Sorority Recruitment Distracts from Philanthropy

By: Amanda Stegen, Contributor

With formal recruitment last weekend, and formal pledging in the next two months, sisters are excited to initiate their newest pledge class. Since the beginning of fall semester, sororities have been preparing for recruitment, from potential new member lunch dates, Panhellenic pop-ins and sorority Instagram posts, all in preparation of welcoming the pledge class of 2019. But why all this work for three days of small talk? Even as a participant myself, I have no idea. The process, it seems, is rife with unfair practices and wasted time.

To understand the insignificance of formal recruitment, we have to look back to move-in day, the day recruitment actually starts. Sororities meet and discuss freshmen as early as the first day of school. Regardless of whether or not freshmen are aware of this, it is important to know if they want a bid. Freshmen are told recruitment starts during the week before Spring semester, and yet it actually occurs throughout the year. If a freshman is not attending events like pop-ins or going on lunch dates with random sorority sisters, then their name is lost in the crowd of other freshmen who did, reducing their chances of getting into a sorority. This leaves women who did not to make cursory small talk with strangers throughout the year at a disadvantage.

So I ask sororities this: Why participate in formal recruitment? Why not ditch the fall informal recruitment, and instead focus on making a difference in our community? The fact that sororities spend more time recruiting than anything else leaves a poor impression of Greek Life at Furman.  

In my personal experience, my sorority did everything with recruitment in mind: tabling in Trone, passing out meaningless items, pop-ins, Instagram posts, wearing our letters, photoshoots, etc. We did all this for recruitment, except for what our nationals mandate, which is one local and national philanthropy event, but even then we were even encouraged to sell tickets to freshmen women. If you ask any non-affiliated student at Furman what sororities do for the Furman community, most would say nothing. And for good reason, they are not who sororities are targeting — sororities want to impress freshmen women almost exclusively. We care more about recruitment than we do about our ideals.

Sororities were founded in the 17th century to empower college-age women who had no place on a male-dominated campus. They had less rights and were not welcome in academia, let alone college social circles. They met secretly to support each other. A massive, time-consuming and expensive recruitment was not their goal. Some sororities spend upwards of 4,000 dollars on recruitment week buying food, decorations for rounds, bid day t-shirts and anything else you see in sorority members’ Instagram posts. Frankly, this is a wasteful use of sorority resources.

I believe our founders would be disappointed to know that all our time and energy is spent judging other women. We spend so much time deciding whether or not women belong in our sororities that we have forgotten what sororities were created for: to empower all women. We should be focusing on how to support one another, how to better our sorority community and even Furman. Who are we to judge others when we were in their shoes, clueless of the judgements being passed, starting as early as our own move-in day? Whether you wear letters now or not, you were judged, and the classes above you spent the same amount of time, energy and money to recruit you. It is time to change this. Our energy is better spent supporting our philanthropies, not looking good during recruitment.

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