Recruitment Inequality

Recruitment for sororities concluded this weekend and, needless to say, there’s been much talk about the process, from both those who are members of Greek Life on our campus and those who are simply vocal about it. I am a female member of a Greek letter organization here at Colgate. I have my own opinions about the organizations, like so many others, but I decided to use my editor’s column as an opportunity to highlight key discrepancies between female and male recruitment and the ways in which I feel Colgate puts female students at a disadvantage through the recruitment process. I feel that there’s more that can be done to help young women interested in joining a Greek letter organization.

These are my opinions and mine alone, and they do not necessarily reflect those of my Greek letter organization as a whole or its members, but I take personal issue with the formal recruitment process. I do not find fault within the Greek letter organizations themselves, but rather with the ways in which they seek new members through the guidelines issued by the Colgate Panhellenic Council and the National Panhellenic Council. There are key differences between female and male recruitment. For example, female recruitment has strict rules regarding when and how potential new members can be approached to discuss their upcoming opportunities. The only real opportunities that women have to talk about their own organization and meet and greet potential new members is one open house in the spring of the year before recruitment starts and then in the four evenings in which women are invited back to the house (if they get invited back each of the nights after the second night). Any deviation from that routine lends rise to accusations of “dirty rushing.” Releases start after the second night, and it is expected that as a collective organization each of the houses determine which women will be coming back.

However, while men are also supposed to follow guidelines, as determined by the Intrafraternity Conference (IFC), many do not appear to follow such regulations to the same standard as sororities on our campus. Male potential new members are regularly invited down to the houses or talk with members of specific Greek letter organizations on their own time. Additionally, their recruitment is a much more casual process: no 20 minute parties with specific rotations and organized groups, whereas taking a napkin from a party can be seen as “gift giving”.

I am loyal to my own organization and am proud to be a part of it, but I am ashamed by the overall recruitment process and the lack of options for female students at our school. The guidelines for women’s recruitment are set through Colgate Panhellenic and National Panhellenic Council, but having only three houses for female students interested in joining a Greek letter organization is frustrating for both the members of the houses and the girls who are interested in joining them. Roughly one third of the young women who entered recruitment at the start of last week did not receive a bid, and this is largely due to the fact that there are only three sororities on our campus. Therefore, to many the recruitment process feels superficial and can even turn people off entirely from Greek letter organizations. The stress of recruitment week, largely stemming from the fact that there are only three potential options from which to choose, is crazy to me. 

I have had such a positive experience being involved in a Greek letter organization that I feel we need more houses to allow more people to get involved. Obviously it is not something that every young woman wants to be a part of, and I respect that; but for those who are interested, there is a serious lack of options. We cannot accommodate what some larger schools can, having upwards of 30 sororities on campus, but we could at least have an equal number to the six fraternities on our campus. I truly believe that if there were more houses for females on our campus, there would be more choices for women to find their niche. It could even be the case, therefore, that having fewer people in each of the houses would allow members to get to know each other in a more genuine manner.

Sorting through close to 300 young women in a span of a few days cannot accurately reveal characteristics and qualities of an individual. Amazing young women can slip through the cracks, and what is left is a distorted way to create a new incoming class into an organization. Maybe you had an off night, and that’s unfortunate, but the impression one makes on the members of a particular house at a recruitment party ends up being the only thing of off which they can base their decisions. Every house on our campus has amazing members, and each year their new classes are fantastic, but this in no way reflects the quality of the young women who go through each house that do not ultimately get a bid. Greek life is not a be-all-end-all and should never be an assessment of personal worth. I have loved being a part of a Greek letter organization, but it is not necessarily for everyone and there are hundreds of other organizations, clubs, community groups and the like for which students can join. But for those who want to be a part of it, I think adding more choices would make for better outcomes.