Sorority recruitment numbers continue to rise

Sorority sisters rejoice on Bid Day. // Photo courtesy UM Panhellenic via Facebook
Sorority sisters rejoice on Bid Day. // Photo courtesy UM Panhellenic via Facebook

Before spring semester began, hundreds of students arrived on campus a week early to participate in the Panhellenic Association’s spring recruitment week.

Also known as rush, recruitment gives women the opportunity to learn more about the University of Miami’s eight National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) sorority chapters and to join the Greek community.

Over the past four years, there has been a steady rise in the number of participants in recruitment. In 2011, there were roughly 400 women signed up for recruitment. In spring of 2014, there were 606.

As a result, the new member quotas set by the Panhellenic Association for each chapter have risen to accommodate the growing number. This year, the new member cap was 59 women for each chapter.

However, not all of the participants in recruitment end up finding their place in Greek life. Numbers from 2015 recruitment appear striking at first glance: Out of roughly 670 registered recruitment participants, only around 470 bids, or invitations to join a chapter, were extended.

While these numbers may suggest exclusivity or competitiveness to those outside the Greek community, Vice President of Recruitment Jacqueline Rossman-Reich, a fifth-year senior and sister of Kappa Kappa Gamma, says that many factors account for the large discrepancy.

“It seems like a huge drop, but in reality a lot of those are voluntary withdrawals,” Rossman-Reich said. “We started the week itself with only about 640 participants. [Then] some women did not want to complete recruitment for a variety of reasons …We have a lot of situations where girls just found during the week that Greek life was not for them. So a huge chunk comes from that.”

She also cited scheduling conflicts and personal commitments, particularly with athletic activities, as reasons for withdrawal.

According to Rossman-Reich, at the end of the week, there were “very few” women, out of those who completed recruitment, who did not receive a bid. She did not disclose the exact number.

The Panhellenic Association’s formal recruitment period took place from Jan. 7 to 11, before the first week of classes. Potential new members (PNMs) went through a series of social events, or “parties,” designed to help them learn about each sorority chapter, as well as help each chapter get to know the PNMs.

“Rush week was intense,” said freshman Olivia Sacks, who pledged Sigma Delta Tau. “I didn’t realize the amount of hours that would be spent talking to complete strangers, and in the end of the day, I often had a sore throat and raspy voice. However, when I found a sorority I could easily talk to and felt comfortable with, these short conversations were enjoyable and I even made friends.”

Recruitment followed an elimination format, in which PNMs had to choose fewer chapters to return to on each subsequent day. Likewise, chapters had to narrow down the number of PNMs to ask back to their events.

To accomplish this, Rossman-Reich’s recruitment team used a reciprocal ranking system to create the best matches between PNMs and the chapters.

“It’s always a little scary or nerve-wracking, even for me, because you always want the girls to have options that they like,” Rossman-Reich said. “It’s a little disheartening because you want people to be happy, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen. I think overall, girls have a great time going through recruitment. If you just be yourself and try to make the most out of it, the girls that go through with that attitude will have the best experience.”

According to Sacks, many of the PNMs did.

“Throughout the week, a lot of girls were dejected when dropped from their initial sorority of choice,” she said. “But, on bid day, mostly everyone is wearing a smile as they found their right pick. Sometimes it takes getting dropped or dropping a sorority you like to illuminate where you’re really supposed to be.”