Despite Abolish Greek Life movement, COB recruitment continues into Spring Quarter


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

The sorority quad at Northwestern. Greek organizations are recruiting students in the spring through an informal continuous open bidding process.

Natalie Wu, Reporter

With both the movement to abolish Greek life and the pandemic hindering membership numbers, several Interfraternity Council and Panhellenic Association organizations extended recruitment into Spring Quarter through continuous open bidding. 

COB, an informal recruitment process, allows fraternities and sororities to hand out bids at their discretion. This year, PHA sororities recruited exclusively by COB and IFC fraternities shifted to a COB process starting Spring Quarter. 

For sororities, the decision was necessary after Panhellenic Association’s canceled formal recruitment because of concerns about virtual recruitment and the uncertainty of chapter status due to the Abolish Greek Life Movement. 

Spearheaded by an anonymous Instagram account and as part of a larger national reckoning, the Abolish Northwestern Greek Life Movement led to mass deactivations and calls to disband in the past year. 

According to statements from individual sororities, Kappa Delta and Delta Gamma have finished recruiting for the academic year, and Kappa Kappa Gamma and Alpha Chi Omega are still handing out bids. The remaining seven PHA organizations did not respond to requests for comment.

COB at Kappa has taken place through a series of “get to know you” Zoom calls, Kappa President Skylar Waldron said. Because it’s a continuous process, there is no deadline to sign up.

“We just give bids out to women who we think would be a good fit with Kappa and who have values that are aligned with Kappa,” Waldron said. 

Alpha Phi president Ashton Welch told the Daily in February the COB process provided an opportunity for more genuine and in-depth conversations with potential new members. But freshmen who participated this year said the decentralized process left many students in the dark and limited the amount of choice they had in sororities. 

Weinberg freshman Emma Burnham participated in COB in the winter but decided to hold off on accepting a bid because she didn’t have the time to attend recruitment meetings. When she rushed again in the spring, many of her preferred sororities were no longer accepting new members. 

“A lot of (sororities) would give bids early on and then set deadlines for a week or a week and a half later, before others were even done or even started rushing,” Burnham said. “That was really difficult to get around because you never want to miss out on another opportunity, but you also want to keep your options open.”

So far, 250 students have gone through the COB process and 147 students have accepted bids,  Sooim Kang, PHA’s vice president of public relations, said. 

While fraternities can recruit throughout the year, bids are typically only offered at the end of formal recruitment in the winter. Because of the pandemic, IFC is allowing fraternities to COB this year, said IFC president and Weinberg junior Nick Papandreou.

“There is no bid day, there is no rush week,” Papandreou said. “It’s just a continuous process.”

IFC facilitates the process by providing chapters with resources to run an “efficient” cycle, Papandreou said.

The council also works to ensure the recruitment process adheres to IFC and NU policies and individual fraternity standards, said Papandreou.

“It’s a two way street — chapters ask us for stuff, we ask chapters for stuff,” Papandreou said. “Overall the end goal is to ensure that the rush process is the best it can be.”

During formal recruitment in the winter, IFC sets recruitment schedules, but Papandreou said individual fraternities decide how to run COB.

Papandreou said COB for all fraternities should run through the end of the academic year, but one Weinberg freshman, who chose to be anonymous because he may rush next year, reported that most fraternities are no longer recruiting. 

“I ended up getting screwed because I was in the dark for the entirety of Winter Quarter,” the freshman said. “By the time we came out of Winter Quarter, all the fraternities that had given bids out to more than four or five people were all full.”

He said he filled out an interest form provided by the IFC at the beginning of Winter Quarter, but none of the fraternities he expressed interest in reached out to him immediately. When they finally did, he said it felt “more as a courtesy.”

In order to get a bid from a fraternity this year, the freshman said students needed either connections or luck. He said he watched one of his peers receive a bid after living in the same apartment complex as some brothers. 

“You don’t get any notifications from fraternities,” the freshman said. “You have to seek it out yourself, and I didn’t know where to look.”

Maia Pandey contributed reporting.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @_nataliewu_

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