Sorority Recruitment Q&A

This week, Wake Forest women (mostly first-year students and sophomores) are registering for sorority recruitment, which will take place in January. The Parent Programs office sat down with Steve Hirst, Director of Student Leadership and Organizations, and Annie Carlson, Associate Director of Student Leadership and Organizations, to talk about the women’s sorority recruitment process and answer questions parents might have.

What are key dates for spring 2013 formal sorority recruitment?
Spring recruitment takes place the week prior to spring classes beginning. Here is a list of upcoming dates associated with the process:

Nov 5-12        Pre-Recruitment Events (times and locations are on our website)

Nov 13            Recruitment Applications Due (5pm on the Greek Life website)

Nov 16            Potential New Member Panel (6pm, Brendle – required)

Jan 7               Residence halls open at 9 am for active sorority members ONLY to return to prepare for recruitment

Jan 8              Residence halls open at 9am for women participating in the recruitment process (potential new members)

Jan 8              Information Meeting (5:30pm, Brendle – required)

Jan 9-12         Formal Recruitment

Jan 13             Bid Distribution

How do women navigate sorority recruitment?
Women are assigned to a group with a Gamma Rho Chi (Greek Recruitment Counselor or GRC). Each GRC is a member of a sorority but has disassociated from her chapter throughout the fall semester and recruitment period to prevent conflicts with her assigned women and her sorority.

The GRC acts as an advisor during the recruitment process, answering her group’s questions and helping them to feel comfortable with the activities. GRCs go through a 3 part training series, meeting with staff members from the Counseling Center and the Mentoring Resource Center as well as with student leaders. Each of these trainings provides the GRCs with better knowledge for the support role they play during and after the recruitment process.

What should students consider before joining a sorority?
Each student should look inward and be very self-aware. Every student should know their preferences and limitations, the things that they value and who they want to surround themselves with. For example, if time management is a struggle for a student, they need to be aware that sorority membership does bring mandatory service and other events – and they should have a plan in place to manage all of their commitments.

What’s your best advice to potential new members?
Have an open mind. We speak with a lot of women each year who are disappointed because their expectations weren’t met at some point during the process. Even if your “favorite” group does not invite you back, stick with the process and go to all of the events that are available to you. We know amazing, remarkable women in every sorority on campus. Each group can offer students sisterhood, service, philanthropy and fellowship – and women can make lifelong friends no matter which organization they choose.

How does the formal sorority recruitment process work at Wake Forest?
Day 1 – Women go to each sorority’s event with their GRC group (9 sororities will host events on Day 1).  Every GRC group goes to every sorority event, even if a woman does not think she is interested in a group.  At the end of Day 1, sororities choose which women they would like to invite back for Day 2 events. The women select the chapters they are most interested in returning to the next day. This process is called “mutual selection” (please see below for more information).

Day 2 – Women are invited back to a maximum of six sorority events (though less is a possibility). At the end of Day 2, sororities choose which women they would like to invite back for Day 3 events, and the women select the chapters they are most interested in returning to the next day.

Day 3 – Women are invited back to a maximum of four sorority events (though less is a possibility).  At the end of Day 3, sororities choose which women they would like to invite back for Day 4 events, and the women select the chapters they are most interested in returning to the next day.

Day 4 – Women are invited back to a maximum of two sorority events (though less is a possibility). Day 4 is also called Preference (or Pref) Night, where the rank their preferred order of the sorority(ies) for which they are still eligible. The sororities also select the women in whom they are most interested.

Day 5 – Bid Day: women are notified if they receive a bid. Chapters host events to welcome their new members. Please note, if a woman does not receive a bid she is contacted prior to the start of this day.

At any time in the recruitment process, women are free to withdraw from recruitment.

What is “mutual selection?”
Mutual selection is what we call the process that occurs at the end of each day of events. While women are choosing which organizations they are most interested in, chapters are doing the same. Think of it like a job interview – while you are trying to decide if this is a place you want to work, the company is also trying to decide if you are the best fit for employment. Unfortunately the company only has so much money to pay its employees, so there are a limited number they are able to take (see next question). All metaphors aside, the system works in favor of the potential new member, taking her interests into account before considering the interests of the chapter. This system is computerized and is dictated by the National Panhellenic Conference.

How many women will sign up for recruitment? How many will each chapter take?
We expect about 400-450 women to sign up for spring recruitment. The number of women each chapter takes depends on the number of women that remain at the end of the recruitment process. Therefore, pledge class sizes vary from year to year. There is no set number before recruitment begins. The recruitment process is largely dictated by the National Panhellenic Conference, which attempts to maintain an even distribution of membership on any given campus. This means that not everyone can join the same one or two chapters and not everyone will receive their #1 choice throughout the process. Again, we encourage women to have an open mind and consider membership in any of our groups.

Do all women going through the process receive bids to join?
Unfortunately no, not all women will receive a bid for membership. There are two reasons this occurs. First, the vast majority of women not receiving bids elect to withdraw from the recruitment process before it is completed. Often this is because they have their heart set on a particular sorority, and if they don’t get invited back to the next event, they choose to not pursue any other groups. Second, there are regrettably a very small number of women who go through the entire process but do not receive a bid on Bid Day. This is typically as a result of a woman not “maximizing her options.” This means that during the process, a woman was unwilling to consider membership in one or more of the sororities that were interested in her.

