What do surprises, secrecy, hundreds of color-coded young adults and Miller Fountain have in common? This Friday is the annual Bid Day, where Trinity’s fraternities and sororities finally accept their new active members after a season of getting to know each other with parties and activities.
In the week leading up to Bid Day, Greek organizations begin to decide which students they want for their fraternities and sororities and cast their “bids.” Potential new members (PNMs) rank their top three organizations. On Bid Day, PNMs find out which organization has given them a bid. The celebration reaches its climax at the fountain, where students join their chosen organizations and celebrate together.
“People have gone through a really long process, and [Bid Day] is an exciting time,” said Amani Canada, junior and Zeta Chi member. “From our side, we’re hoping for people because we’ve already voted on them, and it’s still a surprise when when they come because it’s like they chose your organization to find a home in.”
The rush process at Trinity begins in September, when prospective fraternity and sorority members begin to mingle with active Greeks. Some prospective members go on “rush dates” where they can get to know active members over lunch or an activity.
Each organization has three “rounds” — which sometimes take the form of parties, but are often more casual large-group activities such as eating breakfast or playing video games. Rounds give PNMs the opportunity to decide which, if any, Greek life organization is right for them. The first and second rounds are open to any student who has signed up for the Greek Life Master Recruitment List online, and the third round is invite-only to students who have participated in previous events and made a connection with one or more organizations.
Third round events are the last chance of the year for students to learn about the Greek organizations and make a choice, and the last for the organizations to get to know their potential recruits before Bid Day.
Sophomore Michael Masuo, Greek Council men’s chair and Chi Delta Tau member, gave his perspective on Bid Day.
“As men’s chair, it’s so exciting to see like all these people joining the community and having all these different but amazing people add to our community. As a Delt, I’ve been helping these new guys rush, and I’m excited for these guys to add value to our club,” Masuo said.
Miller Fountain has always been the center of Bid Day ceremonies, but many faculty members who were in Greek Life as students remember when the fountain was on the other side of campus, near Chapman.
Jacob Tingle, director of Experiential Learning and Omega Phi (O-Phi) alum, recalled when Bid Day rituals and celebrations started at 9 or 10 a.m. and lasted into the evening.
“If you were an active member, unless you had a test, you just wouldn’t show up to class. As an administrator, I find it absolutely bizarre that the university would operate in that way,” Tingle said.
Tingle also remembers separate ceremonies for men and women.
“The girls went to a separate building, but when I was a student the fountain was the focal point for fraternities during Bid Day. The president of [Interfraternity Council] would tape the bids onto the pillars in front of Coates [Student Center],” Tingle said. “As an adult, it feels strange and gendered that the girls had to go to a private building, while the frats would be out in the open.”
Tingle’s alumni perspective helps him appreciate Greek life’s role in building friendships.
“As an alum and faculty adviser for the SPURS, so much about Bid Day takes me back to my own first-year experience, but also I have this separate ‘old man’ perspective where I can appreciate that many of these girls [in SPURS] might be making friends for life,” Tingle said. “Some of my closest friends today, people whose kids are my kids’ friends, are from my Trinity days as an O-Phi.”
According to Heather Haynes Smith, assistant professor of education and Chi Beta Epsilon alumna, there was a vow of silence that PNMs had to take in the ’90s when she attended Trinity. This vow of silence began at midnight the night before Bid Day and finally ended that afternoon, when the new Betas became active members by the fountain.
“I remember that we stayed up until midnight on the quad the night before Bid Day, just talking, until we had to be silent,” Haynes Smith said. “There was so much pressure. We walked from Chapman to the fountain in silence, and as soon as you hit the bushes, people would see you, and things would just erupt.”
Haynes Smith, who attended Trinity from 1993 to 1997, said that many key aspects of Bid Day — and the general atmosphere of Trinity Greek life — have remained the same.
“So many of the names for the rounds and parties haven’t changed from when I was a student 25 years ago, like Breakfast with the Betas has the same name from when I was a Beta,” Haynes Smith said.
For Aliza Holzman-Cantu, director of Parent Giving and Engagement and Gamma Chi Delta alumna, the evening after Bid Day was even more memorable than the event itself.
“That night, I found out who my big sister was, and then she took me to a pizza party with the rest of my pledge class, and I met everybody else, which was nice because I didn’t know many people in my pledge class,” Cantu said. “Then they took us to Taco Cabana where I met the rest of the club. … It was fun and I just remember being happy.”
Bid Day is both a beginning and an end, as Jamie Thompson, director of Student Involvement and Gamma Chi Delta alumna, explained.
“Bid Day is the beginning of the two-to-four-week orientation period where [new members] are formally learning about the organization’s values and history, creating stronger relationships and bonds with their new active class and the rest of the organization, connecting with alumni in certain instances, overnight retreats, ropes courses, things like that,” Thompson said. “It represents this moment in time where one component ends and another starts and at its core is really just a celebration of new members [entering] the organization.”
As orientation season begins, the few weeks following Bid Day are filled with group bonding and activities that are particular to each organization.
“[Orientation] is technically pledgeship, but we don’t use that phrase because ‘pledge’ comes with the connotation of hazing,” Carson Bolding, sophomore and Alpha Chi Lambda member, wrote in an email interview. “[Orientation] activities are mostly secret, but they’re meant to promote bonding among the new active class and teach them about the history and traditions of the club!”
For Thompson, the most important part of Bid Day is how it facilitates strong social networks that encourage many students to stay at Trinity.
“As a staff member and educator, understanding the ins and outs of the institution, [Bid Day] for me is about the potential for students to find their community and engage in meaningful ways and therefore be retained on campus and … ultimately to get them across the stage in four years and graduate, which should be the goal of all of our students, all of our student organizations, all of our athletic teams,” Thompson said.
Additional reporting by Maria Zaharatos
| Class of 2021 | Majors: English and Anthropology |