Sorority rush numbers edge up a bit
The number of women taking part in the Panhellenic Council's sorority rush this year was up slightly from last year, while the number dropping out of the rush process dropped significantly.
Two-hundred and fifty-three women attended the three mandatory rounds of rush this year, according to Panhell Vice President Ann Marie Nee '98. This excludes the estimated 30 to 40 women who attended the optional Round Zero of rush, but chose not to participate in the following mandatory Rounds One and Two and Preference Night.
Of these 253 women, a remarkably high number, 232, completed rush this Fall. Last year, at least 266 women rushed, but more than 100 women dropped out during the process, with only 160 women actually accepting bids.
Panhell President Mariam Malik '98 described this Fall's sorority rush as "excellent."
"This year's numbers greatly exceeded our expectations," she said.
The remarkably low drop-out rate can be explained by many factors, according to Nee.
"Rush went really well. We tried a few new things," she said. "We had a record number of people register and a very low drop-out rate due in part to the great job the Rho Chis did."
Rho Chis are the equivalent of undergraduate advisors for women going through the rush process, Nee said.
"Rho Chis give rushees advice on the process and try to show all seven houses in a positive light," she said. "This year's Rho Chi's did this really well."
The 20 Rho Chis, who each led groups of rushees ranging from 11 to 15, were trained through a retreat held at the beginning of the term and meetings throughout Rush Week, which began on Thursday, Sept. 24 and ended on Saturday, Oct. 4.
One of the biggest changes to the rush process was the addition of an informal round, Round Zero which preceded the two rounds of mandatory parties and Preference Night.
"Round Zero was a very informal, comparable to a progressive dinner," Nee said. "It was a nice kick-off to rush."
Progressive dinners normally occur the spring before fall rush starts and introduce women to sororities in a comfortable, casual atmosphere. Food is served and women are permitted to tour each house and meet sisters.
Rush is normally a very strict and regimented process, and the addition of Round Zero allowed rushees to have more of a choice, Malik said.
"Throughout rush we tried to emphasize that it is a process of mutual selection," she added.
Although the round was optional, rushees either had to attend all or none of the parties held at the seven houses.
"In Round Zero every house is given an equal chance from the beginning," Nee said.
Following Rounds One and Two, deliberations are made so that on Preference Night, the culmination of the rush process, each rushee attends only two parties.
"Girls are channeled into each house based on their Preference Night choices," Nee said.
"Rush is based on mutual selection," she added. "Based on rush week, the rushee decides what house she wants and the houses each decide who they want."
The low drop-out numbers can also be attributed to the larger selection the rushees had this fall with the addition of the new sorority, Alpha Xi Delta, Nee said.
"Alpha Xi did really well this year," Nee said. Even though the new sorority is hardly even a year old and just changed affiliations from local to national, it participated in the regular rush process along with the College's other six sororities.
"We wanted each of play houses to go through rush together," Malik said.
With only six houses in the past, it was very difficult to accommodate the large number of women who rush each year, according to Malik.
"Women were so restricted in their choices," she said. "Since the number of women was so large this year, we could not have done it without the addition of the seventh sorority."
Alpha Xi held rush in the former house of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at 6 Webster Avenue. "I think they greatly benefited from holding rush in the former Beta House," Nee said.
The sorority's national affiliation was also helpful as the young house went through the regular rush process.
"One thing that we have found throughout rush is that whether a sorority is local or national is not normally a big deal," Malik said. "But, in the case of Alpha Xi, they were able to get a lot of advice from a national network which made it easier for them to participate fully in the rush process."
Malik said she could not comment on whether Zeta Beta's change of affiliation from a national to local sorority had any affect on the size of their new class this term.
"Being a local or national sorority is really not that big a deal," she reiterated.
Although some women who attended the optional Round Zero later chose to drop out of rush, that should not be read as a negative reflection of the process, Nee said.
"A lot of people are not comfortable with the rush process," she said.
If rushees followed all the rules of rush, attending the appropriate number of parties each night, each woman was guaranteed a bid from one of the two houses she listed on her card following Preference Night.
After the conclusion of Preference Night parties, rushees are instructed to go straight to the Collis Center to fill out a "Pref Night card." This card lists her order of preference for the two houses she visited that night and is used to match up each rushee with a sorority.
"Bids are guaranteed because we felt that there is no woman at Dartmouth who is so horrible that she does not belong in a sorority," Nee said.
The number of women who accepted bids at each house is not yet available, according to Malik. Sorority "sink nights" -- where women officially sink their bids and join the houses -- are continuing throughout the week, and several sororities encourage members to hold their bids if they are at all unsure about joining a house.