The Laws of Inequality for Greek Recruitment
If fraternities recruited like sororities did at Wittenberg, they would chant songs at the door they had been practicing for months. “We really, really dig Delt Sig Sig Sig!” or “I am a B-E-T-A T-H-E-T-A!” would fill the streets.
They would line up on their house’s stairs and when the clock strikes 5, they would escort potential members in, clapping and smiling, just like they’d practiced. Everyone would be wearing the matching outfits they had approved for the evening, pink tops with white or tan bottoms and stone-colored shoes. They would sip milkshakes or nibble on cookies, and watch a video set to sweet piano music where brothers laugh and blow bubbles and glitter into the camera.
Instead, fraternity recruitment on campus this year includes Jackbox games, bowling, movies, and five separate events featuring Lee’s or Cane’s chicken. The vast differences in formal recruitment processes between sororities and fraternities on Wittenberg’s campus stem from the national bylaws between their governing boards. All sororities on campus are governed by the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), and fraternities are governed by the Interfraternity Council (IFC). They set the rules that keep the sororities sipping milkshakes and singing songs and the fraternities watching football and eating fried chicken.
Formal sorority recruitment takes place over four consecutive nights. Potential New Members (PNMs) work on a schedule that is organized to the minute to ensure equal time at each house, requiring them to visit every house they are invited to–this includes all six houses during house tours and philanthropy nights.
At the end of each night, PNMs rank their preferences for houses. A mutual selection process between the sororities and the PNMs determines which houses, if any, a PNM will be invited back to the following night. A PNM is only allowed to attend a maximum of four houses on sisterhood night and two houses on preference night. This leads up to receiving one bid on Bid Day, which she can either accept or decline.
Each fraternity house has different rush events that follow an official rush schedule but are staggered across multiple weeks. Men rushing fraternities are welcome to attend as many or as few events as they would like for the five fraternities on campus. There is no restriction on how many invite-only preference events a potential member can attend, and there is no limit to the number of bids he can receive on bid day. From there, he can choose his brotherhood. If a female declines her bid, she is ineligible to join another NPC sorority for one year.
To follow Wittenberg’s Panhellenic standing rules, sororities hold all of their events in their houses and must obtain permission to have the event held elsewhere on campus. According to the IFC bylaws, fraternities only need special approval for a location if it is more than 35 miles from campus. Locations, this year, for fraternities included the Chiller in Springfield, Victory Lanes, and Sakura Hibachi Grill.
Sorority events are divided into three themed days: philanthropy, sisterhood, and preference. PNMs are invited to take a snack at each house and watch a video that addresses the theme for the night. The rest of the round is spent in conversation with current members in what Wittenberg panhellenic standing rules refer to as a “no frills recruitment.”
The NPC bylaws also outlines for sororities the types of conversations they should be holding with PNMS: “Focus on conversations between chapter members and potential new members about organizational values and member organizations.” While fraternities must still have their events approved by the IFC and recruit based on their values, rush events typically center around an activity, such as broomball, trivia or ultimate frisbee, and most fraternity preference events are held over a formal dinner.
Sororities are prohibited from offering any form of entertainment, gifts or money to PNMs, and no items can be taken from a chapter house during formal recruitment. Such restrictions are not included in Wittenberg’s IFC bylaws. While women are forbidden from leaving a sorority house with the napkin they wiped their cookie crumbs with, one fraternity event this semester features a poker tournament where the winner will leave with a 25 dollar Chipotle gift card.
Sorority rules also prohibit contact with PNMs outside of “friendly, casual conversation,” including no texting, “friending,” emailing or social media communication. Similar rules do not exist in Wittenberg’s IFC bylaws.
These regulations are the root of recruitment differences on campus, a reason fraternities can cheer, “Rush Delt” or “Rush Phi Psi” while sororities say, “Go Greek.”