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5 Ways We Can Fix Sorority Recruitment

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It’s that wonderful time of the year again, the countdown to sorority recruitment! I cannot count the ways that sorority membership changed my life for the better, and a year ago I decided I wanted to help other young women find their home like I found mine. To do this, I applied to be a recruitment counselor, or Rho Gamma. I was so excited going into fall recruitment! I would get to mentor an amazing group of young women as they made one of the top five most important decisions of their college career—choosing a major, deciding to move off campus, deciding whether or not to graduate early and deciding whether or not to take that last shot of tequila were the rest of my top five.

What I didn’t realize was that after the process, I was going to hate sororities just a little bit. There were five main things that bothered me about recruitment, both for the PNMs (or potential new members) and for the active sisters.

1. The timing of recruitment.

The problem:

Recruitment happens later at my school than at most, but it still happens really early in the year. This means incoming freshman and transfer students, who make up the majority of the people going through recruitment, have little to no time to join other clubs or make other friends before they're thrown into sorority life head first leaving little time to do these things until the new member period is over. The result is that the bulk of girls in sororities only have friends in Greek life for at least the first year of college, a pattern that could and often does continue for the next few years.

Recruitment events, at least at my school, often start around 4:00 on week days. If a PNM has an afternoon class, labs often being in the afternoon, they need to choose to go to class or go to the recruitment event. We obviously tell PNMs to go to class, but sometimes especially in the later rounds, going to class means that they are guaranteed to get cut from a chapter. PNMs will often choose to go to the recruitment event because, “It’s only one missed class,” but they miss the point that by choosing to do so they are setting the precedent that their social life is more important than their academics.

The solution:

Formal recruitment should happen either at the end of the first semester, or at the beginning of the spring semester. Events should only happen after 6:00 in the evening or on weekends, or even the week before spring semester starts, so no class time is missed.

2. The superficial selection process.

The problem:

Recruitment parties are short. I know when I was recruiting for my chapter I rarely had time to get past name, grade, major, and what they were currently watching on Netflix; before I was whisked away to talk to someone else, or the party was over. This means I have to judge whether or not a PNM is a good fit for my chapter after knowing her for a total of five minutes. It doesn’t just work one way either; a PNM has maybe a half an hour on the first day to decide if she felt that a chapter could be her home for the next four years.

The solution:

PNMs should have the opportunity to create a profile and answer some basic personality questions. Think OkCupid but for sororities. On the first day of recruitment each PNM would be matched with an active sister, or two, in each chapter with some common interests. The active sisters would start by giving a short speech about why she chose her chapter, and why that chapter is special and unique. Then they could launch into conversation immediately without having to worry about the basic questions because that information is in the PNM's profile and can easily be reviewed later.

3. The rules surrounding active members.

The problem:

This has less to do with PNMs and more to do with active sisters. There are sets of rules actives must follow in the time before, and during recruitment. Some are fair, like not being able to socialize with PNMs outside of recruitment events. Others are bogus, like not being able to go to frat parties the month leading up to recruitment, amongst other things. The “frat ban” is said to prevent dirty rushing, but come on, dirty rushing happens no matter what. What it really does is paint a picture that the young women in sororities don’t party. Creating an image that partying is something to be ashamed of, and if something bad happens, it’s a woman’s fault because they were doing something wrong.

The solution:

No frat ban. It’s really that simple.

4. The rejection process.

The problem:

This one is pretty self-explanatory, and the hardest one to get around. Unfortunately there are often more PNMs than space in sororities. A recent University of Pennsylvania study found that sorority membership overall helped young women’s self esteem, but immediately after recruitment, their self esteem was at a low, even if they were selected for a chapter. This is because even if a PNM is offered a place in a chapter, it may not be her top choice chapter, and she has to wonder why the chapter she loved so much doesn’t love her back. Then there are the girls who get cut completely; at my school this year it was fortunately only 12. Some of them were due to glitches in the computer system used for recruitment, but some just got cut from all chapters.

The solution:

A time during each day of recruitment, either before or after all of the day’s events, where the recruitment chairs for all chapters should be able to meet with any PNM who was cut from their chapter and discuss the decision. For the young women who get cut completely, there should be post recruitment process where they are able to reach out to chapter they fell in love with and discuss the opportunity to talk to the chapter more and possibly receive a bid, assuming that their new member class is not already at capacity. All PNM’s would have the opportunity to clear the air with chapters and get some answers, and if a PNM was cut due to a glitch it could be resolved quickly and they would still have the opportunity to join a chapter.

5. The double standards.

The problem:

Ask any young women in a sorority what they think of recruitment and they will say that it is the most stressful time of the year, but then if you ask young men in fraternities the same questions, they’ll often shrug and say recruitment is just a kind of annoying time suck. This is because fraternities can choose how and when they recruit and don’t do so as a collective group of organizations. They can use burgers, beers, and boobs to recruit their new members; on the other hand if a sorority woman even mentions drinking during recruitment, she could be facing a potential fine. This sets the standard that women need to be controlled and monitored, while men can choose to do whatever they want.

The solution:

Bring together the sorority and fraternity governing boards to set one campus-wide recruitment standard incorporating the best parts of fraternity and sorority recruitment.

The good parts of sorority recruitment:

·       PNMs visit every chapter

·       It happens at the same time for every chapter

·       There is a centralized computer system for all PNMs and chapters

The good parts of fraternity recruitment:

·       The activities of each event are planned by the members of fraternities

·       There are not ridiculous rules about what members can do and say before and during recruitment

·       They can drink, cause honestly at the end of recruitment all I want is a drink

These are my issues with the way recruitment is run at my school. I hope at least some of these issues hit home for young women other schools, and I hope most of all that it starts a conversation. That conversation will be the catalyst for eventual change, and I hope it happens sooner rather than later. 


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