What about legacies? Are they guaranteed a bid?
No, legacies (potential new members who have family in a sorority) are not guaranteed a bid. Each chapter has its own policies on how they make decisions about legacies. This is dictated by their national organization.

What support mechanisms are in place for women who don’t get invites back or don’t get bids? There’s bound to be disappointment and hurt feelings.
Each woman’s Gamma Rho Chi (GRC) is there to help support her during the process. The GRC meets with her group daily to answer and questions or concerns and can also meet on a one-on-one basis. When there is a woman who is very upset about the process, the GRC will reach out to her and, if helpful, incorporate her RA to offer support as well. There are activities planned in the evening for any woman who withdrew or was released from the recruitment process.

Additionally, we have several support mechanisms on campus, including the Counseling Center, the Chaplain’s Office and Campus Life. We also have a wonderful group of female role models affectionately called “Mary’s Posse” after our Dean of Campus Life Mary Gerardy. This group includes female staff and faculty members who reach out to every woman who is unsatisfied with her experience, oftentimes becoming great mentors and resources for our students.

If a woman refuses a bid from a sorority, can she join a different sorority? I heard fall recruitment is a lot easier. Is that an option?
If a woman is offered a bid during spring formal recruitment and declines it, she is ineligible to join a different sorority for one calendar year (meaning she has to wait until the next spring recruitment). Similarly, if a woman is offered a bid, accepts the bid and then decides to leave the sorority before she initiates, she has to wait a calendar year. If a woman initiates into a sorority, she is bound to that organization for a lifetime, regardless of discontinuing her membership.

We do not recommend women withdraw from spring recruitment to give fall recruitment a chance. During fall term, chapters take far less women than spring, so this can be a risky decision. However, if a woman withdraws from the process before signing a preference card, she is welcome to go through fall recruitment. She also has an opportunity to explore membership in Kappa Alpha Theta.

Please note: if a woman signs a preference card and receives a bid, she is bound to that chapter for one calendar year.

How can women join the new sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta?
This year is an exciting one for the Wake Forest Panhellenic community because we are welcoming Kappa Alpha Theta back to campus. Previously closing due to low membership (no judicial issues, we promise), Kappa Alpha Theta, or Theta for short, is a great option for women who are interested in building a group from the ground up. It is also a great opportunity for those who do not find a chapter that fits their needs during the formal recruitment process. With help from two Theta staff members stationed on campus over the next two years, the group will be chartered by the end of spring semester and continue to build its presence on campus. Theta does not have a designated lounge space in the residence halls, but they have applied to get space in the next year or two.

Theta will be participating in the first day of formal recruitment to provide general information to women going through the process. These women will also get to meet members of Kappa Alpha Theta from nearby chapters such as Duke. Please note that women are not required to go through formal recruitment to join Theta. At the end of January, two weeks after the conclusion of formal recruitment, Theta headquarters staff and alumni volunteers will conduct an interview process to select their new members. In doing so, they will attempt to mimic the composition of other chapters, selecting members from all four classes to spread out knowledge and leadership abilities.

For information such as dates and times of interviews, please keep checking our Greek Life website. We will update it as soon as dates become available.

Is sorority membership required to have a full social life on campus?
We hear some women say it is, but we do not believe that to be true. There are over 150 student organizations and many, many places that students can belong to find their niche. There are many students with active social lives who are not fraternity and sorority members.

How long is the pledge period?
Six weeks – it begins on bid day and sorority initiation is to be six weeks later.

Parents often ask about hazing – does it happen, and what does the University do about it?
The University has a strict policy against hazing, which is outlined in the Student Handbook. Hazing has occurred on most college campuses at some time. At Wake Forest, if an organization is found responsible for hazing its new members, they are held accountable as an organization.  There is also a hazing hotline at 336-758-HAZE (4293) for members of the Wake Forest community who wish to report anonymously any student behavior which may be of a hazing nature.  If parents encounter behavior they think could be hazing, they are encouraged to report specifics to the Dean of Student Services’ office at 336.758.5226 or deanstud. Parents and students can request (and will be given) anonymity, but the University does need some specifics (name of organization, activity the student faced, etc.) to be able to investigate a charge of hazing.

How much does it cost to be in a sorority?
Average new member dues are $615, with subsequent semesters at an average of $335. The costs cover national chapter dues, housing fees and sorority activities.

What are some of the benefits of sorority membership in your opinion?
The most significant benefit is that a sorority can shape the lives of its members through its founding principles and beliefs. By encouraging positive interactions among members, sisters can influence one another to lead healthy, productive lives that empower one another as leaders and women. On a more basic level, benefits include making friends and having a group to which the women feel they belong; it gives fellowship and camaraderie.  Fraternities and sororities also teach valuable skills like networking and being comfortable meeting new people, which is a plus for most people’s professional lives. There are opportunities to take on leadership roles, which will teach students how to accomplish major tasks and mobilize a large group toward a common goal. Each sorority has a service or philanthropic component to, so the women are giving back to the local or national community as well. Of course, students are at Wake to get a degree first and foremost and membership in a fraternity or sorority can enhance a student’s ability to succeed by providing mentorship from older members and members within a student’s major.

Where can parents go for more information?
The Greek life page of the Wake Forest web site has more information, or contact:

Annie Carlson, Associate Director of Student Leadership and Organizations, at carlsoaw

Steve Hirst, Director of Student Leadership and Organizations, at hirstsr

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