It’s Bama Rush season on TikTok again. What you need to know about the RushTok phenomenon

A large group of young women with arms raised during sorority recruitment.
Young women during sorority recruitment at the University of Alabama in a scene from the Max documentary “Bama Rush.”
(Warner Bros. Discovery)
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She’s wearing a pink satin Amanda Uprichard halter dress, Betsey Johnson flower earrings, a gold bracelet she received from her aunt and Gianni Bini heels. Last month, she submitted a one-minute video introducing herself to the 19 chapters of the University of Alabama Panhellenic Association. Now, it’s the first day of sisterhood and Jaylah is waiting, along with 2,000 young women, to see if she will receive a bid from her sorority of choice.

Better known as RushTok, the phenomenon of PNMs (potential new members) documenting on social media, primarily TikTok, their experiences at each stage of the recruitment process has spread like wildfire. The social media trend has grown into an online subculture that’s already gotten the documentary treatment from Max.

From invitation-only parties to strict dress codes, there’s a lot to learn. And with 2023 recruitment events well underway, here’s everything you need to know about the TikTok phenomenon known as RushTok.


Plus, Shudder’s psychological thriller “Influencer” and the grim Russian drama “Unclenching the Fists.”

May 26, 2023

What are Bama Rush and RushTok?

RushTok, which primarily features videos of PNMs describing their OOTD (outfit of the day) for each of the main sorority events at Southern universities, is a way for those rushing to document and share their experiences with the recruitment process.

The phenomenon first gained popularity on TikTok in the summer of 2021, when campuses reopened post-pandemic, with hashtags #BamaRush and #RushTok. Content ranges from simple OOTD videos to earnest confessions about the difficulty of each round in the highly competitive recruitment process. With the University of Alabama at the epicenter of the sensation, the hashtag BamaRush has garnered more than 3.3 billion views on TikTok to date while #RushTok has generated 1.5 billion.

Videos, for the most part, retain the same structure: an announcement of the recruitment event and activity of the day, followed by a piece-by-piece outfit walk-through. Some of the popular brands the recruits name-check include Kendra Scott, Steve Madden and fast-fashion favorite Shein. They feature primarily thin, white women; most are blond with curly hair and Southern accents. The homogeneous nature of these videos has inspired parodies online, to make light of the hyper-specific niche that rush culture tends to subscribe to.

More recently, select houses have choreographed dances to share on TikTok, using high-energy pop songs and bright colors to show off their sororities.

RushTok has essentially become its own reality TV show, with students, hyper-aware of their image, vying for spots in the sorority of their choosing. It’s exclusive, it’s public and it’s oh so entertaining.

TikTok’s design encourages manic performance and a false sense of intimacy — all of it obscuring the power of its invisible algorithms.

Jan. 4, 2023

What else is RushTok teaching us?

Both #BamaRush and #RushTok have reignited conversations about legacies of racism associated with the University of Alabama. The university officially desegregated its sorority system in 2013, following allegations about discrimination in the sorority recruitment process. Some have also used the hashtags to educate the public about the history of racism, elitism and sexism associated with many of these institutions, offering a more complete picture of the internet phenomenon and Greek life.


Who are some of the key ‘players to watch’ in Bama Rush 2023?

Bella Grace speaks openly and honestly about her anxieties surrounding the recruitment process, a vulnerability that appeals to her (growing) audience. With her Lilly Pulitzer duvet cover visible in every video, she brings her own style (and ray of sunshine) to the Bama Rush scene.

Former Miss Colorado Teen USA Allison has also gained a big following on TikTok, using humor to shed light on how exhausting the recruitment process can be. She has voted on her favorite houses, but is keeping them a secret for now, as fans eagerly wait for bids to be announced.

Emma Gil De Rubio wears Kendra Scott necklaces and bracelets from Amazon. Her OOTDs feature thrifted pieces, promoting a sustainable approach to the rush dress code.

Isabella McGinnis shares her OOTDs alongside her roommates, who are also rushing, with a bubbly personality to relieve the stress of recruitment.

What does the Bama Rush recruitment process look like?

Recruitment at the University of Alabama began Aug. 12 and runs through Aug. 20, when those rushing find out whether they‘ve been accepted into their chosen sorority. Sororities vote at the end of each round for their top candidates, which culminates in a final selection ceremony on bid day.

The process is divided into multiple rounds over the course of six days, including convocation, philanthropy, sisterhood, preference and bid day.


During convocation, PNMs have the opportunity to learn about each sorority on campus and introduce themselves.

Philanthropy runs over the course of the following three days (Aug. 13-15 this year), where PNMS learn about each chapter‘s volunteer work.

The sisterhood round is next, allowing PNMs to get to know sorority members better through one-on-one conversations that are carefully observed by each chapter.

The next day, PNMs choose their two favorite houses during preference night.

Bids are announced the following day, via email, at which point newly accepted members will visit their chapter house later in the afternoon.