Searching for sorority sisters

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September 7, 2007

4:20 AM

Add/drop ends today, signaling for many the conclusion of a period of constant class changes. On the very night that each student’s class schedule is finalized, hundreds will commence on a new journey filled with decisions and commitments relatively more complicated than deciding whether to take chemistry or art history — sorority recruitment.

p. The recruitment process really began last Sunday, which was the deadline for online registration for those wishing to be involved in recruitment. Reminiscent of a college application (minus the essays), registration included listing high school and college activities and GPAs as well as sorority legacies.

p. Potential recruits next faced a mandatory informational meeting at which the Inter-Sorority Council presented a slide show promoting the many aspects of Greek life, including sisterhood, philanthropy and networking. Clad in bright green shirts, ISC leaders hid their chapter loyalties, as they are required to do throughout recruitment in order to be neutral and aid in the process. At this meeting, recruits also met with their recruitment counselors, who act as guides for their groups of recruits, answering questions and addressing concerns.

p. Among the many rules structuring the formal sorority recruitment process, ISC aims to promote Greek life as a whole, and not to create bias in recruits toward a particular chapter. Similarly, counselors encourage recruits to leave behind notions about specific chapters and sorority life in general.

p. “We encourage women to go through recruitment with an open mind; meet the women here in W&M’s Greek community and see what we are all about,” Alexandra Kielty ’09, ISC Vice President of Recruitment, said. “Many people come into college with preconceived stereotypes about what being in a sorority is, and we find that once people actually come into the chapter houses and talk with our sorority women, a lot of those ideas go out the window.”

p. Small pink handbooks, serving as a rulebook for the process, were handed out to potential members. The book outlines rules, addresses concerns and even recommends wardrobe options for each event. Most importantly, the handbook outlines dates and times for each of the many complicated rounds.

p. Round one of formal sorority recruitment consists of two days of open houses, in which recruits can visit each of the 10 participating chapters. A major change to the event schedule, which switches rounds two and three, has been introduced this year. Round two this year is philanthropy day. Skit day will take place during round three, in which recruits can visit up to five chapters and watch skits on what their sisterhood means to them.
“We wanted women going through recruitment to be able to have more time to talk to women in the chapters before making a more drastic release,” Kielty said. Although the initial two rounds are free, recruits must pledge a $25 commitment fee to remain in round three. The final round of recruitment allows recruits to visit up to three chapters.

p. Following this round, on preference night, recruits visit up to three chapters and then rank them in order of which they most prefer to join.

p. On the eve of making the commitment of joining a sorority, there are a range of levels of preparedness among the women embarking on the process. In addition to a long-term commitment, the required yearly dues for each chapter are in the $400 to $500 range. At the potential new member information meeting, ISC also addressed academic concerns. Approximately 30 percent of undergraduate women at the College belong to a sorority, and the GPAs for these women are comparable to the overall womens’ GPAs on campus, which is enforced at a minimum GPA requirement of 2.0. While some may be certain of the social as well as financial obligation, for many, the decision to rush and eventually to pledge is a complicated one.

p. Of the approximately 330 women who signed up for recruitment, around 60 percent are freshmen. After only one full week of classes and freedom from the reign of a packed orientation schedule, the decision to participate in recruitment is a particularly stressful one for freshmen. For upperclassmen, whose routines have already been established, the decision remains multi-faceted. Though many athletes manage the balance between sports and Greek life, the College’s women’s lacrosse team requires that freshmen refrain from participating. “Freshman year is a stressful time, and our coaches didn’t want us to be overwhelmed by joining a sorority,” said Katie Delaney ’10. “This year, I feel like I have a more set routine, so I am going to try [recruitment] out and see what I think.”

p. Many intend to try the process out just to see if it suites them, including Melsie McReynolds ’09. “Last year I decided to [participate] to make sure it was something that I didn’t want to do, so that I knew I wouldn’t regret not trying it,” she said. “The process was kind of intimidating because I never really pictured myself in a sorority.”

p. Still, she found that recruitment was a fulfilling experience even though she decided not to pledge. “It was interesting seeing the different sides of the houses, especially on skit day — each house really has a different personality,” she said. “I could see myself in a couple of the houses. It was fun seeing that I could fit in somewhere, had I decided to commit.”

p. For those that do end up pledging a sorority, it is clear that many have a positive experience. “To me, being Greek has a lot to do with building and maintaining character,” ISC Vice President of Community Service Kelly Carter ’09 said. “I personally believe that volunteerism naturally builds character, both of which seem to be uniquely important to William and Mary students in general, and is special to the Greek community. Whether it is giving time, money and/or energy, each member of the Greek communhttp://flathatnews.com/textpattern/index.php?event=article#advanced
Advanced Optionsity donates a portion of themselves to someone else, which attests to their character and holds promise for where that will take them and the community in the future.”

p. For freshmen and upperclassmen alike, the decision to rush is a multi-faceted one.

p. Whether for social aspects or philanthropic opportunities, joining a sorority comes with time, social and financial commitments. The ISC encourages women to try out the process and go into it with an open mind about Greek life.

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