Tent Talk :   verb:  Discussions between PNM’s about reputations of sorority members and their repective houses. Tent talk can be positive comments but usually is composed of negative and damaging statements about the sororities involved.

Tent Talk:…it’s already started.  For those of you who are unfamiliar let me explain.  Tent Talk originated in the south a long time ago.  Since for many southern school recruitment is in August when heat and humidity are at their peak, many campuses erect tents on the sidewalks or the sororities where PNM’s can rest out of the direct sun (or congregated when a passing deluge of rain hits). Often times they will also have large fans blowing to try to help the girls “cool” off.

As the girls sit under these tents between parties they often “talk” about the houses they have visited so far…..thus the name “Tent Talk”……talking under a tent.  So if you don’t know about Tent Talk I am sure at this point you are scratching your head going, “Hmmmm, so she is off on a rant today”.  Well you are partially right.  The PROBLEM with Tent Talk is that sometimes it takes a negative turn and that negativity can be damaging to the sororities on campus and to the PNM’s who are going through recruitment.

Let me explain……

We all know that recruitment is emotionally exhausting.  It’s hard to stay smiley, bubbly and engaged in 100 degree heat for 8 straight hours.  Making connections with sorority members at each house is desirable but lets face it…..there are going to be houses where PNM’s are going to leave thinking to themselves,  OMG!!!!  did I just really have that conversation????  Was that girl for real?????  How did she ever get into a sorority?????  Most awkward conversation ever!!!! (Ok remember….those sorority women might be saying that about the PNM as well :/ ).

So…. after this disastrous party, Patty PNM goes to the tent in front of the house where her next party is, she plops down (face it she’s tired, hot and exhausted as much as we would like to think she gracefully lowers herself to the ground tucking her legs daintily under her sundress….well yeah she’s going to plop!) and she turns to the PNM sitting next to her and says, “I just talked to the weirdest girl at sorority XYZ ever…what a ninja!!”  She goes on to explain about the conversation, maybe embellishing it just a teeny tiny bit while her captive audience listens. When the time arrives for the girls to line up and get ready  to enter the next house they do, but the damage has already been done.  A group of PNM’s have now heard and may be formulating opinions that sorority XYZ is “the house of awkward ninja girls”.  No one wants to be associated with weird ninja girls…right????

I know…it’s a totally meaningless conversation….the PNM never meant to say “bad things” about that sorority, she was venting her uncomfortable experience but that’s not what the other PNM’s heard.  In addition, if others have had a “not so great” experience there the Tent Talk gets amplified and at the end of the day this one conversation has become damaging to this particular sorority.  Some of you are thinking to yourselves, “She’s a little hysterical over this”….maybe but as you head off to Preview weekend today and tomorrow THINK about what you have HEARD about the different sororities and their women who you will meet this weekend.

They all have different reputations…that’s expected.  There will be the houses that seem to have all the blond haired beauty queens, the house of the “rich” southern girls”, the house that only takes girls from a certain high school, the smart girl house…you understand where I am going …right?   These reputations are partially true…you will find houses that have really high stats girls, and houses that do have a lot of pageant girls and houses that have a lot of members from a particular area.  Likes attract likes…..it’s a proven fact.  You are attracted to people who are most like you.  You gravitate towards people with similar interests and goals.

During recruitment ( remember speed dating sorority style), you will have a limited time to “connect” and bond with those sorority women you feel comfortable with.  What I am asking…ok no…telling you to do is to shelve the preconceived notions about each house.  Go in having each sorority you visit a blank page, for what may not be a good fit for another PNM ( for whatever reason …and there can be hundreds of them!) this particular sorority might be a good fit for you!!!  If you listen to the Tent Talk you may be missing an opportunity to belong to a fantastic sisterhood!

I realize you haven’t sat under any tents yet…but Tent Talk doesn’t only occur there.  It happens on social media, like Facebook and it will happen at Preview.  Before my daughter ever went to Preview (months before) she had “heard” about the house that no one wanted.  I am embarrassed to say she bought the story hook, line and sinker. We had MANY conversations about preconceived notions, giving this house a chance, going in with an open mind, attending their invitation party  just to see.  I wish I could say I convinced her to give this house a chance but the Tent Talk got to her and she just shut them out.  She did not attend their pre-recruitment party, she wouldn’t hardly even look at the lovely notes they kept sending, she hurried by their show and tell table on Preview….she wrote them off.  She even went as far as to put them at the very bottom of her list after the first round of parties.

They were now “gone” and then what I call buyers remorse hit.  As recruitment progressed and the cuts became more aggressive my daughter began to wonder if she had made a mistake.  Oh she still heard the Tent Talk about this sorority but now there was doubt…”What if she had written off a house that she would have had a CONNECTION with?  What if that was supposed to be “her” house and the only bid she would have gotten? ”  In her case this wasn’t what happened.  She found her home and letters right where she belonged and is very happy and involved in her sorority but she learned a valuable lesson about Tent Talk.

Some of you may believe me and some will be skeptics but I am here to tell you that Tent Talk can destroy a sorority.  One “bad” pledge class can be damaging and its starts a cycle that is hard to break.  The reputation of getting the “leftovers” is not a good one..remember likes gravitate towards likes so in this case if you have a pledge class that might be a little shaky then recruiting the next year gets all the harder!

Now that she is on the “other side” my daughter realizes how damaging Tent Talk is!  She said this past recruitment season how bad she felt that she had totally turned her back on the “Tent Talk” sorority.  She had the opportunity to get to know some of the members of that house and she acknowledged that they were very nice, normal girls.  She knew that she would not have “fit” there but she also found that all of the Tent Talk rumors were unfounded and not true.

At most major competitive sorority recruitments there are many sororities on campus.  House totals for these sororities are often well above 200 girls.  Think about that….200 girls and yet a simple conversation with 1 girl can taint a sororities reputation.  Many young women who go through recruitment have that many girls in their senior class.  Are you actually friends will all those girls?? NO!  Do you do social activities with all of those girls?  NO!  But, out of those 200 plus girls you have found a nucleus of friends that you do have a connection with and who you do hang out with.  You sure have!!!  It’s the same with the sororities on the campus of the University where you will attend and for some of where you will visit for Preview this weekend.  they will all have over 200 members and you won’t have a connection or be friends with all of the girls but it is totally possible to find a group of girls that you WILL have a connection with and can become friends with.

SO….as you embark on Preview Weekend PLEASE don’t listen to the Tent Talk.  Keep an open mind.  Give each sorority woman you meet a chance to make a connection.  Let each house “shine”.  These ladies have been working VERY hard to put on the best Preview Weekend ever.  Their invitation parties were all planned by young women who have classes and tests and papers due (my daughter has 2 tests and paper due next week yet she will be at each preview invite party for her sorority , she’s on Exec…it’s mandatory but she’s excited to meet all of the PNM’S and potential new “sisters”, and will be present at the large meeting being held all day Saturday) and yet they have taken their own personal time to planned execute these events….why because they truly LOVE their sisterhood and their sisters.  They are excited to show YOU all of the wonderful activities, philanthropy projects, campus wide groups they have members in and most importantly how you can become a member of their sisterhood.

Tent Talk…..you’ve heard it already.  Make a choice to not listen with your ears to this type of damaging gossip but rather to listen to the young women you meet this weekend with your heart…you won’t regret it.