UA’s sorority recruitment largest in nation, expected to grow

Adrienne Burch

For the third consecutive year, the University of Alabama hosted the largest fall sorority recruitment in the nation. The Open House pool of potential members had 1,952 women for Fall 2012 sorority recruitment at UA, surpassing last year’s record of 1,720.

On Bid Day, UA welcomed 1,687 of these women into the Panhellenic community at Bryant-Denny Stadium, meaning close to 86 percent of girls received a bid. To accommodate this increase in numbers, recruitment week began a day early, with early move-in on Thursday, Aug.9 and the week beginning Friday, Aug. 10, instead of the previously scheduled date of Aug. 11.

PNMs – potential new members – were guaranteed two days to visit every sorority but could be released from recruitment beginning the third day. The Panhellenic website announced that recruitment participation did not guarantee an invitation to pledge a sorority.

Kat Gillan, the director of Greek Affairs, said the extension of recruitment week allowed skit party attendance to remain at a manageable size for each of the chapters.

“Logistically, we needed to add an extra day to the recruitment process to accommodate all the women who were participating,” Gillan said.

Gillan also said this extension could possibly be a permanent change if registration numbers continue to grow.

UA student Christina Simmons worked recruitment as a Sigma Rho Chi, who act as group counselors to PNMs through the recruitment process.

Rho Chis normally work in groups of three, dividing 70 PNMs between them. Simmons said the increase in PNMs didn’t affect her responsibilities, as she was in a group of three, but some Rho Chis had to work in pairs to accommodate the large numbers.

“Recruitment for Rho Chis is a very busy time, as it is for all members of sorority life, but as a Rho Chi, we are required to be there for the PNMs at all times, day or night – which, for a pair of two Rho Chis, was probably rather demanding,” Simmons said.

Though the recruitment numbers altered the Rho Chis’ routine, a Panhellenic Judicial Board member said the increase in size didn’t affect the integrity of the recruitment process.

“The increased recruitment size did not change our Judicial Board responsibilities,” junior Madalyn Vaughn said. “We ensure the houses are following Panhellenic rules and make sure that PNMs are treated fairly.”

Not only did sorority recruitment increase at UA, but across the nation, more and more girls are choosing to “Go Greek.” Nationwide, membership is up, increasing 15 percent from 2008 to 2011, according to the National Panhellenic Conference.

With an increased number of girls participating in fall recruitment this year at UA, the competitive edge and desire for the girls to be better prepared was evident. The New York Times recently covered a Birmingham business, Rushbiddies, which is designed to aid girls and prepare them for colligate rush at universities across the country.

According to the New York Times, the business is run by two women, Pat Grant and Marlea Foster, who host rush workshops for mothers and their daughters who are preparing to go through sorority recruitment.

Not only did the girls feel the need to be more prepared, but The University’s need for new and improved housing and resources became urgent this past year. This fall, the Beta Psi chapter of Delta Gamma, founded at UA in fall of 2011, was able to utilize their new house that was finished on Aug. 1 for formal recruitment.

Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Gamma Delta and Delta Delta Delta are also in the process of constructing new homes, but they were not completed for this year’s fall rush.

“The Office of Greek Affairs is very happy with the outcome of this year’s recruitment,” Gillan said. “We are so thankful to the Alabama Panhellenic Association, the individual chapters, as well as their advisors and all the University departments that assisted with recruitment.”

Simmons said she believes recruitment at the Capstone will continue to grow.

“It will continue to grow because the greek community has a very strong reputation all over the country which, combined with the increasing student population, will naturally cause recruitment numbers to increase,” she said.