.

The recruitment process can vary by university, but essentially, PNMs must express interest in a sorority that also expressed interest in them at the end of the long recruitment process. It requires flaunting both your charm and your style on both sides, so sharing what you’ve worn and how much fun you’re having on TikTok is hugely beneficial to participants.

Why is Bama rush trending on TikTok?

So why is the rest of the world being inundated with these highly specific posts? There are a few possible reasons.

For one, this is the first major rush season for universities in two years because most in-person events did not occur in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Events appear to have returned to their “normal” state at the University of Alabama this year.

It’s also a fascinating subculture, like cottagecore or Alt TikTok, that most users haven’t experienced due to age, geographic location or economic limitations. Sorority rush is flashy, expensive, over-the-top and enthusiastic on purpose — what better way to get someone’s attention?

Many of the posts are properly hashtagged, using labels like #BamaRush and #AlabamaRush to form a cohesive landing page for the phenomenon. Lately, TikTok users have taken to avoiding hashtags or simply using the trending ones to end up on the app’s For You page, so this resurgence makes it refreshingly easy to find related content.

With that in mind, if you find yourself fascinated with one of these TikTok posts and watch it all the way through, TikTok’s infamous algorithm will set you up with more and more posts just like it, which are abundantly easy to find with those hashtags.

Confused TikTokers are now parodying the posts

The random surge of “cheugy” sorority content overwhelmed TikTokers outside the usual realm of University of Alabama’s influence.

“I watched one video making fun of Bama rush and now my whole For You page is this,” one user said.

“What does Bama Greek Life have on TikTok and why is nobody talking about it?” another wrote.

In response, many of them made videos poking fun at the OOTD and promotional videos, which are similarly hashtagged and surfacing with legitimate videos.

User @torikonchel even made a guide to the most popular participants in Bama Rush TikTok for those interested in catching up on all the characters.

Bama Rush TikTok and Bama Rush Parody TikTok are part of a fascinating study in the way TikTok’s algorithm responds to current events. We’ll see what effect that might have on the PNMs’ prospective bids.

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