Sun. Apr 5th, 2020

Snow presents challenges to sorority recruitment

Last week, undergraduate women participating in The Panhellenic Council’s Formal Recruitment returned from winter break earlier than most students.

The well-organized event, planned months in advance, was thrown off course when winter storm Helena struck Winston-Salem on Friday night.

However, cheers swept through Reynolda Campus Tuesday night as young women received bids from different sororities.

Bid cards were delivered to Potential New Members (PNMs) in Benson Tuesday evening — a day after the originally scheduled distribution.

Senior Emily Beisler is the Gamma Rho Chi (GRC) coordinator for 2017’s recruitment process. A GRC is essentially a counselor for potential new members. “About 480 women went through recruitment this year … which is more than usual,” Beisler said.

To date, The Panhellenic Council is made up of eight all-women organizations: Alpha Delta Pi, Chi Omega, Delta Delta Delta, Delta Zeta, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Beta Gamma, Kappa Delta, and Kappa Kappa Gamma.

Before sororities, local societies were outlets for Wake Forest women to gather in sisterhood. 

The history of these organizations began in 1948, when Strings was formed  — others societies followed suit. 

According to The Office of Student Engagement’s website, “With the booming population [of society affiliation] by the 90s, the Intersorority Council voted to join with inter/national sororities from the National Panhellenic Council.  This resulted in a sweeping transition from local societies to national sororities in 1993.”

Now, women interested in joining a sorority within the Panhellenic Council can attend recruitment, which is held the week before the start of the second semester each year.  It’s a four-day process. 

On day one, PNMs attend parties at all eight organizations. On day two PNM’s attend up to six parties followed by day three, up to four parties, and day four, up to two parties.  PNM’s can drop out of the process until they sign the MRABA — a binding agreement that states if that if a PNM accepts the bid, they can’t go through recruitment again for an entire year.

Typically, women receive bids the day before classes begin. This year, day three of recruitment went on “pause” for a day due to winter storm Helena, resulting in new members finding out about bids after classes on Tuesday.

Snow flurries arrived at campus on Friday evening, and promptly, Betsy Adams, the director of fraternity and sorority life, called a meeting to discuss the storm with sorority presidents and recruitment chairs.

Frances Wells, the president of Kappa Kappa Gamma, was one of the sorority leaders who attended the meeting.

“In the middle of day two parties I got an email from Adams asking to meet during our dinner break about what we should do about the snowstorm,” Wells said.

Wells said that the meeting “caught everyone off guard, because these plans had been made for months.” 

Additionally, Wells recalls Adams saying: “We can’t have recruitment tomorrow for the safety of our students: here’s the new plan.”

The new plan consisted of pushing back recruitment by one day.  Preference night was moved from Sunday evening to Monday morning.  Bid cards were distributed Tuesday night instead of Monday afternoon. 

Wells says that it was hard for her to tell her chapter about the change of plans because she knew everyone would be disappointed.

Chapters and PNMs were not the only people affected by the snowstorm switch-up. The snow also created a lot of anxiety for the recruitment team.

Beisler says she, “talks to the PNMs who need extra consoling, and we just make sure that girls are happy and are having a healthy recruitment process.”

When the storm hit, Beisler faced unique challenges as a counselor. The delay added an extra sense of anxiety among the women on campus.

She says that, “for some girls it was a good day to relax and catch up on sleep … while for others is made the week more stressful.”

Active members recall the stress associated with recruitment week as a PNM.

“The entire process was very overwhelming because I was so unfamiliar with sorority recruitment,” sophomore Sarah Thompson said. “I had no idea what to expect.”

The main issue with bid day being pushed back is that PNMs and active members are not supposed to interact with each other during the recruitment process.

With many active members and PNMs in the same classes, it was crucial that everyone maintain the strict silence policy between active members, PNMS, GRC’s and the recruitment team.

The first day of classes was undoubtedly more awkward this year as silence was crucial to maintaining honor within the recruitment process.  Surely, all involved are sighing a social breath of relief as we head into the second week of school.