Greek recruitment emphasizes values with process changes

Graphic by Victoria Jeon and Michell Kim

Northwestern's Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association wrapped up recruitment this week, with both organizations giving out slightly fewer bids than a year ago.

Lauren Caruba, Assistant Campus Editor
January 17, 2013 •

After implementing a more visible and genuine process, the Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association wrapped up recruitment earlier this week.

Both councils reported slightly lower numbers from last year. A total of 445 women received bids at PHA chapters Tuesday night, while IFC saw 348 students pledge this quarter.

However, although down slightly from last year’s 475 bids, this year represents PHA’s second-biggest pledge class in the past decade, said Sophie Friedman, PHA vice president for membership. The council also retained more students during the process, with fewer people dropping out between Preview and formal recruitment, she said.

Enforcing a “no frills” recruitment process, PHA strove to make the process more about potential members’ values, Friedman said. Houses were decorated less, and new training was introduced for both current and potential members.

“We should be bringing the recruitment process back to its roots, where women are meeting women,” the Medill senior said. “It’s less about the superficial things that can happen during the recruitment process.”

This year women rushing PHA completed iValU training, an online assessment of personal values. The survey asks students to prioritize principles such as responsibility and belonging before engaging in recruitment, allowing women to be more aware of what aspects they should be looking for in a particular chapter, Friedman said.

Weinberg sophomore Sarah Chung participated in recruitment both last year and this year. She said the most significant differences this year were in the pre-recruitment process. Along with the survey, PHA representatives emphasized keeping an open mind and not setting sights on one particular chapter.

“They definitely emphasized kind of the more realistic side of recruitment,” she said.

Chung said she also noticed more sophomores rushing this year, which was “natural” due to the record number of freshmen who rushed PHA chapters last year.

However, not much changed during and after recruitment itself, a system many students say is historically stressful for both current and potential members.

“A lot of people say the process sucks, and it does, but I think it’s the best it can be,” Chung, now a member of Gamma Phi Beta, said. “It’s just what it is.”

Although 23 fewer people joined IFC fraternities this quarter, vice president for recruitment Andrew Brugman said the council did well considering that it was down two chapters from last year. Members of NU’s Sigma Phi Epsilon chapter were disaffiliated from the organization last week following the suspension of some of its members over the summer, and Chi Psi was removed from campus last year.

The average class size for IFC chapters was 23, slightly under what it has been in previous years, but with national representatives from both Sig Ep and Sigma Nu personally recruiting new members in the coming weeks, recruitment numbers will continue to improve, Brugman said.

“I was really happy to see that we were able to stick to the numbers we have seen in the past,” the Weinberg senior said.

IFC chapters took a similar approach in advertising Greek life to potential new members this year. Brugman said chapters took more public relations initiative in reaching out to students in dorms across campus via flyering, email blasts and other “dorm storm activities.”

Both PHA and IFC representatives cited the “I Am Greek” campaign, a combined marketing effort across all four of NU’s Greek councils last quarter, as contributing to a more transparent recruitment process. Featuring pictures of current Greek students, the campaign highlighted the other ways NU’s Greek students are involved on campus.

“It was our big effort to pull in those students who might not be aware of all these great things about Greek life,” Brugman said. “You can be involved in other things while being part of a Greek chapter.”

Participating in IFC’s rush week for the first time since returning to NU last year, Delta Tau Delta had 22 new pledges, just one less than the average pledge classes across all of the council’s chapters.

Delt President Ani Ajith said the chapter’s comparable yield to the more established fraternities on campus stemmed from an open, “very relational” recruitment strategy.

“We always presented ourselves genuinely and very honestly,” the Weinberg junior said. “We were definitely not focusing on the numbers. We definitely want quality over quantity.”

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