It’s January, ladies. Even if you stan that G.D.I. title (a goddamn independent, or in layman’s terms, not in a sorority) you may still know the stress second-hand that comes with sorority recruitment the first two weeks of January. As a former sister of an Ohio State chapter and Vice President of Recruitment itself, I know all the stress, the fun, and the bullshit that comes with recruitment on both sides of the story.
An institution that most of our parents associate with either hazing or golden friendships that last a lifetime, sororities today truly provide an opportunity for leadership and community on a campus as big as ours. Plus, Ohio State’s no-hazing policy is taken very seriously in the houses of women on Greek row.
If you don’t already know how it works, here’s a basic rundown. The first “round” (Friday into Saturday) of recruitment, all PNM.’s (potential new members) visit every Panhellenic (traditional social sorority) house on campus and have conversations with the sisters. The PNM.’s list the houses they most want to return to on a sheet of paper at the end of the day, and rank in order the last ones that they least want to return to. This way, when the sororities decide based on a ranking system unique to every national chapter who to invite back for the next round, if the PNM.’s were not invited back to one of their favorites, the first on their list of least-favorites is added back onto their schedule. Every day the maximum list of houses they’re allowed to be invited back to shortens from a max of eleven houses, dwindling eventually down to three houses on the final Sunday, or “Preference Round”.
Still nervous about going through recruitment or teetering on the edge of signing up at the last minute? Here’s some insight from sorority leaders on the other side right now that might help ease your nerves.
Hannah Topliff from Pi Beta Phi knows the anxiety you may be going through anticipating two straight weekends of non-stop conversation and quickly changing schedules.
“It’s such a bad process! You come into these big rooms (in the Ohio Union), some girls have all eleven houses on their list and some girls have two. Do you know how hard that is? You think that something is wrong with you but NOTHING IS WRONG WITH YOU, and that’s not fair.”
At the same time, however, Topliff knows the rules in place have lead to her being with her sisters for life: “Think about what you like, don’t think about what others are thinking going through the process. As cheesy as it sounds, you do need to trust the process. It has a weird way of working out right.”
Alex Russell from Alpha Xi Delta, however, found the classic recruitment phrase “trust the process” more dizzying than satisfying when she went through: “For some reason, I didn’t find much comfort in it. Instead, I calmed my nerves by focusing on making my decisions based off of the experiences and thoughts that I had. It was difficult because I went through recruitment with my roommate and friends, but it was so worth it on Bid Day when we all ran to different chapter houses.”
Values-based conversations are at the core of formal recruitment. Time is crunched, but every chapter matches up a sister or two with a PNM. to chat with during the round. Alley Walker, a member of Alpha Chi Omega, recommends leaning back on activities and achievements you already know well.
“Don’t be afraid to dive into some things you did in high school, not everyone can get involved right away in college. Get excited about things you did in high school or things you still want to join at OSU.”
Topliff recommends finding chemistry with the girl talking to you, and paying attention to how you feel during and after every conversation.
“Houses where I could have genuine conversations and not worry about what I was saying was important. Every time I left Pi Phi, I had the biggest smile on my face and I didn’t want to leave. I didn’t feel that strongly at other houses, where every girl I talked to we had great conversations and we laughed and I was my weird self and people accepted me for that.”
Russell recommends letting the sorority sister hosting you lead the conversation.
“Truthfully, I think having values-based conversations can be difficult when you don’t know the person that you are talking to very well. One of the things I aim to do when talking to a PNM. is to figure out what things matter most to her. Having this goal not only helps me guide the conversation in the right directions, but is an effective way to learn who a woman is and if she’s the right fit for Alpha Xi.”
These girls also helped dispel some infamous misconceptions about sororities. Topliff knows recruitment can easily come off as “superficial.”
“You get dressed up to look your best, we look our best, so sometimes you’re missing the point that these are values-based conversations. It’s not about what color your hair is or what designer you’re wearing, it’s about your personality and how it matches with the house.”
Walker agrees that outfits are not the focus of the event, and are rather another way to share more about who you are.
“Be yourself in every part of everything. Wear outfits that you like that you feel you look best in, you don’t have to fit a certain standard or answer questions right or wrong. I remember people more based on if they stood out, not if they just wore something basic.”
As far as recruitment no-no’s go, all girls agree that there isn’t anything absolutely detrimental you can do to be cut from houses. It’s all in the chemistry of the conversation, but basic manners and attitude do still matter.
“It’s based off of what we perceive your values to be,” Walker shared. “Body language and being rude will never get you anywhere in life, let alone sorority recruitment.”
And most importantly, no one gives a shit about the tier-system.
“We’re a values-based recruitment, so I think we look for those deeper conversations that push past the surface-level, push past that whole tier-system, because at the end of the day none of that matters,” Topliff said. “No one behind the scenes thinks about it. I know that when you’re going through recruitment the ‘tier-system’ is something you think about, but all of us behind the scenes, we don’t. We’re just looking for our next best-friend’s little and things like that.”
Registration for PHA sorority recruitment closes on January 7th at 11:59 P.M and can be found at sfl.osu.edu/secure/join.