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Meet your new sisters
On Bid Day, Brenaus sororities open their arms to new family members
Phi Mu sisters dance and sing Sept. 20 during Bid Day at the Brenau Amphitheater. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

There was a sea of excited, mostly 18-year-old freshmen girls outside Brenau University's Owens Student Center. You could hear the squeals of excitement and smell the perfume blocks away.

They're waiting for the special moment when they are handed their bid cards.

Jade Chanda, a freshman at the Gainesville school, stood waiting with them. This brought on anxiety and extreme excitement, as Chanda wondered which sorority would select her as one of its new pledges.

Four days of smiling, primping, talking and trying to make her best impression were about to end with the opening of an envelope.

She tore the card open.

Her dream came true when she saw the letters ZTA.

Bid Day for young women hoping to join a sorority at Brenau University was Sept. 20, and the event culminated four days of introductions, get-to-know-you conversations and sorority events. Each day, the ladies had to narrow down their list of preferred sororities, from six to four to two and, finally, one.

"It was tougher than I thought it would be because I actually liked Alpha Chi Omega and ZTA," Chanda said. "I meshed with each of them differently. I ultimately went with ZTA because it was just my instinct. I talked with them a lot easier ... it felt natural.

"I'm not naturally really a nervous person. I guess it was a little nerve-racking when we were waiting at the porches and waiting to go in and meet the girls. It was more like an anxious or excited nervous."

Although, Chanda was pretty sure the ZTA women liked her as much as she liked them.

"I was unsure until the final morning," she said. "(The preference ceremony) is when they tell you where you stand, at least the girls in both the houses that I went to did. They said, ‘We are really interested in you, we really think you would fit well in this sorority. Are there any questions that you would like to ask and how can we make you decide to go ZTA?,' basically."

And those words are what got Chanda through the last day of recruitment, which ended with receiving the bid cards.

Blaire Hillman also opened her bid card with the excitement of a child at Christmas.

She too had been chosen for the sorority of her dreams, Phi Mu.

"This is what I wanted from the get-go, and it hasn't changed and I'm really, really happy," she said. "The first time I went into the house, I just like vibed with everybody and everybody was so welcoming.

"All of the sororities are diverse but I really think that ours is - ours? This is so exciting, I just had to have that moment."

Friends Danielle Nelson and Monique Purnell also went Phi Mu. It was a relief for them to stick together, which is something they wanted from the beginning.

Then there's Debbie Thompson, watching the new sisters with tears flowing from her eyes, who also was full of relief - but for other reasons.

"I'm going to sleep for 24 hours," said Thompson, the director of the Center for Greek Life and Campus Traditions at Brenau. "Every night it's been 2 or 3 in the morning and I get home and I'm too wired up and an hour goes by and I'm like, ‘You must lay down' and I didn't go in (to work) until like 11 a.m."

Once the girls opened their bid cards, it was time for them to finally meet their new sisters.

They all got their sorority T-shirt and prepared for the traditional "run out" to the amphitheater, which was very close to total mayhem.

Each sorority, one by one, saw its new members running down the tiered concrete steps of the lawn and cheered, hugged and jumped around in pure bliss.

"They get their bid cards at 6:30 p.m.," Thompson said. "We group them by sorority and each group runs out ... they do it one (sorority) at a time. At that point even the chapter doesn't know who accepted their bids."

Within minutes there were cameras and cell phones popping out, pictures being taken everywhere. Girls were smiling and giggling, ready for their sorority life to begin.

"That's the start of their new life," Thompson said. "Once recruitment is done, we've done our job and the next step is to get them to become good new members."

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