To Be Honest . . . with Caitlin Troutman

To be honest…I think there’s a problem with the sorority recruitment process. There are aspects of it that I like, namely meeting new people and eating chocolate covered strawberries, but overall it has been a frustrating experience. Going through recruitment last year, I was nervous about whether or not the sorority members would like me and if I was wearing the right clothes. This year, on the other side of things, I was concerned about whether the potential new members would like me and if I was wearing the right clothes. To make things worse, I was also worried about whether I would hurt another person’s feelings. Unfortunately, I think that fear was realized.

A lot goes into the recruitment process, but a lot gets left out of it as well. When recruitment week begins, there aren’t many first years who already know sorority members well and have made lasting impressions. Consequently, everyone, including the sorority members and the potential new members, are forced to make small talk and try to figure out whether or not a sorority is right for them. This means everything goes into first impressions. We give feedback based on these impressions, and the feedback goes into a database. Then a computer program creates a list that splits the number of girls by four, one for each sorority. The girls in the sorority do not actually know who will be coming back each night after the list has been created in the computer; it’s as much as a surprise to us as it is to the potential new members.

On paper this process makes sense. Not everyone clicks with every group and vice versa. It is very true that you may be happier as a Beta than you would be as a Sigma, and recruitment helps you figure that out. But, in an attempt to give chapters even numbers and to make sure that everyone gets a bid (an idea that I totally support), there is a cut off, which means that someone who would be happier in Beta and who Beta also wants as a member may get a bid from Sigma.

I was elated when we got our new members. They are fantastic people and, honestly, they are way too cool for me. But there were some people whom I know truly wanted to join a certain chapter and the chapter also wanted them as members. However, because of the way the system is set up and the limited number of spots available, she did not get to join that chapter. If that happened to you, I really hope that you don’t feel like you did anything wrong.

In the end it’s a numbers game, and that sucks because numbers can’t account for your sense of humor or how much you love animals or the fact that you weren’t feeling well during one night of recruitment. To an extent it does reflect how well you may have clicked with someone on a certain night, but it’s not a complete picture.

Greek life has been great for me. I’ve found a family in a group of women who have the same values that I have and have promised to share pieces of their lives with me. I am truly happier in a sorority than I was before I joined. But recruitment reduces Greek life to its stereotypically negative qualities. I don’t have a solution; I really don’t know a better way to do things. I just wanted to let everyone know that a bid card does not mean you’re a reject or that you’re better than anyone else.

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