Spring sorority recruitment attracts largest class yet

Akash Desai, Senior Staff Reporter

Houses on Broadway Street nearly met capacity Friday as 729 women, 93 percent of whom are freshmen, began the sorority recruitment process. This year’s recruitment is the largest yet, with 35 more students participating in the four-round process than in the spring 2015 recruitment.

Tulane students’ interest in joining sororities has steadily increased in recent years. In 2010, 476 women participated, while in 2015, 694 engaged in sorority recruitment. The trend at Tulane is not unusual compared to other universities, according to Director of Fraternity and Sorority Programs Liz Schafer.

“Nationwide we saw the number of women joining Panhellenic sororities go from 95,000 in 2009-2010 to nearly 137,000 in 2014-15,” Schafer said. 

Freshman Anne Moore, who is also a Tulane University Peer Health Educator and volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, is currently participating in recruitment. She said joining a sorority appeals to her for both the social and leadership benefits. 

“I am really intrigued by the leadership opportunities that are available through Greek life, and also it’s a great way to make new friends as a freshman,” Moore said. 

Sorority recruitment at Tulane consists of four rounds of activities, each step involving a mutual selection process where sororities and potential new members, also referred to as PNMs, rank each other. The first round on Friday, Jan. 8 served as an open house, during which PNMs were introduced to the seven active National Panhellenic Conference sororities at Tulane and encouraged to interact with their members. PNMs can then be called back by up to six sororities to learn about their specific philanthropy in the second round. On Saturday, the PNMs may receive a maximum of four invites from houses to see a slideshow on their sisterhood and learn about the types of social events held.

On the following day, called Preference Night, PNMs may be brought back by up to two sororities, spend an hour at each and then complete a card indicating their first and second choices. If they are invited to Bid Day on Monday, they will open an envelope indicating which sorority they are placed into.

Moore said she did not have much exposure to the different sororities prior to recruitment, but that Tulane’s sorority recruitment has allowed her to quickly gain familiarity with all the Panhellenic organizations.

“The way that the system is set up educates you about the houses really well in a really short amount of time, which I like a lot,” Moore said. “I kind of came into it not knowing a ton about the individual houses. And now, after talking to people, and going through that first weekend, I know a lot more, which is good.”

Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority, which is suspended through May 31 for student conduct violations, is not allowed to recruit new members this semester. Schafer said having one less sorority taking members will likely not affect how many women will receive bids.

“AEPhi’s suspension will not reduce the number of spaces available for potential new members to join a sorority,” Schafer said. “The number of spaces is determined by the number of women who participate in recruitment. AEPhi’s absence from recruitment may mean that the new member classes will be a bit larger than usual this year, but we will not know that until after the final round of recruitment on Sunday.” 

Another change to sorority recruitment this year is the inclusion of Counseling and Psychological Services. Multiple members of different sororities said CAPS came to the houses and provided pamphlets, presentations on resources and information on support groups. Two CAPS professionals also presented to the 65 recruitment counselors on ways they can help students in distress and how to refer students to mental health resources on campus.

CAPS Director Donna Bender said that the office’s involvement in sorority recruitment is part of a larger liaison program initiated in the fall with departments and organizations on campus. She also said that students can experience a range of emotions during recruitment.

“Many students report feelings of anxiety and anticipation as this a new experience and most students are unfamiliar with the process,” Bender said. “Along with increased stress, sadness and disappointment are common, especially if a student does not get into their group of choice. On the other hand, there is also a lot of excitement and happiness that comes from meeting new people and expanding your social network.”  

Schafer said the high numbers of PNMs this year can be attributed to the all-inclusive nature of a sorority.   

“The fact that we have a 50 percent increase in just six years tells me that students are not only seeking to find connections at Tulane, but that women are looking for a community that provides them outlets for leadership development, service to others and strong friendship all in one organization,” Schafer said. 

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