Winter recruitment for Fraternity and Sorority Life commenced virtually this semester, with rush events occurring over online platforms throughout the process.
The Panhellenic Association, a council that hosts 17 chapters, hosted a virtual primary recruitment schedule, starting with the open house round on Jan. 21 and closing with bid day on Feb. 1. The process included four total rounds of recruitment events. Fraternities and sororities were not allowed to recruit freshmen in the fall, per University of Michigan policy, so last month’s rush was supposed to be the first for incoming students conducted during the pandemic.
The Daily reached out to numerous fraternities about their virtual rush, none of which replied in time for publication.
LSA junior Elaine Skaggs, president of the Panhellenic Association, wrote in an email to The Daily that all rush events for Panhellenic chapters were coordinated to adhere to recently amended Panhellenic recruitment guidelines, as well as COVID-19 guidelines posted by the Centers for Disease Control.
“Last semester, the Panhellenic Association voted to amend recruitment guidelines to fit its virtual format,” Skaggs said. “The entire recruitment process was organized with CDC safety guidelines in mind. Following these guidelines, all rounds of recruitment were held virtually over Zoom.”
Skaggs also said the Panhellenic Executive Board was in constant communication with Panhellenic chapters to make sure the recruitment process went as smoothly as possible for potential new members.
“The VP of Recruitment and Panhellenic Executive Board is in constant communication with chapter Recruitment Chairs to ensure that all chapters follow Panhellenic guidelines,” Skaggs said. “Additionally, the VP of Recruitment elects and trains Rho Omegas, recruitment councilors. Rho Omegas, typically upperclassmen, temporarily disassociate from their chapters to aid and guide PNMs (potential new members) through the recruitment process. Specifically, they help coordinate PNMs schedules and provide unbiased advice when needed.”
LSA sophomore Alex Trubey, a member of Alpha Delta Pi, said it was interesting to see how quickly the Panhellenic Association made the switch to a virtual recruitment schedule, especially compared to her in-person recruitment process last year.
“I was actually really impressed with how our recruitment team handled it and how everyone came together to do it,” Trubey said.
Trubey also mentioned how the virtual process seemed to eliminate some preconceptions potential new members face while going through the in-person recruitment process.
“I thought it was definitely less personal than in-person rush, but at the same time, I thought it removed a lot of biases, like being able to see everyone’s whole body and making snap judgments, that we have from being in-person,” Trubey said. “There’s a lot of preconceptions or preconceived notions about people who go through recruitment, or people who are in sororities, so I thought this was a really actually effective way to kind of alleviate those concerns.”
Trubey noted how the virtual recruitment process encouraged more women to rush this year compared to past in-person semesters.
“I talked to a couple girls who said that they wouldn’t have gone through recruitment if it hadn’t been online just because there’s a lot of running around, just a lot of more in-person stuff and, for a lot of people, that makes them really nervous,” Trubey said. “I know not everyone likes the Zoom aspect of life right now, but I think it does make it a little easier to talk to people.”
Almost 1,200 women participated in primary recruitment this semester, and each sorority except Phi Sigma Rho, which participates in an alternative recruitment process, added about 60 new members, according to Skaggs. Skaggs wrote in her email the Panhellenic Association was excited with the number of women who participated in the virtual recruitment process as well as the number of women who were added to different Panhellenic Chapters.
Engineering freshman Trisha Chatterjee, who rushed for the first time this semester, said the virtual process made joining a sorority more appealing and ultimately led her to joining the Sigma Kappa sorority.
“Since it was over Zoom, that’s honestly probably why I rushed … it was very much like having conversations and whatever you wanted it to be, you could talk about anything, so it wasn’t necessarily like an interview, it was more like a casual conversation,” Chatterjee said.
Despite its virtual nature, Trubey said she was still able to make connections with many of the potential new members who went through the process.
“My favorite part was just getting to meet so many girls,” Trubey said. “They were all so great and obviously so smart and so incredible and the cool thing is … I could tell immediately when girls and I would click and have great conversations, and it seemed like Zoom wasn’t really a hindrance to that. That was something that I was pretty nervous about going into this, so I was really excited to see that.”
Daily Staff Reporter Lara Janosz can be reached at email@example.com.
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