Sigma Delta pilots shake-out for rush

by Megan Clyne | 1/4/16 8:57pm

Sigma Delta sorority will pilot a shake-out process to recruit potential new members for the winter term. The sorority will not participate in formal recruitment this winter, according to an early Monday morning email announcement by the Pan-Hellenic Council.

Panhell has no current plans to continue the new shake-out process in the fall, Panhell vice president of operations Kate Healy wrote in a follow-up email to The Dartmouth.

PNMs will be allowed to both participate in formal recruitment and shake-out at Sigma Delt and Episilon Kappa Theta sorority, which moved exclusively to shake-outs in the fall of 2014.

Sigma Delt expects to extend around 10 to 20 bids, an estimate approved by Panhell, Sigma Delt winter rush chair Jordana Composto ’16 said.

Sigma Delt’s process will include three open houses and a shake-out, she said.

The shake-out will take place between round two and preference night of formal recruitment. During this time, women interested in becoming members of the sorority must write down their names to be considered for a bid, Composto said.

Bids can be accepted or declined by PNMs until 10 p.m. on preference night, Jan. 19, at which point they must drop out of formal recruitment if they wish to accept a Sigma Delt bid.

The process gives PNMs more time to figure out if Sigma Delt is a good fit for them, Composto said. It also encourages women to find commonalities with other people in the house in order to create a rich community, she added.

A group of about fifteen sisters of Sigma Delt from different class years, both on and off the house’s executive board, worked on the proposal to Panhell to move to the shake-out system over five terms, Composto said. Their engagement with Panhell started last spring, and the house unanimously voted last term in favor of a pilot this winter.

Composto said that the traditional rush process made many members feel conflicted.

“Rush has always left our house uncomfortable,” she said. “It’s been a long, fragile process.”

The Sigma Delt members have worked to craft a strong and concrete proposal, Panhell recruitment chair and a member of the house Abigail Hartley ’16 said.

The open houses will have a laid-back, structure, Composto said.

“It’s come and go as you please — you can stop by for five minutes or stay for two hours,” Composto said.

The benefit of the open house is that women who attend can decide how much time they need to familiarize themselves with the house, Composto said.

Open houses will include casual activities such as finger painting and mingling, she said. All sisters are required to be present.

“We take very seriously the vulnerability that PNMs show in rushing,” Composto said. “We want to create an honest representation of our house, and there’s nothing more honest than the members of our house.”

The shake-out will be held from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 18. She noted that interested women should expect to be spend about 30 minutes at the shake-out event.

Sally Kim ’16, president of EKT, the first sorority to adopt the shake-out process, said that this approach enabled her to get a firm grasp of how prospective members would fit into the sisterhood.

Kim recalled that during her own experience participating in the shake-out process as a sister, she was able to have an extended conversation with a PNM and later connected with her over a meal.

Kim said that EKT is supportive of Sigma Delt’s decision to adopt the shake-out system for recruitment.

“We’re really excited that Sigma Delt has decided to go the shake-out route,” she said.

Kim said she thinks this process will alleviate both stress and time commitment for those participating in the rush process. She also said that she can see switching to shake-outs becoming a movement for local sororities.

EKT and Sigma Delt are trying their best to line up their schedules for recruitment, Kim said.

Other differences between the two shake-outs are that EKT has no open houses, Kim said. Instead, their two shake-outs essentially act as open houses.

Additionally, EKT can give out bids 24 hours after each shake-out, whereas Sigma Delt will offer all bids at the end of their one shake-out towards the end of formal recruitment, she said.

As a pilot program, how the shake-out process operates this term will determine whether or not it happens again, Composto said. She added that Sigma Delt understands that many people are affected by this decision and is interested in hearing feedback from all involved.

“We’re trying something new and are going to react to the responses we get because we want to make the process as healthy and balanced as possible,” Composto said.

Hartley said that winter rush is an ideal time to try this out since the number of PNMs tends to be smaller than it is in the fall.

Healy said that the winter pilot program is intended to determine how changing the recruitment process will affect both potential new members and house “agency and happiness.” She noted that Panhell hopes that the pilot will lead to more changes to recruitment that would benefit PNMs, give agency to PNMs and increase transparency of the process.

In a statement emailed to campus, the executive board of Sigma Delt wrote that the traditional sorority recruitment process gives potential new members little choice in which house they end up and also favors extroverted women or women who already know members of a certain house. The hope of instituting the pilot shake-out process is to allow potential new members more flexibility in choosing how much time to spend attending events and getting to know sisters, the email continued.

“The main idea is to give women joining houses a sense of agency,” Hartley said.

Healy is a former member of The Dartmouth business staff.