By Haleigh Griffin
New rules implemented to create a more comfortable sorority recruitment process and increase recruitment registration rates seem to be working as more than 300 women participated in the first weekend of Furman’s formal sorority recruitment Jan. 18-20.
Though no major changes were made to recruitment itself, Furman did modify the rules governing how potential new members and sorority members can interact during the fall period of informal recruitment.
In previous years, sorority women were forbidden from forming any close-knit friendships with incoming freshmen and from exchanging phone numbers or giving rides. The goal was to help women in the freshman class remain unbiased as they entered recruitment in the spring, allowing them to pick the sorority that would best fit them.
For the first time this year, that rule is no longer in place, which Cameron Smith, Assistant Director for Student Organizations and Greek Life, said is “not only more welcoming but much more natural.”
Junior Suzy Schmalbeck, a Pi Chi leader, said she believes the changes are beneficial to everyone involved.
“Girls can give each other rides to church and exchange numbers. We can make friends with the girls before we ever meet them at actual recruitment so we can get to know them on deeper levels and really know what sisterhood they’d fit in best,” she said.
Furman has also cut sorority budgets for this year’s recruitment in the hopes that sororities will spend less money on banners and other decorations. Smith said the goals is to create a “no frills recruitment process” that allows sororities to focus more on the values of potential new members.
“I’m not worried about [these new rules] having a negative effect on our [recruitment] process at all,” Smith said. “I think, if anything, the contact between upper class women and potential new members has caused an increase in the amount of women registering to go through the process, because they know our women for who they really are; they’re realizing this is a community and cohort of women they would like to join.”
Another big change is the “dry recruitment” policy, which follows the guidelines of the National Panhellenic Conference, a conference that lays out the rules for sisterhoods across the nation. The policy forbids sorority women from alcohol during the entirety of the recruitment process, which is meant to help ensure that the women choosing their newest recruits will be completely sound of mind when they make their decisions.
One rule that remains, though, is the “Strict Silence Week” during which potential new members may not speak to sorority members. The rule aims to lower bias right before recruitment and make certain that newcomers make their sister choices independently. In addition to not speaking to the potential new members, sorority women have been asked not to talk to the Pi Chis during recruitment. This new corollary to the strict silence rule is meant to help the Pi Chis remain sources of unbiased support for potential new members.
“It’s been really hard,” Schmalbeck said of the silence. “My best friend is in my sorority and it’s so hard not talking to her all week! But I get the purpose; we’re supposed to make our girls [the freshmen they’ve volunteered to help through the rush process] our biggest priority and be unbiased about what sororities they like or dislike.”