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Transgender student reveals she was rejected from every sorority at University of Alabama

She says she is disappointed because she ‘wanted to be a part of a sisterhood’

Chelsea Ritschel
New York
Wednesday 17 August 2022 19:19 BST
Related: How Does Bama Rush Take Over On TikTok?

A transgender college student has received an outpouring of support after she revealed that she was rejected from every sorority she attempted to join during the student recruitment process at the University of Alabama.

Over the last two years, incoming freshmen at the University of Alabama have taken to social media platforms such as TikTok and Instagram to document their attempts to join Greek life at the university, with the process known as Alabama Rush Week or Bama Rush. As of Wednesday, the hashtag #BamaRush has accumulated more than 1.6bn views on TikTok.

During the sorority rush period, students interested in joining one of the nearly 20 sorority chapters on the campus often document their outfits of the day, or share other tidbits of information about the recruitment process, with the videos often going viral. The popularity of the social media phenomenon has even sparked the creation of a new HBO and Vice documentary, which Variety confirmed is in the process of being filmed at the Tuscaloosa, Alabama university.

This year, Grant Sikes was one such student, with the TikToker going viral shortly after sharing her first OOTD (outfit of the day) for Bama Rush in a video shared to the platform earlier this month.

However, after a week of documenting her outfits in viral videos, and sharing updates about the process, Sikes revealed on Instagram this week that she was not extended an offer to join any of the sororities on campus.

In the lengthy post, Sikes began by thanking her friends, family and “everyone who has come along this journey with me,” before informing her followers that she’d had “the best time”.

“Unfortunately, this chapter is closed. This recruitment journey is over for me. Being dropped from my last house this morning during primary recruitment at the University of Alabama doesn’t come as a surprise considering out of the almost 20 chapters, I was dropped by every single one except two before day one,” Sikes wrote, while noting that the two sororities were Gamma Phi Beta and Kappa Alpha Theta.

In the post, Sikes then said that she is hopeful for a future where “everyone is welcomed for just being themselves, everywhere” before urging those struggling through a hard time to remember that “life is too short to ponder on the things lost”.

“Choose happiness and always look for the positive things throughout life. Move on. See the good. See the bad. Hope for the best. Brave the worst,” she continued.

Sikes concluded the post revealing that, despite not being invited to join a sorority on campus, many “amazing opportunities” still came her way throughout the process.

“Looking back on this past week, SO many amazing opportunities have come my way. In my initial application papers, I paid tribute to my grandma who passed away this year with Alzheimer’s. I know that she is so proud,” she wrote. “Nana, this is just the beginning.”

In a video shared to TikTok, Sikes also elaborated on her experience being cut from the recruitment process, with the TikToker explaining that she’d received a phone call informing her of the decision.

“It is extremely upsetting and I’m sad because I wanted to be a part of a sisterhood, and more than that, a community,” she told her more than 114,000 followers.

Sikes then admitted that she had been hoping for a call informing her that it had been a mistake and that she was invited to “bid day,” the last day of sorority recruitment, when potential new members officially become members of the sorority they received a bid to.

“I don’t even know what to say,” Sikes continued. “Thank you all so much for following along. And thank you all for the love and support. I love you.”

In the caption of the video, which has since been viewed more than 2.2m times, Sikes added: “Thank you all. It really means a lot.”

In response to Sikes’ update, her followers on both Instagram and TikTok have shared messages of support, and assured the university student that she has found a community through her social media.

“You found a community and sisterhood here. Thanks for taking us along for the ride,” one person wrote, while another said: “Love you and you can be my sister anytime.”

“Grant your community is RIGHT HERE. Please keep posting and sharing about your life. We aren’t going anywhere,” someone else wrote.

Others took the opportunity to condemn the “outdated” rush process for sororities, with some viewers suggesting that Greek life at universities can be “toxic”.

“Hugs to you Grant. The rush process isn’t fair for anyone and it’s so outdated. We love you so much and you are never alone,” one person wrote.

Another said: “To be honest, southern Greek life is toxic. You’re going to thrive without it,” while someone else added: “I’m so sorry. The rush process is disappointing, you deserve every bid and I hope Bama can move past outdated practices.”

In a statement to The Independent, a spokesperson for the University of Alabama said: “The University of Alabama and the Alabama Panhellenic Association do not have authority over a sorority’s individual membership decisions, which are confidential and left to the discretion of each self-governing sorority. As private member organisations, each sorority has its own membership selection criteria, policies and procedures, often governed by the chapter’s national organisation.

“The National Panhellenic Conference determines Panhellenic recruitment eligibility and allows those who consistently live and self-identify as a woman to participate in the Panhellenic recruitment process, provided they are a full-time student and have never been initiated into an NPC sorority. Panhellenic sorority recruitment is a mutual selection process, meaning participation does not guarantee an invitation to join a sorority, nor does it obligate a participant to join a sorority.”

The Independent has contacted Sikes for comment.

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