Cal Poly Panhellenic Association’s formal recruitment drew 1,037 potential new sorority members this year, an all-time high. But by the end of the week, nearly 250 women had dropped out, including some deterred by class conflicts.
Eight Panhellenic sororities took a minimum of 96 women for a total of 789 overall bids. This number does not include Jewish sorority Alpha Epsilon Phi, which is part of Panhellenic but only participates in the beginning of formal recruitment.
Throughout the duration of the program, many potential new members’ classes conflicted with recruitment events, a problem Panhellenic Council President and business administration senior Kristen Henry said her organization was aware of.
“A lot of women that come through recruitment are from the freshman class,” Henry said. “It’s really overwhelming. Oftentimes these women are living alone for the first time, and are having all kinds of new experiences. It can be challenging lumping that in with the first week of classes.”
The current sorority recruitment program lasts a little more than a week, with orientation and education sessions on Monday and Tuesday, house tours on Thursday and Friday, Sisterhood Day on Saturday, Philanthropy Day on Sunday, Preference Night the following Monday and Bid Night the following Tuesday.
“It’s just not meant to accommodate the number of women interested in recruitment,” Henry said.
This year, many women had to miss house tours on Thursday and Friday, Sept. 24-25, because of class conflicts.
During these tours, potential new members met women from each sorority and learned about each organization’s philanthropy, leadership and social opportunities. Meanwhile, existing members considered potential new members for their sororities.
Cal Poly’s Panhellenic Association told the women from the beginning if they missed class for recruitment events, their participation from the recruitment process could be withdrawn, Henry said. Panhellenic also created a Faculty and Staff Student Absence Record so professors could report women who violated the policy.
Prospective sorority women with class during events also filled out a Formal Recruitment Conflict Form. The form notified each chapter of the women who could not make it to their events, and women with conflicts were invited to makeup sessions at the houses they missed.
The makeup events at the chapters took place on Friday, Sept. 25, because many potential new members had class conflicts on Thursday. Some women, however, were unable to attend the makeup events and missed out on touring certain houses altogether.
According to Henry, women who attended class and missed certain chapters’ recruitment events altogether were extended an invitation and asked back to those houses for the next recruitment round.
However, this was not the case for some potential new members. Microbiology freshman Allie Tammen, who was unable to tour two houses because of class conflicts, received no such invitation.
“I heard different things about them and thought it would be cool to check them out,” Tammen said. “But I never got asked back to those houses because I had never been there and they had never met me.”
History freshman Arly Rivas also missed out on two house tours, including Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) and Bid Night because of her class schedule. Rivas was most interested in seeing AXO because she had started a feminist club in high school and the sorority’s philanthropy focuses on raising awareness about domestic violence and women’s issues.
“It just really sucked that I didn’t get to see them because I thought that I would really click with that house,” Rivas said.
Henry said the recruitment schedule was slightly altered in the past to help address class conflicts, but hasn’t been dramatically changed in a long time.
Several people have proposed solutions for future years, including scheduling recruitment before the Week of Welcome (WOW), during the last days of WOW, spreading the events out over the span of two weekends after school starts or holding recruitment activities at different parts of each day, rather than having them all at night.
“All of the chapters really emphasize that academics come first, and (Panhellenic) does too,” Henry said. “We are at college to get an education, first and foremost. I think this is a problem that we definitely hope to see a solution to in the next couple of years.”