Though spring hasn’t exactly sprung in State College, Penn State’s Panhellenic Council has already completed its first formal spring recruitment cycle.
As part of new regulations implemented in Greek life after Tim Piazza’s death, fraternities and sororities could not recruit their primary new member demographic this fall: first-semester freshmen. Instead, the organizations moved their formal recruitment — traditionally held in the fall — to the beginning of the spring semester.
Now with Bid Day far behind them, the Panhellenic Council’s executive board members have had the chance to reflect on their first formal spring recruitment cycle and assess the successes and challenges they experienced in the process.
Despite the controversial climate surrounding Greek life on campus, a total of 1,595 women registered to participate in recruitment this year. This initial number remained consistent with previous formal recruitments and followed the largest formal recruitment Panehellenic had experienced in the fall of 2016. Although the initial registration number was more than 1,500, only 1,355 women were still registered at the start of open houses.
As with any change, there are bound to be growing pains, and this certainly rang true for the 22 Panhellenic chapters that participate in formal recruitment. Challenges included new officer elections and transitions, members going abroad, and disaffiliations. Panhellenic President Genevieve Fishman spoke about how the chapters adapted.
“Considering the drastic change from fall to spring recruitment, I think that chapters responded fairly well,” Fishman said. “Most chapters received national support from their individual organizations to adjust to the change. Panhellenic was committed to assisting every chapter to make this transition easier as well.”
This was also the first year that Pi Chi’s were allowed to continue to affiliate with their chapters during the recruitment process. The controversial announcement was made in October after it was suggested at the Panhellenic Conference in Indiana last February. The decision was made to allow potential new members (PNMs) to focus solely on the recruitment process, rather than the affiliation on their Pi Chi.
“Pi Chis being disaffiliated did not contribute much change to the recruitment process,” Fishman said. “With Pi Chis being able to disclose this information, it made the recruitment process more about the PNMs. Pi Chis are not marketing or selling their own sorority, making it easier for the PNMs to focus on finding their own home.”
Although the Panhellenic Council was satisfied with the outcome of its first spring recruitment, it is naive to assume there won’t be adjustments made for the upcoming year. Fishman spoke specifically about the challenges they faced and the improvements the executive board hopes to make before next year’s formal recruitment cycle begins.
“We are planning to look for a more suitable bid day location, to train and educate Pi Chis more, and ultimately, to keep recruitment as fun and successful as can be,” Fishman said.
Bid Day, which normally is held at Old Main lawn, was forced to move inside to the HUB due to the season change. Panhel tried to accommodate all the current and new members into Alumni Hall, but it was noticeable how overcrowded and overheated the room quickly became. Panhel’s executive board is already looking into alternate venues for next year’s Bid Day.
Even with the plethora of changes that occurred, Panhel’s executive board felt the first spring recruitment was a resounding success, with 987 women receiving bids and finding their respective homes in the Panhellenic community. Equipped with more experience and insight, Panhellenic is looking forward to recreating the process next spring semester.