Fraternity Recruitment

For parents/families of sons, I am frequently asked about what fraternity recruitment looks like for them. There is a huge difference in the men’s and women’s processes – the short version is that sorority recruitment is highly structured and men’s is not. As I did with the blog post I did on sorority recruitment, let me state upfront that I am Switzerland on the issue of fraternities. I am neither trying to glorify nor vilify them, and I believe each student has to make the choice that is best for them. But because I get so many questions from families, I want to lay out what I can about the process. As always, these opinions are mine and not Wake’s.

Men’s recruitment runs from January 16th and bids go out on January 22nd. While sorority recruitment follows a prescribed process with daily events and particular milestones, fraternity recruitment is much more casual. Much of the process for the men looks more like men hanging out or playing sports, rather than being at a formal recruitment event.

Most chapters use the recruitment week to refine a list of men that they have been getting to know in the fall to make sure that there is a good fit between that man and the chapter. The various fraternities will host events that expose the current members to each prospective member in a variety of situations: these could include athletic activities, informal gatherings, and/or coat and tie events. Men would be wise to keep their options open and consider all groups, not just the fraternities they think they’d be a best fit for.

A lot of the recruitment process is done by distro lists (whether that is group text, group chat, emails, etc.) A man could be receiving invitations to events from fraternity A for a time, and then suddenly stop getting invites. That is typically the sign that the man is no longer being considered for that fraternity. Sometimes a fraternity will actually contact the student to say they are moving on, other times their ‘notification’ is that invites stop. This can vary from chapter to chapter. 

While sororities are required to extend a specific number of invitations to make a quota, the fraternities are free to extend as many or as few of invitations as they wish. Though it is generally a good sign if your son is receiving invites to fraternity X or Y’s events up until the Bid Day, that does not necessarily mean he will get a bid to join those groups.  

Bids will go out on January 22nd. It is possible that your son could get no bid, one bid, or multiple bids (and then he has to choose which one to join). Just as with sororities, it can sting if you are not invited back to the group of choice. Also just like sororities, I deeply believe there are all types of men in all groups, so any group will have a range of personalities and behaviors and you would find commonality with some and differences with others. There is no one perfect group. My Harry Potter sorting hat analogy works here too – for men who get a bid, they have tended to land in groups that suit them.

There are organizations that are not recognized by the university that are recognized by their national organization. For more information on these groups, you can visit the Student Engagement website. The University does not encourage students joining these groups, nor does the University manage or have information on their recruitment processes. If your student is interested in joining one of these organizations, it would be helpful for you to read the Student Engagement website and have a conversation with your Deac about the ramifications of being in an unrecognized fraternity (i.e., lack of faculty/staff advisors, no University oversight or training in harm reduction, etc.).

The challenge in describing fraternity recruitment is that it is just so unstructured. Hopefully this gives you a little bit better a picture of what it might look like for your Deac.


— by Betsy Chapman, Ph.D. (’92, MA ’94)

Categories: the daily deac


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