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6 February 2013

Panhellenic Association grows in numbers, popularity

Freshman Lauren Friedman was one of more than 500 girls that signed up for sorority recruitment this spring, after a semester of Panhellenic marketing material reading, “nothing you expected, but everything you were looking for.”

“I was very overwhelmed by the number of girls rushing and was afraid that I would get dropped because there were so many girls,” said Friedman, a new member of Sigma Delta Tau.

About 530 girls signed up for sorority recruitment this year, according to Caitlin Giles, president of the Panhellenic Association and member of Alpha Delta Pi. Of these more than 500 girls, 460 actually went through the recruitment process, and 430 received bids on Bid Day.

“I think it all worked out for most people,” Friedman said.

While most schools recruit in similar ways, Greek life at the University of Miami is much smaller, according to Giles.

“We only have seven sororities currently,” Giles said. “The National Panhellenic Council has 24 member organizations, and some campuses have all 24 sororities.”

However, sorority recruitment grows every year, Giles said. The number of girls that signed up for recruitment increased by 6 percent from the year prior, according to data from Associate Dean of Students Tony Lake.

“All the sorority women are so involved on campus, not only in leadership roles, but simply by their presence in classes and other events such as Homecoming,” she said. “There are more and more people walking around wearing letters, participating in events, and spreading the word that Greek life is an amazing experience that everyone should consider becoming a part of.”

In fact, the percentage of students on campus that have gone Greek – including fraternity brothers – has jumped from 12 percent to about 20 percent, according to data from the Dean of Students’ Office.

Recruitment follows the same format yearly, but next year, a new sorority will be recruiting: Chi Omega. Women who dropped out of the formal recruitment process this semester are still eligible to join and be a founding member of Chi Omega at UM.

“Hopefully some women who didn’t find their fit during recruitment will be open-minded about starting a brand new sorority,” Giles said.

The addition of Chi Omega will help to bridge the Greek life-sized gap between UM and other schools, but size is not the only difference between UM Panhellenic life and that of other schools.

“The most important difference is that UM Panhellenic life is not the stereotypical sorority that you see in mass media,” Giles said. “We do not haze, and there are no huge rivalries between the sororities.”

About a year’s worth of planning went into this year’s 430 bids, Giles said.

“We select Recruitment Guides, Rho Gammas, in the spring to be trained during the fall semester,” Giles said. “They act as unbiased guides for their group of girls during recruitment.”

Senior Rocio Camusso was a Rho Gamma for the second time this year. A member of Zeta Tau Alpha, she said she loved the process.

Although it is a hefty commitment, which includes disaffiliation from one’s own sorority, Camusso appreciated being a Rho Gamma because she “wanted all of her girls to end up really happy regardless of which sorority they joined.”

Friedman appreciated her Rho Gamma for her advice.

“I was a little confused after a few sororities dropped me, and she talked to me and made me feel a lot better,” she said. “I was so happy when I found out that she was in my sorority on Bid Day.”

Giles said Greek life is about friendship and opportunity.

“It offers a huge network of friends, instant leadership opportunities and a nationwide network to something bigger than just the school itself,” she said.

And for those 430 girls who received bids, Panhellenic Life promises to be “nothing that you expected, but everything you were looking for.”

“It is just that special,” she said.