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Panhel Evaluates Fall Recruiting

By Seema Kacker

MIT’s Panhellenic Association is considering moving sorority recruitment from the end of January to the fall, said Heather M. Pressler ’07, vice president of Panhellenic recruitment for 2005.

Sororities will vote on the proposed change Dec. 5, and if accepted, fall recruitment would begin in 2007, according to a feasibility report published Nov. 21.

Panhel has held its recruitment in the fall before, but moved it to the end of the Independent Activities Period in spring 2002. In the spring of 2005, the Panhellenic Recruitment Assessment Committee was created to evaluate a potential move of recruitment back to the fall, Pressler said.

The report gives a possible schedule for recruitment that begins on Saturday, Sept. 1 and ends Wednesday, Sept. 5. Fall sorority recruitment would take place at the same time as fraternity rush, immediately after orientation week. Recruitment efforts, according to the feasibility report, would begin as soon as potential new members matriculate to MIT.

In its report, the committee suggested that holding fall recruitment could increase the number of members living in their sorority house or facility. Smaller chapters would also benefit by the move to fall recruitment, according to the report.

Specifically, a move to fall recruitment would benefit MIT’s smallest sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi, which in May 2005 had only about 30 sisters. Smaller than the other sororities, which at the time had about 100 members each, AEPhi faces a disadvantage in publicity during the fall term due to a smaller presence on campus.

Additionally, the committee determined that fall recruitment would encourage girls to make decisions about their sororities independently from their friends, limiting the formation of cliques within pledge classes.

“During fall recruitment, friendships are newer and more pliable,” the report states. “Women may be more inclined to make decision independently of their orientation friends than they were with their friends from the first semester.”

Alpha Chi Omega member Doria M. Holbrook ’08 agreed with this tendency, explaining, “I think it’s better for freshmen to go through recruitment in the fall without anyone else’s opinion. They need to make a decision based on who they’re going to fit in with.”

But while sororities can give support to freshmen, Sigma Kappa member Rachel A. Longley ’08 said that a fall recruitment would simply be too soon for a potential new member to even know if she were interested in joining Greek life. “I guess it would be nice to have an immediate support network, but on the same token, they are just getting here and they wouldn’t really know if they want support from those people,” she said.

Longley, who went through recruitment last spring, said she feels certain that she wouldn’t have pledged had recruitment taken place in the fall. “It had just been an idea in the back of my mind, and then an upperclassman I had gotten to know told me, ‘you should really look into that.’ I had the opportunity to see what sororities at MIT are really like. If you’ve just gotten to school, it’s hard to make those decisions right away,” she said.

The report did acknowledge that spring recruitment may benefit the overall sorority community by making it more interconnected. By second semester, new members would have friends who chose to join different chapters. “New members who join in the fall frequently spend a lot of time during their socially formative first semester with members of their own pledge class … it does not result in tight bonds throughout Panhellenic.”

Another concern addressed by Pressler was the amount of time Panhel’s recruitment counselors (PRCs) had to be disaffiliated. “In the spring the PRCs have to be disaffiliated for over a semester, and the National Panhellenic Council really only recommends 30 days,” Pressler said. With the adoption of fall recruitment, this time would be more limited.

The disaffiliation period requires PRCs to hide their sorority affiliations, often by covering up pictures, living somewhere other than the sorority house and paying attention to groups of people they are around, said to PRC Emily Cheng ’06.

The committee considered nine main factors in its report: members occupying sorority houses, Panhel’s relationship with the Interfraternity Council, effectiveness of recruitment councillors, inter-sorority relationships, orientation scheduling, how potential members are influenced, growth potential for smaller chapters, relationship between publicity of sororities and their sizes, and fall term benefits for new members.

The proposed fall recruitment received some criticism from the IFC as well, according to the feasibility report, because it would conflict with rush-girl programs at fraternities. According to the report, there is also the possibility that, to limit competition over women, fraternities may not allow girls into their facilities during the rush period.