Whew!!!  I am finally back home!  No more trips for this “sorority girl” until I head off to recruitment at The University of Alabama.  I am very excited to spend the week of August 10th in Tuscaloosa helping a certain sorority with their parties.  Until then I have a lot of catching up to do.

I had a mom request not too long ago that I talk about recruitment at The University of Kentucky and so here goes.  The title of this post implies that there will be two parts to this discussion on recruitment at UK and I am anticipating there might be, only because I am first going to talk about tea cards and that might take me a whole post :).

So… tea cards, do you know what they are?  After discovering that UK had this delightful practice I discovered that I did know what they were but the name “tea cards” threw me off a little.

Back before WWI when women of social merit would go “calling” (as in visiting) other women, they would take some small cards with their name printed on them to leave incase the woman whom they were calling on didn’t happen to be at home.  Inside every home, in the foyer, was a sterling silver plate where these “calling cards” would be left.  It was a sign of social stature to collect as many of these cards as you could.

Fast forward to graduation announcements.  Inside of each and every announcement (especially high school ones) the graduate puts a small card that has their full name printed on it.  this card symbolizes that the student has matured past high school and is  calling everyone to notice that they are now an “adult”.  In addition a small picture of the student is enclosed as well so we can “see” how they have matured and grown.

I don’t think the concept of calling cards has actually ever gone out of style in the South.  These gentile, socially correct women have continued to follow the social etiquette of days gone by.  It’s evident in their manners (yes m’am), the way they dress (sundresses, Lilly Pulitzer…conservative hemlines), social clubs, garden clubs and sorority affiliations and their neighborly lifestyle.  I have a good friend who had small “calling cards” made with her name, cell phone number and email on them. When her children go for play dates she leaves one with the parent so they have her “contact” information.  When I told her that I was going to post on this she informed me that many of her friends do this as well and she has had some made for her children to hand out to friends.

So OF COURSE it makes sense that UK would have its own version of this. I know that The University of Louisville uses them as well. I would also note that I haven’t looked into all of the  other SEC college recruitments but I am betting other campuses use tea cards too.

So how does it work?  Well the PNM is asked to bring a stack of tea cards with her to recruitment.  I know that the girls are told that if they have any left from graduation they can use those :).  I also know that many PNM’s obsess over these, wanting then to be perfect…..to look just right.  Just like a young southern woman may have picked her sterling pattern according to the sorority she is affiliated with or her family history I do believe that the script with which the PNM’s name is printed most likely holds a special significance.

What happens if you don’t have any left over graduation name cards **GASP** or even worse what if you didn’t use them???? According to the UK Panhellenic you have two otpions: 1.  You can simply write you full name on a piece of paper the size of a tea card. 2.  You can go and have some printed.

I laughed when I read option 1.  I mean it!  I laughed out loud.  I happened to be sitting in my son’s apartment in Chicago when this outburst occurred.  He looked at me like I had lost my mind so I had to explain.  After educating him about tea cards (I honestly thought he would be interested..he works in the Women’s Gender Studies Archives at Loyola University) he just shook his head with this quizzical look.  When I asked what was wrong he replied, “Mom, it’s so much simpler to just be a boy”.  Hmmm…am going to have to educate him on “southern gentlemen’s manners and protocol”…but that’s for later :).

Can y’all guess why I laughed at just cutting out paper and writing your name on it?  After months and months of agonizing about creating the perfect resume and  securing recommendations and letters of support do you REALLY thing that a PNM is just simply going to take a piece of paper and write her name?  How would that look?  I am thinking that it would be the “kiss of death” as far as getting a bid goes.  Ladies…get those tea cards professionally printed!

So what do you do with these little gems once you have them?  When the PNM’s attend  the Round One Ice Water teas they are to take their tea cards and place one on the designated tray.  Yes..a throw back to days gone by the silver tray will be ready and waiting for those precious names!  While a sorority might have their tea card tray (try saying that three times fast after a few mint juleps) sitting on a credenza in the foyer others will have designated actives whole will be holding the tray, collecting the cards.

I had a parent ask me to clarify a rumor she heard in regards to this.  She had heard that in some cases two young women were positioned at the door, each holding a tray.  When a “pretty” girl entered the girl on the right (designated to collect only the “pretty girl” cards) stepped forward and held out the tray.  Can you guess what cards the second girl collected?  Yep….her job was to collect the cards from what was determined to be the “not pretty girls”.  I shared with this parent that I was sure this WAS NOT a practice that occurred at UK or any other campus for that matter.  It is simply one of those “recruitment rumors” we have heard so much about. At least I like to think we have moved beyond that behavior..it’s 2012 :).

I know you all want to know..”what do they do with the cards after the PNM’s leave?”  We can all picture the active with a tray full of cards walk over to the trash and tip the tray….all of the cards gently falling into the waster can but NO, that’s not the tea cards fate.  What happens with the tea cards falls under the membership selection process and I have been asked not to share what the sororities use these cards for but I will tell you that they are important.  Just as your resume paints a picture of you by what activities and awards you were involved in during your high school years, your tea card will add another component by which a sorority can decide if you are the “Right fit” for them.

So….I for one am going to stop by Paper Source today when I am down on the Plaza chatting with a PNM and her mom and check out their tea cards.  I think Sorority Girl 101 needs a few…don’t you?