Sorority recruitment spikes

Photo+by+Hana+Isihara+%E2%80%9817

Photo by Hana Isihara ‘17

Aidan Trevisan

Panhellenic council engages with social media and new strategies

As sorority recruiters witnessed their busiest years in their time at Lafayette, participants reflected on the reasons they may have had to be more selective.

This year witnessed the second highest number of potential new members of sororities since 2008. This year stood at 197, a 20-person jump from the average of the past three years. Distributed bids also increased by a similar amount. Some sorority members noticed the crowd.

“[A higher number of recruits] definitely did make it harder [to decide bids], because we only have so many spots,” President of Lafayette’s Panhellenic Council Amanda Schwartz ‘16 said. “But, it’s like college acceptances, if ten thousand students apply, and they only have six hundred spots…it really gets down to be a numbers game.”

Advisor to Fraternities & Sororities Dan Ayala thought that the National Panhellenic Council’s audit of sorority life on campus might have something to do with the increased numbers. The NPC is a nationwide support group for sororities across the country, and their audit resulted in three recommendations, all of which Lafayette implemented within the past year.

There may not be a connection between increased activities and higher recruitment, but there were measures taken last year that may explain the increased numbers, according to Ayala.

“I don’t know if there is a direct correlation,” Ayala said, adding that sorority life on campus made some changes to recruitment recommended by the NPC’s audit.

Their recommendations included reducing Lafayette’s Panhellenic Council from 12 to five members, decreasing the recruitment time period from four days to three, and updating sorority bylaws.

Ayala said that the reduction of the Panhellenic council on campus was meant to streamline administrative actions.

“For example we had three officers that were solely dedicated with just doing the recruitment process,” he said. One person now manages recruitment in the council.

Schwartz said she thought the smaller council made it more productive.

“I think making the council smaller makes it a lot easier for us to work together so we can be much more efficient…because I’m only working with four other women as opposed to about nine,” Schwartz said.

The recruitment process was also shortened to three days in an attempt to streamline the process, according to Ayala. Schwartz and the presidents of chapters however felt differently about the change.

“The Panhellenic Council came in and decided that we needed to take a whole night out for recruitment,” President of Kappa Kappa Gamma Emily Trojanowski ‘16 said. “Last year, when I was a junior, we had a whole different night to get to know girls and they got to know us.”

“Only having it three days definitely relieved some stress because it’s already a stressful process, and I think shortening it put more work on [the recruiters], but was better for the potential new members going through the new process,” Schwartz said.

Schwartz also said that sororities have been expanding their presence on Facebook and Instagram accounts.

“Sororities have started to promote themselves a lot more through social media and trying to get involved on campus,” she said.

On the last day of the recruitment process, bid day, the Office of Residence Life determines a quota of bids that each sorority cannot exceed. It has two purposes.

The quota number is meant to encourage sororities to have similar numbers of members as the other sororities on campus. It is also calculated to maximize the number of accepted bids, meaning it is dependent upon how well the recruitment stage goes. The more potential new members (PNM) who remain through the end of recruitment, the higher the chance that those PNMs will accept bids given to them.

“That’s probably the most unfair thing I think,” Schwartz said. “Unfortunately we can’t have 50-people pledge classes. The school is just too small, it couldn’t handle it.” Schwartz adds that it does, however, always work out in the end.

Ayala nevertheless sees a promising sign in the recent sorority recruitment patterns.

“[The high number of recruits is] encouraging, because I think we’ve seen a downward trend in involvement and registration,” Ayala said. He said that despite this trend, there is no single factor that could be said to cause this number.

Ayala did not speculate on how large recruitment could be next year, given that Lafayette’s biggest class size will become sophomores next year and eligible to join a Greek organization.

“These are nationwide recommendations; for the size of our campus, for the number of organizations that we should follow that format, and we weren’t doing that before,” Ayala said.

The audit was the first audit from this conference on record in the residence life office, and, according to Ayala, likely the first audit of its kind.