Some of the new “babies” of Northwestern a capella felt anxiety, relief and excitement Sunday night as they waited for news of acceptance and, later, went through initiation. Late that night, various a capella groups “kidnapped” new members to celebrate the newcomers’ welcome into the selective community.
Leading up to his kidnapping, freshman Dana Hinchliffe of Thunk stayed up playing video games, trying to pass time before finding out if he made the cut.
“I was anxious the whole night,” he said. “I eventually fell asleep, but they knocked on my door just after midnight, and they were very loud and trying to be scary but it was really fun and goofy.”
Although he knew what to expect because his sister, junior Holly Hinchliffe, was initiated in the same way, when the members of Thunk finally arrived they threw a sweatshirt over his head and led him to a car outside of Sargent dining hall.
“Initially when I was told I got into Thunk, I didn’t feel like I really earned it because my sister is the president. But right when I got [to the off campus house], I was told that Holly was muted throughout my entire voting process,” Hinchliffe said. “So the fact that I got in due to my own work made me feel better. That was validating.”
Freshman Katie Song didn’t even expect she would get in to the X-Factors. By 11:30 p.m. Sunday night, “it was so late that I figured that I just didn’t get in,” she explained.
However, right as she was telling her roommate that she was certain she didn’t make the cut, she heard pounding on the door, and opened it to X-Factors members screaming and celebrating her with a giant signed welcome poster.
After surprising three more fresh recruits, they headed to a senior’s apartment for the night. “We literally just talked and got to know each other,” Song said. She says she’s excited to be a part of the family.
New Extreme Measures member freshman Ashley Capoot also described the process as “stressful.” Extreme Measures was the group that she ‘preffed’ when ranking the groups that she got called back for. So when EM pulled her out of her dorm at 12:30 a.m. to go grab milkshakes, she was relieved.
Undertones freshman Jay Towns was surprised by the popularity of a capella at Northwestern. “I love that there’s such a huge community of people who are passionate about a capella music, it’s never something that I would have expected to be such a big deal and I love that it is,” he said.
He says he’s most excited for forming relationships with his a capella group.
“A lot of the groups tell me that the most that they get out of an a capella group isn’t the music, it’s the relationships. So I think that’s pretty cool.”
Freshman Tanvi Nayak felt particularly drawn to Brown Sugar’s song choices.
“I know there’s a lot of awesome a capella groups, but I liked how this one does a lot of Indian songs and combines them with American songs,” she said.
She knew it was difficult to get in, and given the long process of auditioning, callbacks and learning a new part of a song, she was nervous when the group finally showed up.
Sophomore Jack McKessy had a different view of the audition process because he had been in a different a capella group his freshman year. As one of the few sophomores who made it into an a capella group, he already felt “more comfortable with the whole process and how it worked.”
He says he went in with more confidence, knowing he had the ability to sing. McKessy was finishing homework and getting ready for bed when the boys rushed into the Phi Delt house and banged on his door.
“I opened the door and they all started screaming and shoving me around, it was super hype.”
Afterwards, they all went to the off-campus Asterik house and listened to loud music and “ate obscene amounts of Skinny Pop.”
Freshman Svayam Dialani also got surprised by Asterik waiting for him outside of his dorm.
“It was like a rite of passage into the little family that they have,” he said.
Dialani says he looks forward to the connections he hopes will stay with him even after college. He described the bonding as a “precursor for all the things that are to come in the future.”
The a capella groups have already started rehearsing and students can expect performances within the coming month.