Over the past two weekends, the University’s eight Panhellenic sorority chapters performed their annual spring formal recruitment. However, this year was markedly different than previous years, characterized by a delayed starting date and an all virtual format. Despite all the challenges posed by the pandemic, the sorority chapters maintained their enthusiasm for adding new sisters to their families and pulled off a successful Spring 2021 recruitment.
Nearly 600 women registered this year to become PNMs (potential new members) and participate in the formal recruitment process. After filling out a registration form, paying a recruitment fee and passing basic GPA requirements, women were separated into groups, each led by a recruitment counselor, or Rho Gamma. Rho Gammas are members of sororities selected by the Panhellenic Council to assist PNMs through the recruitment process, providing them both logistical and emotional support throughout the process. Rho Gammas are required to disaffiliate from their sororities during recruitment in order to offer their PNMs completely unbiased support.
Sophie Sanchez, a member of Alpha Phi, served as the Rho Gamma for Group 37. “I wanted to be there for PNMs going through the recruitment process, whether through the exciting parts or through the tougher parts when they just needed someone to talk to,” she said.
Before the commencement of formal recruitment, all PNMs participated in a listening circle hosted by their Rho Gammas, discussing racial justice and the problematic history of Greek Life. The girls reflected on and discussed questions, including how they can be better allies of the BIPOC community and support the Black Lives Matter movement.
However, many people believed that the listening circles fell short of adequately addressing Greek life’s exclusionary history.
Among those was Katelyn Tsai, the Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Alpha Gamma Delta, who explained, “We discussed topics relating to race and racial violence in general, but did not apply those topics to the ostracism of BIPOC in our own organizations.”
Recruitment kicked off on Friday, Mar. 19 with “Meet the Chapters.” During this initial round, PNMs met with each chapter for 30 minutes to learn more about them and their values. They watched a video or listened to a presentation before joining breakout rooms to get to know some of the sisters. The University’s eight Panhellenic sorority chapters are Alpha Phi, Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Gamma Delta, Chi Omega, Delta Gamma, Kappa Delta and Kappa Kappa Gamma.
Recruitment continued that weekend with each group meeting four chapters on Saturday and the remaining four on Sunday for “Sisterhood Round.” During these 45 minute rounds, PNMs were given the opportunity for more extended conversations before ranking which ones they would most like to return to for Philanthropy Round.
Friday, Mar. 26 was marked with excitement, anxiety and an array of emotions as Rho Gammas called each PNM to tell them which sororities they would be going back to the following day.
Madison Moser, a Stanford Resident Assistant and member of Alpha Phi, sent a text to her residents saying “Just a reminder that your self worth is not defined by whether or not a sorority invited you back!! You are all lovely beautiful women!!”. She explained that “hearing which sororities invited you back and which didn’t is always an emotional process and it was hard to watch my residents go through that, but it was so sweet to hear them remind each other that it’s not as big of a deal as they had made it out to be.”
The following day, women returned to each chapter for 50 minutes for Philanthropy Round to learn more about each sorority’s philanthropy, or the charity they raise money for. For many girls, this was a very emotional round, discussing important causes like Delta Delta Delta’s support of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Alpha Chi Omega’s support of domestic violence survivors. Following this round, the PNMs were asked to rank again, with the opportunity of possibly returning to their top two choices for Preference Round the following day.
Preference Round serves as the last chance for PNMs to decide which sorority they see themselves fitting in best. In most cases, they have the opportunity to speak to people they got along with best in previous rounds. Following Preference Round, PNMs met with a Panhellenic Council member, either signing a Membership Recruitment Acceptance Binding Agreement (MRABA) or withdrawing from the process. The MRABA ensures that a PNM will accept a bid if given one from any of the two sororities she ranks.
On Monday, March 29, the long hours of Zoom recruitment finally paid off, as sororities were able to expand their families with the addition of new “babies'' on Bid Day. Women were emailed their bids at 7 p.m. and invited to a follow-up Zoom with their new sorority to celebrate.
Kate Dillman, recruitment chair for Chi Omega, explained that in planning an all-virtual recruitment, “Expectations were hard...but it was good in the end and all that matters is our chapter was really happy with all of the new members...The end result was perfect.”