Cal Poly sororities are more popular this year than ever before, if the record-breaking number of new recruits means anything.
Six hundred and eighty-three students signed up to participate in this fall’s Panhellenic sorority recruitment. Of these girls, 518 accepted invitations to particular sororities. This is the highest number in Cal Poly’s Panhellenic history.
There are 32 Greek organizations on campus including fraternities and multicultural organizations. Eight of the 32 chapters are considered Panhellenic sororities. These sororities are: Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Phi, Alpha Omicron Pi, Chi Omega, Gamma Phi Beta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Sigma Kappa and Alpha Epsilon.
Kaylee Trapletti, Panhellenic president and Gamma Phi Beta member, said multicultural sororities focus more on a common cultural background whereas Panhellenic sororities emphasize common social interests.
She said she thinks the increase in recruits might be because girls are starting to realize the benefit of being in a sorority from a networking perspective.
“I’m currently looking for jobs right now, and I’ve gotten so many connections and networking tools via our alumni,” Trapletti said. “That’s been a huge resource for me.”
Courtney Preston, vice president of Panhellenic recruitment and Alpha Chi Omega member, said the sororities generated more interest without changing their recruiting tactics. She cited emails, fliers and presence at events like Farmers’ Market and Cal Poly Open House as traditional advertising methods.
“I wouldn’t say that we necessarily put more money into (advertising and events),” Preston said. “I think what happened this year was that there has been a lot more interest. Greek life has really become more prevalent.”
Another factor is the students themselves.
Cal Poly greek life coordinator Diego Silva said students are prioritizing connections such as greek life, despite the increased financial difficulties that joining a sorority can present.
According to Silva, the cost of belonging to a sorority can range from $800 to $1,200 per year. He said these fees cover health insurance for girls who are injured at sorority-sponsored events, fees to the national headquarters and materials for chapter-hosted activities. The cost of chapter-specific T-shirts is also included in some sororities’ costs. For others, the girls pay out of pocket.
Silva said many members of the greek community were worried these expenses would deter students who have been impacted by the current economic conditions. These fears, however, have not been realized.
“As a national discussion, that was a big fear when the economy began to go down,” he said. “In the greek world, people thought that fraternities and sororities would be the first things that would be cut back. There was a little difference, but for the most part, (recruitment growth) still continued. In some parts, it’s gotten better.”
Silva said students prioritize social interactions when deciding what sacrifices will be made.
“I think it’s that students are still seeking out the college experience,” Silva said. “They want to make friends, and they want to network with people; they want to get involved with student organizations, and fraternities and sororities seem to offer a little bit of everything. I think that’s why they continue to be popular amongst our incoming freshmen.”
Nutrition freshman and Chi Omega recruit Ashley Cipponeri said it is worth the money for access to information about campus happenings.
“I’m going to be paying for my own sorority,” Cipponeri said. “I’m in the Cerro Vista apartments. It’s a little bit farther away from all the campus stuff, so I feel like I don’t get hands-on what’s going on everywhere. So joining a sorority shows me how many activities are going on every day.”
Preston agreed, saying she thinks students see joining a sorority as an investment with continual rewards.
“It’s something that’s worth spending money on. You could go to a bar, you know, whatever, and spend money on that,” Preston said. “Or you could go and hang out at a house with a bunch of friends like, have a movie night, and have all these girls — like 50 to 100 girls — that just want to hang out with you and be with you. And that’s actually a really amazing thing if you’re part of it.”
Preston also said the money doesn’t really matter, when compared to the benefits of “belonging.”
“There’s that notion, that idea, that you’re buying your friends. But I’ve been involved in greek life for five years, and it’s not that. It’s the fact that you are finding a family,” Preston said.
Overall, the sororities averaged a total of 73 new members per chapter. This year the majority of new recruits were freshmen, though all grade levels were represented. The next Panhellenic recruitment will occur in the spring.