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'You really have to trust the process': Freshmen reflect on sorority recruitment



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IU students line up outside of Kappa Delta for Panhellenic recruitment Jan. 4. Kappa Delta is located on 1005 N. Jordan Ave. Alex Deryn Buy Photos

Tiring. 

That was the first word that came to mind when freshman Kelsey Carter thought about her day.

She had been up since about 7 a.m. doing her hair and makeup, running all over campus, trying to catch buses, trying to make relationships with as many women as possible.

A presentation last Wednesday marked the beginning of this year’s Panhellenic sorority recruitment process. Each year, freshmen and sophomore women at IU, called potential new members or PNMs, spend the beginning of the semester visiting the 22 chapters in the National Panhellenic Conference and getting a feel for a which one they might like to join.

About 18 percent of IU students are in a sorority or fraternity, according to the Office of Admissions website.

Panhellenic recruitment runs in four rounds over two weekends. 

The PNMs visited all 22 houses Jan. 3-4. Then, the PNMs and sororities ranked each other. During the next round Jan. 4-5, PNMs visited up to 16 chapters, which were determined by those rankings.

This process will repeat for two more rounds next weekend, with PNMs visiting up to nine chapters Friday and Saturday and up to two chapters Sunday. PNMs will get an invitation to join a chapter, or a bid, Jan. 15.

So far, at the end of the second round, things were running smoothly, Carter said. 

Still, she said she was tired after visiting houses for four days in a row. 

“You really have to trust the process,” Carter said.

She walked away from the Delta Zeta house, where a group of women were inside cheering and banging on the upstairs window with their forearms, down the sidewalk toward Alpha Omicron Pi.

***

Freshman Sidney Smith stood on the sidewalk outside the Alpha Omicron Pi house and waited for her friend to catch up.

“It’s been a long day,” she said, changing out of her purple high heels and into a pair of sneakers. “But I’m excited to get to know everyone.”

Smith, an exercise science major, said she is rushing in part because it is an easy way to get involved on campus. That, and many of her friends had rushed and enjoyed it.

“I’ve never heard anything bad about it,” Smith said.

She weaved through the crowd across from the Sigma Delta Tau house, where a group of women in animal onesies danced to “7/11” by Beyonce near the front door. 

This group of women were Rho Gammas, women who disaffiliate from their chapter for a few weeks to mentor PNMs through the recruitment process. During the day, they dress up in fun costumes and play music to help keep up morale. But before and after each round, they help the PNMs rank their sororities and give them their list of sororities to attend for each round.

The clock was ticking – Smith only had about 20 minutes to get to the next house.

***

Freshman Breana Davis had just gotten back to her dorm room in Teter Quad to take a break from the activities.

Unlike Smith, Davis did not know anyone involved in greek life, so she said the whole process was unfamiliar.

At each sorority, members of the chapter and PNMs talk, trying to get to know each other and see if they would fit in together. 

Davis loved being asked, “What are you passionate about?” 

She knew her answer right away.

“I want to help kids with intellectual disabilities,” the psychology major said. “I want to help them read and write and be independent.”

Davis was having an ideal experience so far, she said, except for one thing: the buses.

Since there is limited time to get from one house to another, many choose to take the designated recruitment buses. But Davis said the women who are rushing are prohibited from getting on a bus without a recruitment guide or Rho Gamma.

“If there’s not a Rho Gamma around, you kind of just have to desperately run around and look around for one,” she said.

The women won’t find out until Jan. 15 if they were placed in their preferred Panhellenic sorority — or if they got a bid at all. But Davis is only a little nervous, she said. In the end, she said she just wants to find a group of friends to accompany her to McDonald’s at 2 a.m.

“I think as long as you keep an open mind, then everything will be okay,” she said.

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