Much like classes and other ordinarily in-person activities, sororities and fraternities were forced to adapt recruitment — the enlisting of new members — to an online format.
For Panhellenic recruitment, potential new members (PNM) would typically walk and take busses to all of the different sorority houses and participate in events such as “Sisterhood,” “Philanthropy Day” and “Pref Night.”
In past years, fraternities would have an initial barbeque event on campus with booths set up with all of the houses representing themselves. Individuals who are interested would come up and talk to them and get information about events that are going to take place at each fraternity.
Wine and viticulture freshman David Ryan said he decided to rush this year because greek life has always been a part of his life. His parents were both in greek life and his sister is a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma at Georgetown University.
“[Greek life] has been something I have always been surrounded with,” Ryan said. “I do love the comradery of a team and a brotherhood and I definitely was interested [in rushing] going into college and just decided to go for it.”
Online recruitment looked different throughout different organizations.
For Beta Theta Pi, recruitment chair and communications studies major Jake Downing said that they had an event called “Alumni Night” in which alumni from their fraternity appeared on the Zoom calls and talked about their experiences to the potential new members.
“I think the biggest point that came out of Alumni Night was how being in a fraternity or being in Beta specifically helped them after college,” Downing said. “I think when they show that they have these lifelong relationships after college, that definitely showed all the freshmen and PNMs what it means to be in a fraternity.”
Construction management junior Max Eisner, rush chair of Cal Poly’s Jewish fraternity Alpha Epsilon Pi, said how they played online games to connect with the recruits.
“We played this fun game ‘Among Us’ in breakout rooms and it was super fun,” Eisner said. “It is a really good way to be a little bit of an icebreaker and get to know each other, and I was surprised by how well it went.”
Marine science sophomore and member of Kappa Alpha Theta Audrey Sarin said how they got to know potential new members during virtual recruitment through a whiteboard activity on zoom where one can make a whiteboard share screen and different people can annotate it.
During the whiteboard activity on “Philanthropy Day” members of the sorority would ask PNMs different questions about how they would give back to their community and who would benefit from non-profit organizations. Each PNM could make annotations and draw stars on the online whiteboard.
“That was a really cool way to sort of collaborate actives and PNMs alike towards common goals and learning about philanthropy,” Sarin said.
Audio by Nicole Morgan
However, online recruitment was also difficult in a few aspects both for the people hosting it and the people participating.
“With the challenges of online, my job has become more logistically challenging ultimately because all of the levels of recruitment and then also meeting and scheduling all fell on me,” Eisner said. “Over the past three days I have probably spent close to 10 hours just arranging these two-on-one zoom calls.”
Journalism freshman and new member to Kappa Alpha Theta Addison Le Claire said how she was disappointed that she was only able to visit seven out of the ten sorority houses.
“I was just kind of upset how they did not take into consideration that a lot of girls go through recruitment to see all 10 of the houses and the argument they made was there just was not enough space in the Zoom calls,” Le Claire said. “I understand that, but if I am paying a registration fee of [25 dollars] and I am taking time out of my day to go through recruitment and meet all these people, I want to meet all of the people.”
Ryan also said that he was concerned about standing out among 200 other people in the Zoom call since he did not get a lot of one-on-one time with members of fraternities.
“I love meeting all the guys and everyone has been super great and supportive, but it is kind of hard when you see a sea of faces on a screen,” Ryan said.
Ryan said that he spent about one to two hours in Zoom calls each day, as opposed to Le Claire who said she spent on average three to four hours on Zoom per day.
Kinesiology sophomore and member of Kappa Alpha Theta Natalie Schare said her favorite part about virtual rush was getting to talk to the girls.
“When you do it in-person there is a lot of walking around and finding a place to sit and a lot of distractions,” Schare said. “So I think it was really nice as soon as you are in the breakout room you can just start talking to them, so I thought it was a lot easier to get to know them.”
Eisner said one of his favorite parts about online rush was getting to incorporate various forms of media into it.
“I enjoyed the sort of mixed media aspect of it that you might not get in other forms of recruitment,” Eisner said. “You can have videos, you can have games, there are a bunch of different things happening and you have many more options to get creative with it.”
Le Claire expresses a concern that she has about signing her contract, although she said she is really happy to be a part of her sorority.
“I signed my life away to a house that I have not even been inside yet,” Le Claire said. “It is so hard to really pinpoint how I feel about girls or the house in general if I am not actually in the house.”
Sarin said that many chapters will be doing informal recruitment, otherwise known as continuous open bidding (COB) in the winter and spring quarters.
“I would say give COB a try and if it is not for you all you have lost is a couple hours of your time but you might gain something that is really incredible and will stick with you for the rest of your life,” Sarin said.