In Athens this fall, the buzz is higher than ever before with new and old students returning to campus, in-person classes starting up and in-person Greek Life recruitment around the corner.
Every fall semester the Greek community on Ohio University’s campus holds a recruitment process, where each of the 10 sororities focus on recruiting new members. With more students back on campus, the Greek community and the Women’s Panhellenic Association is hoping to see a big turnout of excited new recruits in the upcoming weeks.
Since getting involved in the sorority recruitment process can be nerve-wracking and somewhat intimidating, The Post sat down with McKenna Black, vice president of recruitment, to talk about what recruits should know about the recruitment process, what getting involved in a sorority looks like and hopes for the future of recruitment.
The Post: How does the recruitment process work?
Black: For us, it’s a two weekend process. But during the week between the weekends, we have events where your rho gammas, or recruitment counselors, can hang out with you – we do study tables and stuff. We start September 17 and we have a potential new member orientation, where they’ll come and get to know how the recruitment process works. They’ll be able to answer any questions and get to meet their recruitment counselors then. Their groups, right now they are about 10 people a group, but the more people we have signed up the bigger the groups will be. And this will be who they go to if they have questions or stuff like that.
The first full day of recruitment is when the women will see all 10 chapters on campus. They’ll be able to go through and get a basic understanding of each chapter. The second day is community day where the chapters will talk about their sisterhood and their houses and talk about what they like to do as a group or organization. The third day is more philanthropic in talking about what they value and what they share with each other, so going and talking about, each of our chapters here on campus have a different philanthropy and what they represent. They talk about the events they do on campus and what they do for the community through that. The last day is ritual, and they talk about their beliefs, their morals, values and what they are looking to find in a sisterhood and chapter. Each day focuses on a different thing, but as a whole, it's about having a mutual selection process and finding what works best for a chapter and for a woman going through the process.
The Post: So currently you guys are prepping the recruits?
Black: So right now we are doing a lot of recruiting and trying to get women to sign up for the process. We haven't had a lot of events where this is mandatory – this is prep work. So right now we are trying to get people signed up. Leading up to it we send out emails and we’re just letting them know what's going on in our community. We are also having events and tabling sessions so women that have signed up and have questions leading up to it, can go to those events and get those questions answered.
The Post: As a freshman, what drove you to join a sorority and get involved in the panhellenic association?
Black: For me, I have two younger brothers. I have no actual sisters, so I’ve always wanted something like a sister and now I feel like I have hundreds of them. I was also looking for something to take leadership roles and be super involved in the campus. I came from a really small community and I wanted to be a part of something that was bigger than myself and so joining Greek life I’ve been able to rise as a leader, served as a chapter president and now I serve for the community leading recruitment. For me, it’s just a way to be bigger than a little part of this and take on a completely new role, not only within the Greek community, but in the university as well. It’s a great way to network and make connections.
The Post: What are networking benefits when joining a sorority?
Black: We all attend each other's events and stuff. If there is a philanthropic event or if there’s an open event to the community, a lot of women will go and show their support and through this they will be able to talk to the girls that are in different organizations or even the men in different organizations. Everyone is very willing to help each other out.
The Post: What type of charity events do sororities get involved in?
Black: All of us follow our national philanthropies. Alpha Delta Pi works with the Ronald McDonald house. Chi Omega works with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. We all do our own thing and we do it across the country, so we’re making a better impact. They all pick their own events to do on their own time on campus. They pick their own things to do here to filter into a bigger goal. So big ones are … all of our chapters do a food based thing. Alpha Xi Delta does a taco night – they do $5 for unlimited tacos at their house. Then most of them do an activity or a sporting event. Alpha Omicron Pi does ‘Strike Out Arthritis’ and usually they do dodgeball or they’ll do baseball. Sigma Kappa does ‘Sigma Soccer’ and they do a soccer tournament one weekend. So we all do different things at a local level to support a national level.
The Post: For students who are financially disadvantaged, do sororities offer financial aid?
Black: We do offer scholarships. It’s more of a need-based thing. We also offer payment plans. Each chapter is really flexible on what they do. Some chapters pay a monthly thing, some work with you. We are also very flexible at a national level to help you get scholarships, so our national companies will come in and help us pay. Each chapter does look a little different in their payment plan and payment process. And you can use your financial aid, so what you get from FAFSA or any need-based scholarships you are allowed to put toward all of our chapters. With this, if you are a sophomore debating living in a chapter house or in a dorm, it is cheaper in all of our chapters to live in a chapter house than it is for a year in the dorms. And we all offer meal plans as well.
The Post: Are there certain qualities you are looking for in recruits?
Black: Every chapter values different things and what they are looking for. A big thing is people… they want people that are committed. You want someone kind, someone that wants personal growth. You want every woman to succeed in their chapter and you want them to have similar morals and values of what you’re looking for. So each chapter is a little different in that aspect, but when it comes to our chapters they are really looking for you to find happiness out of it. They don’t want you to be miserable in your experience. They want you to enjoy it, to make life-long friends, to have these experiences and stuff like that.
The Post: Do a lot of girls get rejected by the recruitment process?
Black: So we do have people that don’t end up in a chapter. Sometimes that’s by their own choosing, they go through the process and they're just like ‘This just isn’t for me,’ and they do drop out of the recruitment process. We’ve had people that do not get a bid, although that's a super rarity it is something that happens. It is more of a mutual selection process, so if you are getting good vibes from a chapter and they are getting good vibes from you, you are gonna have no problem. It’s more of a rarity that women don’t get a bid than people think. It’s a very very small number. If they go through it and they’re like ‘This isn’t for me,’ a lot of people do our informal recruitment process, which happens in the spring. And they can have the ability to find a home in the Greek community that way.
The Post: During the recruitment process, is there anything you think the Greek community can improve on?
Black: I think a lot of sorority recruitment is looked at as a stereotype. As someone who is in the community, I don’t see it as a stereotype because all our chapters are different. For me personally, I’d like for people to know that it is not something that you should be scared about. It’s an exciting time for people in the chapters going through the process. It’s something that should be looked at as an experience and not a stereotype in that situation. I think another thing that I would personally like to work on in our chapters is growing more of a community based recruitment. Every chapter does their own thing and a lot of the women go into the process looking at each chapter individually, when in reality all of our chapters work together for one goal of being successful and helping each other. For me, that’s something I wish I could change. But again that takes time. And that is something that hopefully this year we really get into focusing on: “we” as a community and not “me” as a chapter based recruitment.