Written by Evan Myers, News Editor
This August, before any first year students even arrived on campus, I overheard a sorority president tell another student, “I wish you were on O-staff (orientation staff), it would be great for recruitment, right now it is a Chi-O (Chi Omega) and Pi-Kapp (Pi Kappa Phi) fest.” The comment surprised me. Although I have never been in Greek Life myself, I was under the impression that Furman had deferred (spring) recruitment. On paper, we do.
As Ashley Hall, president of Furman’s Panhellenic Council, clarified, “the University’s administration prefers delayed recruitment… because it allows first-year students the opportunity to settle into college life before adding such a commitment to their schedule.” Ashley Baudouin, Furman’s new Associate Director of Fraternity & Sorority Life, echoed Hall’s message, saying “I am a proponent of deferred recruitment as it allows first-year students to first adjust to the University’s academic rigor as well as explore all aspects of the campus community and involvement opportunities prior to focusing in on the fraternity and sorority experience.”
Clearly, Furman’s administration and Panhellenic Council believe that our current deferred recruitment system provides significant advantages for first year students. However, neither Baudouin, Hall, nor any of the other Greek life representatives I contacted (with a few exceptions), were willing to comment on any of deferred recruitment’s disadvantages. In my opinion, this can only reflect a lack of familiarity or willful ignorance with respect to deferred recruitment’s drawbacks: because there are many and our Greek community is generally aware of them.
The majority of these drawbacks result from misconception that the recruitment process does not begin until January. Although on paper this is true—Furman typically holds formal recruitment in January—in practice our “informal” recruitment process begins before first year students even arrive on campus (as the sorority president I referenced at the beginning of this piece pointed out). Thus, despite the fact that formal recruitment certainly has its advantages (as Hall and Baudouin articulate), these advantages ought to be weighed against the numerous disadvantages of a semester-long informal recruitment process.
Two issues which arise from informal recruitment that Panehellenic is certainly aware of are “dirty rushing” and “bid promising.” As Emma Link, a Furman senior and Kappa Kappa Gamma’s delegate to the Panhellenic Council, explained “dirty rushing is failing to abide by the rules given to us by Panhellenic to create a positive and fair recruitment for all sororities. Bid promising is telling a girl that she will get a bid from your sorority or telling her that she is going to be your future ‘little’ sister, etc.”
Reports indicates that “dirty rushing” and “bid promising” are not only topics of discussion at Panhellenic Council meetings, but there are also extensive and strict rules—backed up by chapter fines—to prevent sorority members from engaing in these behaviors with first year students. For example, multiple members of Furman sororities report that they cannot follow PNMs on social media without special permission. In short, although dirty rushing and bid promising might happen even with an earlier recruitment process, in my opinion Furman’s drawn-out, long-lasting semester of “informal” recruitment forces Panhellenic to enforce restrictive rules that often inhibit PNMs from developing genuine friendships with sorority members.
In contrast, rules limiting fraternity members interactions with potential new brothers (PNBs – yes, I am coining this phrase) are few and far between. According to Furman Junior Luke Allcock, Vice President of Judicial Affairs on the Interfraternity Council (IFC), fraternities cannot bid promise, provide alcohol to underage PNBs, or host unregistered events with PNBs. However—unlike sororities—fraternities host PNBs on their halls in Lakeside, their apartments in North Village, and even their houses off-campus. Moreover, PNBs face much less scrutiny than PNMs. For example, Allcock explained that fraternities do not “formally track (the PNBs) they are meeting.” In short, though fraternities certainly have their issues—hazing, for example—their recruitment process has far fewer restrictions than sororities.
The distinct rules surrounding recruitment processes could be chalked up to differences between the IFC and Panhellenic Council. Panhellenic is a governing body; IFC is not. However, it is curious that an organization that empowers young women trusts them so little when it comes to the recruitment process. However, if Furman’s administration and Panhellenic are unwilling to budge on their strict rules and regulations, then—at the very least—those rules and regulations should not last for an entire, exhausting semester. Therefore, Furman’s administration, Greek Community, and student body should reconsider the advantages of an earlier rush situated around fall break.