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Max Documentary Review: BAMA RUSH

by Erica Scassellati
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In 2021, the process of Rushing at the University of Alabama went viral on TikTok. The media frenzy sparked an idea in director Rachel Fleit for a documentary following preparations for Rush 2022 at the same university.MaxDoc_BamaRush

Bama Rush begins in October 2021 by introducing four young women who plan to Rush at the University of Alabama in 2022. Two of these women, Shelby and Isabelle, hope to Rush their freshman year. The other pair, Holliday and Makalya intend to Rush as sophomores.

The documentary makes it clear that Rushing at the University of Alabama is a cutthroat process, whether the girls want it that way or not. Several of these young women meet with “Rush consultants” to prepare for the process. Yes, there are real people who coach girls on how to get into a sorority for a living.

The film shows that every part of sorority life is about putting your best foot forward. Katie, an active member of Zeta Tua Alpha, points out to cameras that no one is posting about getting a C on a chemistry test after 12 hours of studying.

Sororities have rules with varying degrees of strictness. Some rules, like bans on drinking in sorority letters, might seem fair enough. Others, like no wet hair on the first floor, are downright odd. “The culture at Alabama is f***ing” weird,” says Rian, an active member of Sigma Kappa.

MaxDoc_BamaRushPicRian belongs to what many girls in the doc referred to as a “low-tier” sorority. How exactly is the rank of each sorority at the University of Alabama determined? No one in this documentary seems to know for sure. However, the general consensus seems to be that sororities with the hottest girls and richest families have a major advantage.

Yet the documentary barely scratches the surface of the level of privilege that goes into getting into a high-tier sorority at the University of Alabama. A sentence explaining that the average annual cost for new members of a sorority in Alabama is $8,300 flashes across the screen, and then the show moves on.

Fleit’s documentary touches on the racist history surrounding Greek life. Rian tells of a few instances of experiencing strange behavior and comments from other sorority girls. Makayla briefly speaks on her experiences as a person of mixed-race heritage. The documentary mentions that Greek life at the university was effectively segregated until 2013. Still other than that, Bama Rush doesn’t dive much deeper.

An even more troubling aspect of Greek life was completely ignored in the documentary:  the institution’s history with sexual assault. Isabelle tells a heartwrenching story of being sexually assaulted just weeks before coming to the University of Alabama. For her, college and sorority life seems to have been a fresh start.MaxDoc_BamaRushPic2

Yet the documentary should perhaps have made note of some disturbing statistics. Our Wave writes of research that has found that fraternity men are three times more likely to sexually assault a woman than non-affiliated classmates. Women in sororities are 74% more likely to be raped than other college women.

What does the documentary talk about instead? Fleit pops in at various times to discuss her own struggles with alopecia. The director equates her experiences with feeling othered in her youth to the girl’s experiences as they Rush at Alabama. The analogy falls flat, to say the least.

Later in the documentary’s filming, rumors began to swirl that this film would involve putting mics on girls and sending them undercover into sorority houses. This never happened, but it did cause quite a panic. One young woman was even kicked out of Rushing when sorority members mistook her hair tie for a mic.

Those who were concerned that Bama Rush would reveal some unbelievable, earth-shattering scandals that would bring down Greek Life once and for all might have saved themself the headache. While the documentary is an in-depth look at the process of Rushing, it fails to offer any truly jaw-dropping details or to address the real issues surrounding Greek Life.

Bama Rush is now available on Max. Curious about the hype surrounding Rush? Take it in, but it isn’t the definitive answer. 

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