Sororities see smaller fall rush classes, higher drop rate

by Kyle Mullins | 10/8/18 3:00am

The number of bids extended this year during Inter-Sorority Council sorority recruitment experienced a decline compared to past years. This fall, 239 bids were given, a drop from 277 in both 2017 and 2016.

Out of the 375 total women who registered for recruitment — a decrease from 394 women who registered in 2017, and an increase from 345 in 2016 — 62.2 percent ended up joining a sorority, a decline from 2017’s 71 percent. According to the Office of Greek Life, 139 women dropped out of the recruitment process.

Thirty-five bids were extended at Alpha Phi sorority, 32 at Alpha Xi Delta sorority, 32 at Chi Delta sorority, nine at Epsilon Kappa Theta sorority, 26 at Kappa Delta sorority, 37 at Kappa Delta Epsilon sorority, 35 at Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority and 33 at Sigma Delta sorority. EKT accepted 14 additional new members during its continuous open bidding process, which immediately followed the formal recruitment process.

According to the Office of Greek Life, “women who did not register for the recruitment process are eligible to get a bid through continuous open bidding.”

This year, EKT was required to participate in the formal recruitment process by the ISC instead of conducting the independent “shakeout” process that the sorority has been using since 2012, according to EKT president Thuyen Tran ’19.

In order to be eligible for shakeout, sororities are obligated to submit petitions to the ISC. While this rule was not enforced over the past several years, according to Tran, a petition was requested this past spring — and rejected twice.

“We respect ISC — we understand the ISC’s mission and as part of ISC, we would like to continue doing shakeout as we have been doing the past few years,” Tran said the petitions argued.

However, according to Tran, the ISC said that “when one of [its] sororities is doing something else,” it clashes with the council’s mission to be “inclusive.”

The ISC declined requests for comment.

A majority of sororities saw a reduction in the size of their incoming classes. While APhi, AXiD, Chi Delt, EKT, KDE, Kappa and Sigma Delt had smaller fall new member classes compared to last fall, KD’s new member class increased from nine new members in the fall of 2017 to 26 this fall.

This year, the ISC made various structural changes to the formal recruitment process. Potential new members were required to visit all eight sororities during the first round, signing up for one-hour slots online. They were allowed to leave after the half-hour mark.

Lindsey Beaudoin ’21, who received a bid from AXiD, said that she enjoyed meeting women in all eight houses.

“You got to talk to a lot of people in each house, which was cool, because especially with sororities, most people don’t know a lot coming into the process,” Beaudoin said.

Hi’ilani Hopkins ’21, who received a bid from APhi, said she appreciated the flexibility in the recruitment process.

“This year, you could basically choose [your time slots], so it was really helpful with scheduling and stuff, especially if you had practices or x-hours or labs,” Hopkins said.

However, she added that the recruitment process was “definitely” stressful.

“Round one was from Thursday to Sunday, and I didn’t do work that whole time, basically,” she said.

During round two, potential new members could be called back to a maximum of five houses. They registered for 45-minute slots and were required to stay at those houses the entire time.

As the smallest sorority at the College, EKT received accommodations from the ISC to host parties of shorter lengths, according to Tran.

Preference night follows rounds one and two, during which PNMs could be called back to a maximum of two houses. The next day, PNMs received their bids from their recruitment counselors.

“Getting the results back and figuring out what to do from there was definitely where the stress sort of started to kick in,” Beaudoin said. “There’s a lot of emotional trauma surrounding it.”

AXiD’s vice president of membership Rachel Inman ’19 said that this year’s process was “much more structured and organized” than last year, which made it “a lot better, planning purposes-wise, for the sisters on the other side, because you knew exactly how many people were coming.”

The rounds were capped in terms of the number of people who could attend at once, which helped control overcrowding, a concern from last year’s process, Inman added.

But EKT recruitment chair Bethany Malzman ’19 said the combination of EKT’s smaller size with this year’s increased number of parties and the sorority’s lack of experience with the formal recruitment process was difficult for EKT members. Malzman noted that participating in the recruitment process this year “was really draining.”

“We’re not very happy with ISC,” Tran said.

Inman said she found it surprising that fewer women registered to rush this year than last year because the Class of 2021 is larger than the Class of 2020. However, the biggest surprise was that over a third of women dropped out of rush, she said.

“[The reasons are] hard to know, because to me, it seemed more organized and a better experience,” Inman said.

AXiD president Lara Balick ’19 said she believes the results of fall sorority recruitment will affect winter recruitment.

“Normally, winter rush classes are only 10 to 15 people, but we think there will be much larger winter rush classes [this year],” Balick said.

Srishti Bagchi ’21, who dropped from the recruitment process after round two, said she may register for recruitment again in the winter. Bagchi said she received two callbacks in round one, and after visiting those two sororities again, she decided that “it would be a better decision to drop out from fall rush and then re-rush, potentially, in the winter.”

During the formal recruitment process, a computer algorithm matches PNM preferences with sorority preferences, determining house placements in each round. Many women, including new members and recruitment chairs, had questions about the way the algorithm worked and transparency in the process.

Balick said that some of the frustrations that arose were that PNMs felt as if they did not have autonomy in their choices and callbacks. Additionally, due to a lack of transparency, PNMs had questions about the way the process works, she added.

“I think a lot of people expect to get two, three, four houses in their top five, but for me and a lot of people, it did not turn out that way,” Beaudoin said, crediting this year’s higher drop rate to this reason.

Maddy D’Amico ’21, who received a bid from APhi, also said she questioned some of her results.

“If I’m [ranking the sorority] as eighth out of eight, I don’t want to be there, so I don’t know why you would call me back here,” D’Amico said.

D’Amico said she connected the high drop rate this year to the algorithm and the process, adding that “a lot of people just didn’t seem to get what they wanted.” Nonetheless, she said she understands the need for a system to effectively match the preferences of hundreds of PNMs to the eight sororities.

Varsha Iyer ’21, who dropped the process after round two, said that she has “no regrets” about joining the recruitment process.

“I think a lot of people were really upset about the houses they didn’t get,” Iyer said. “But, because I came in with the mentality that ‘I don’t even have a connection to rush or anything,’ it’s fine. Within 10 minutes, I was over it.”

Iyer is a member of The Dartmouth staff.