After the first round of Panhellenic Council sorority recruitment ended last Tuesday, Panhell executives said they spent hours calling sorority presidents, asking them to invite more women to their second round. This followed a guarantee announced in May that all potential new members would receive invitations to round two parties at four houses.
While this reform to Panhell recruitment was unsuccessful, others — including expanding Rho Chi training, instituting a post-recruitment survey of potential new members and strengthening the violation reporting process — marked a recruitment season that differed significantly from last fall’s process.
Panhell sororities extended a total of 297 bids this fall, Panhell vice president of public relations Jessica Ke ’15 said. Ke declined to provide the exact number of students who rushed, though she said it was more than 300 people.
Both Alpha Xi Delta sorority and Delta Delta Delta sorority extended 40 bids, all of which were accepted, the presidents said. Epsilon Kappa Theta sorority chose not to participate in formal recruitment and instead held two “shake-out” events, and the majority of the 32 women who received bids accepted them, president Emily Reeves ’15 said.
Representatives of Alpha Phi, Kappa Delta, Kappa Delta Epsilon, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Sigma Delta sororities did not respond to multiple requests for comment by press time.
Two sororities did not call back additional potential new members to the second round of parties, meaning that some women received fewer than four invitations. Ke and Panhell president Rachel Funk '15 declined to name the sororities that did not abide by the policy.
After several women received fewer than four invitations to round two — including some who received two or three invitations — both Rho Chis and potential new members reported widespread confusion. Though Panhell'sannouncement in spring promisedeach potential new member callbacks tofour houses, the policy was later amended following concerns from national representatives in late July and August, Funk said. The amended policy formally allowed Panhell to request sororities to call back more women, instead of randomly selecting houses to fill up theset of four, a change that was communicated to Rho Chis and sorority rush chairs, Ke said.
Ke and Funk declined to give the exact figure or estimate how many women received fewer than four round-two invitations.
In a statement to Rho Chis, Panhell executives wrote that they were disappointed by the outcome. “We feel sickened that the process still does not reflect our goals,” it read.
In addition to the callback policy, Panhell expanded Rho Chi training, charged Rho Chis with patrolling parties and instituted a post-recruitment survey of potential new members. Panhell also centralized information for potential new members in a website, eliminated food from parties and gave new members booklets and identification stickers, Ke said. Round two parties were extended by 20 minutes to allow members more time to meet rush participants.
“We don’t believe that we can fully know who we would want in our sisterhoods in just 45 minutes,” Ke said.
Sororities that did not maximize their invite list for preference night were not allowed to extend snap bids, or bids to women who had withdrawn from rush, Ke said.
All students who participated in rush were also invited to fill out a new post-recruitment survey, which collected information such as race and ethnicity, financial aid status and other questions deemed appropriate by Office of Pluralism and Leadership administrators, said Funk, who collaborated with inter-community council co-chair Carla Yoon ’15 on the survey. Prior surveys focused on feedback but did not collect demographic information.
Panhell aims to release the data by the end of the academic year after analyzing it, Ke said. Not all women who participated in recruitment filled out the survey.
The data will be given to Panhell advisor and interim Dean of the College Inge-Lise Ameer, and Panhell will continue to evaluate its policies for the winter recruitment process, Funk said.
Reports of perceived bias during recruitment motivated Panhell to implement the survey, she said.
“There are rumors that rush is racist and privileges certain types of women, and we want to see if numbers really reflect that,” Funk said. “We recognize that not every woman on campus is affiliated or wants to be affiliated, but we want to make sure that this is because of choice.”
This year, Rho Chi training included more in-depth applications, longer training sessions — including information on the computer system used to sort matches — and access to a Google Drive with training material and to-do lists, Panhell co-vice president of recruitment Kathleen Wahl ’15 said.
Of everyone involved in rush, Rho Chis spend the most time with potential new members, Ke said, and their training comprised a key part of efforts to increase transparency during recruitment.
Shinri Kamei ’16, a Rho Chi, said she appreciated the support she received from Panhell throughout recruitment, noting members’ quick response whenever she needed guidance.
Fellow Rho Chi Shelby Schrier ’15 said she appreciated the emphasis on kindness between sorority members and potential new members.
“I know of instances of PNMs hiding in bathrooms, drinking water, avoiding eye contact and being short with sisters,” Schrier said. “But this year I really feel Panhell has done a fantastic job of cracking down on rudeness.”
This fall, Panhell charged Rho Chis with patrolling houses during parties and collecting recruitment violation reports after each party, Wahl said.
Violation reports could be submitted by both potential new members and sorority members for any behavior that broke the rules of recruitment, such as intentional rudeness, bid promising, intentionally skipping parties and breaking the silence period.
Panhell executives reviewed each violation report and agreed on a response after consulting with the woman who submitted the form, the woman in question, the Rho Chi presented with the violation and the potential new member’s Rho Chi, Funk said. If Panhell received three official complaints, the woman in question was eligible for expulsion from the recruitment process. Funk declined to say how many women were expelled from the process.
Panhell announced earlier this month that no member sorority will require women to work for financial aid for membership dues. The shift aimed to boost financial inclusivity in the Greek system. Last week, sorority presidents followed the Interfraternity Council in voting to abolish pledge term. All women who accepted bids will join organizations as full members.
These reforms follow the abstention of five members of the 2013-14 Panhell executive board from last winter’s sorority recruitment period, who cited a desire to focus on improving the rush process.
Reforms initiated that winter included a relaxed dress codes for potential new members, replacing choreographed song-and-dance presentations with financial aid presentations and introducing an all-Panhell scholarship fund.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction.
Correction appended (Oct. 1, 2014):
The Panhellenic Council's four-callback guarantee was amended over the summer after national sororities' representatives expressed concerns. Instead, the Council asked houses to take back additional members after the first round of parties. The article has been corrected.