Panhell introduces changes to rush

by Sunpreet Singh | 5/30/17 2:05am

The Panhellenic Council recently voted to change its name to the Inter-Sorority Council and restructure the formal sorority recruitment process. The name change will come into effect over the summer, and the rush changes, which include restructuring rounds one and two to an open-house format, will be enacted in the fall.

Panhell held three town hall meetings during spring term with council members, sorority presidents and rush chairs. President of Alpha Xi Delta sorority Katherine Flessel ’18 said Panhell held the meetings to discuss points of frustration with the rush process and potential changes. After the last town hall, Panhell voted on and passed the new recruitment system, she said.

The new system changes the first two rounds of sorority rush so that instead of having structured schedules of house visits, Panhell rush will instead operate in an open house fashion, according to Flessel. Unlike the previous structure where PNMs had to attend a 45-minute party at each of the houses, PNMs will now be able to choose how much time they spend at each house, she said.

Each house will offer at least six hours of open house time for PNMs, and there will be a minimum and maximum amount of time during which PNMs can visit a house. In the first round, PNMs will visit all seven houses and stay for at least 30 minutes but not more than 90 minutes. In the second round, PNMs can be called back to a maximum of four houses and will stay at each house for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours. PNMs will swipe their student IDs at each house to monitor the time they spend at each house during rounds one and two.

Panhell co-vice president of recruitment Paige Mickel ’18 said that the motivation behind the change in format is that PNMs are now able to leave after only 30 minutes, as opposed to 45, allowing PNMs to maximize their time at their preferred houses.

The new changes will also include eliminating the silence period, which was a period lasting one or two days between preference night and bid night in which no affiliated sisters could speak to PNMs, Flessel said.

Mickel said that most of the changes were formalized this term. She added that no sorority houses were happy with how the process operated before, but that it took time to create a complete plan because of the differing parts of the process up for change.

“There’s historically been a lot of anxiety and negative feelings towards rush ... so we wanted to relax the process more,” Mickel said. “That was the motivation behind the formatting changes ... especially comparing it to the men’s rush system where virtually none of these rules exist.”

The changes are meant to make the rush process less formal and more “organic,” Mickel said. She said that under the previous system, other time commitments would negatively affect PNMs, such as athletes who had practice or students with labs, leading many of them to drop out of the process. Additionally, she said that the new system aims to give houses more flexibility in scheduling their parties.

Flessel said that she thinks the motivations behind the new changes are to make a system that gives more agency to PNMs to choose where they end up so that they can find better-fit houses than they would have under the previous system.

As a result of these changes, the new structure is also expected to reduce the number of possible rush violations because of the new flexibility with open houses, Flessel said.

“For example, if a girl has to go to the bathroom during an open house, she isn’t going to be rude and be penalized for that rudeness because she has more flexibility,” Flessel said. “Since she is no longer being constrained to 45 minutes per house, she is able to go to the bathroom and not worry that she is being rude to a sister or not making a good impression.”

Flessel said that PNMs will be encouraged to sign up for open houses in order to gauge how many people will be attending an open house at a time, but that PNMs will not be held strictly to the open house times. She added that, like last year, PNMs will only have three or four houses to visit in the second round, compared to seven during the first round.

Last spring, Panhell and sorority presidents voted to change the rules so that potential new members would no longer be guaranteed a callback for round two of the sorority recruitment process. Former Panhell recruitment chair Alexis Wallace ’17 said at the time that the change was meant to create more transparency in the process, as bids are not actually guaranteed until preference night.

When asked about the reasons behind the re-branding of the Panhellenic Council to the Inter-Sorority Council, Mickel said that Panhellenic Council is the name for councils of national sororities at every other college and usually does not include local houses. She said that unlike most colleges’ Panhellenic Councils, Dartmouth’s Panhellenic Council includes both national and local houses.

“We kind of realized that the name should be based on Dartmouth’s environment and the fact that half of Dartmouth’s sororities are local — it wasn’t really representative of everyone at Dartmouth’s values and even national sororities’ values sometimes,” Mickel said. “So we just felt it was more appropriate to have a more Dartmouth centered name and Inter-Sorority Council is more representative of our goals.”

Mickel added that the Panhellenic Council name tended to primarily be associated with rush.

“Although rush is a pretty big part of what we do ... we also are trying to do a lot of general Greek stuff, like programming and outreach to freshman, and general Greek stuff to benefit the Dartmouth community, not just rush,” Mickel said.

Flessel said that AXiD is excited about the new system because it will create more transparency in the formal rush process.

“I am really excited about the fact that our PNMs are going to get a lot more info about our sorority and how financial aid works for everyone,” Flessel said. “This will allow us to show that sororities can cover full financial aid for girls.”

Epsilon Kappa Theta sorority recruitment chair Preeti Rishi ’18 said that she does not think many of the new changes will apply to EKT because EKT does not participate in the formal rush process. Instead, EKT uses a shakeout process, which is already in an open-house style. Sigma Delta sorority used a shakeout process for the first time last fall and winter.

“I think that people are kind of realizing that what we do is a good model of how recruitment works really well for us,” Rishi said.

Rishi, who went through formal rush herself for one day, said it was a rigid structure because PNMs have to go to every party and risk being punished for a violation if they do not spend enough time at each house. She added that formal rush is complex because, although PNMs are allowed to both shake out and go through formal rush, they cannot be given simultaneous bids through each process.

She said she thinks the removal of the silence period will increase transparency and help houses communicate with one another and be more straightforward in extending bids.

Rishi added that if every house goes through the open house process, it will benefit all of the houses and PNMs in general.

“I think if all houses go through [an] open house [rush process], it’s just more kind of systematic and the houses are on kind of a more of a level playing field, and everything is just more of the same and it’ll be easier,” Rishi said.