Sorority formal recruitment at the University increased by 26 percent this year, continuing a recent upward trend in growth. This year, 202 women signed up to go through the recruitment process this year, up from 160.
The UChicago Panhellenic Council, which is composed of members of the National Panhellenic Council sororities on campus—Alpha Omicron Pi, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Pi Beta Phi—coordinates recruitment, which takes place every October. Fourth-year Claire Shipton, President of the Panhellenic Council, said that there has been an upward trend in recruitment numbers in the past few years. From 2011 to 2014, the number of girls rushing increased by 62 percent.
During formal recruitment, women meet all four sororities through a series of events over several days. Fewer and fewer women are invited back for each day of recruitment. In the mutual selection process, both the sororities and the women rank their top choices, and are matched through an algorithm. On the final day the woman may receive a bid from a single sorority, which she can then choose to accept or deny.
Shipton said recruitment switched from paper to electronic recruitment sign-up several years ago, which helped boost numbers.
“I think one thing that makes a difference is the fact that a lot of the recruitment advertising and recruitment sign-up has been switched to an online process, so in 2011, when I went through recruitment, you kind of found out about recruitment once you came onto campus,” she said.
Shipton also indicated that the switch to an online advertising and sign-up process helped spread interest in sororities by providing an in-depth look at sorority life.
Fourth-year Rachael Nass, president of Pi Beta Phi, attributed the increase in recruitment to improved sorority visibility and advertising.
“I think Panhellenic [Council] has been very active in promoting Greek life, because you see Greek life permeating places it didn’t really permeate before,” Nass said. “I lived in B-J [Burton-Judson] my first year, and I didn’t even know rush occurred… now, I think there are a lot of people in B-J who are aware it’s happening,” she added.
Fourth-year Ellen Mulvihill, president of Delta Gamma, speculated that changes to the Common App could be linked to the rise in recruitment numbers.
“I think [the Common App] put UChicago more on the map, and more people know about the school now nationally rather than just a more focused group of people who have heard about it from other ways,” she said.
Mulvihill even conjectured that another sorority may be added to campus in a few years to absorb the increases in recruits, though Shipton said that the addition of another sorority in the near future was unlikely due to the lengthy application process.
“The process is so long, and the way the process is set up is to ensure healthy and sustainable growth of Greek life on campus,” she said. “So we would never ever want to bring on a group that, within a couple years, wasn’t able to get up to the same number of members as other groups…. If Greek life continues to expand, there could be another group on in eight to 10 years,” she added.
An equal number of first- and second-years made up the majority of the recruitment class, though several third-years rushed as well. Nass indicated that this trend might be because underclassmen that are looking for a good network of friends find Greek life attractive.
“I think that when you’re an upperclassman, you’ve found your niche…but for younger members, especially underclassmen, you’re still trying to find where you fit in, and Greek life seems like a quick way to expand your network, to get to know older members,” Nass said.
Shipton predicted that with the increase in sorority life on campus, Greek life would grow and fill more aspects of University life.
“Sororities were founded to be support groups for women while they were in college, and it’s about women supporting each other no matter what they’re involved in at the college—RSO groups, classes—so I think as sorority life expands, you’re going to see a lot more Greek life support at other UChicago student events.”
Editor’s note: News editor Sarah Manhardt is a member of Pi Beta Phi.