Moran: Recruitment is changing from bad to better

I didn’t have some fairy tale recruitment. It was bitter and it sucked. I hated nearly every second of it and no one could pay me enough to repeat the four days of pure emotional hell that was.
However now that I have gone through recruitment as both a Potential New Member (PNM) and an Active Member, I have gained some perspective on the process. As much as I love the end result of getting amazing new members, I will never stop feeling uneasy about the entire ordeal.
We as Greek women want to believe that recruitment isn’t shallow, but on some levels it very much is. We care so much about making sure the PNMs dress a certain way on each day that there is a specific pre-recruitment event for that. On the other side, each and every Active Member has to get their outfits and accessories approved by whoever is in charge of their recruitment process and the Greek Life Office has to approve all the decorations and activities done at the parties.
Additionally both PNMs and Active Members are coached to keep the conversation on topics that relate to our values. We want to hear buzzwords like “sisterhood,” “community” and “service” and don’t really stray from those tried and true topics. We want to hear about all the fancy activities the PNMs do to make sure they are “involved.” There is a model of a perfect PNM, one who has a great GPA and balances four clubs and two jobs while volunteering on the weekend.
But here’s the kicker. The reason I love my sisters isn’t because of how involved they are but because they will be the ones consoling me on a bad day and passing me tissues when I cry during “The Lion King.” I love my sisters because they are weird and make my day better every time I see them. Recruitment doesn’t help you get to know the quirky things about a person that makes them a great sister. Short conversations don’t have to be shallow ones. Let’s add some more interesting topics to the mix.
Recruitment isn’t a perfect process, but I will give every Panhellenic Vice President of Recruitment ever all the credit in the world because not one of them ever stops trying to make the process better. And there is no shortage of women in the Greek community trying to do the same thing.
Sigma Psi has leveraged their unique position as a local sorority to become the most inclusive Greek chapter on campus. Because they have no Nationals or Headquarters to report to, they are free to make their own choices about who to welcome into their sisterhood. Sigma Sigma Sigma is another group that allows transgender women in their chapter. While this doesn’t seem like a huge deal, there are plenty of chapters on campus that disallow transgender women from joining on the national level, my own chapter included. While it is easy to complain, let’s first appreciate the fact that the chapters that do have the power to change their policies have done so.
The Northside sororities are having fall open houses to allow PNMs to see Greek life in a less terrifying setting, and it can be so comforting to walk into a recruitment party and recognize even one face. And while some may disagree, I absolutely love that sororities delay recruitment to spring semester here. It allows people to find their identity as a person before they join such a structured group. Fraternities should do that as well.
I see no reason for the difference in recruiting systems. Having two completely separate systems for fraternities and sororities just promotes sexist ideas about Greek life and perpetuates stereotypes about how shallow the sorority recruitment system is.
Additionally we say there is no other way to do recruitment because informal doesn’t work for sororities, but some of the finest members of my sorority have come out of informal recruitment. I know so many amazing members of the Panhellenic community that wanted to drop out after formal recruitment and it was through getting to know a few sisters really well that they made the choice to stay, myself included. That sounds remarkably like informal recruitment. I know that isn’t something that can be changed easily, but delaying fraternity recruitment for first years to the spring would be a great first step.
Recruitment isn’t a beast that can be slain in a year, so I know that any problem I presented here isn’t necessarily one that can be fixed before spring 2017. But as a proud woman in Greek life, I want the community to be conscious of the fact that just because this is the way things are done now, doesn’t mean that they have to be done that way in the future. We are proud to say we have one of the best Greek communities in the country, so let’s do our best to get recruitment up to that standard.

Taylor Moran is a third-year student and a proud sister of Pi Beta Phi.