Hi! My name is Abby, and I am a freshman in college at Elon University. I decided to go through the formal recruitment process to join a sorority this year, despite the process looking very different due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am currently taking my classes from home, so I was thrilled to be able to still rush despite not actually being on campus.
So, what does recruitment look like in a pandemic?
The whole process occurred over two weekends: February 27-28 and March 6-7. On the first day, potential new members (PNMs) spoke to each of the school’s nine sororities for 25 minutes each. On the second day, PNMs spoke to up to six (depending on the mutual selection process) sororities for 35 minutes each. On the third day, PNMs spoke to up to two sororities for 45 minutes each. Then, the fourth day was bid day. We had 20-minute breaks between each Zoom session and breaks built-in throughout the day.
Overall, the experience was amazing. As someone who wasn’t entirely sure they wanted to go through the process, I am so glad I did. Yes, being online wasn’t ideal, but it was the best option for the time we are in. The school and sororities also did an excellent job of making things seem as normal as possible even though we were on Zoom.
Before we even got to day 1, we were given a brief overview by our pi chis, or recruitment counselors. During a meeting on the Thursday night before the big weekend, they gave us a quick rundown of what the process would look like.
They told us that each Zoom would be different depending on the organization. In most, you met with the whole group for a quick overview, then went into breakout rooms for a one-on-one with a current sister or with two sisters.
We also had dress codes each day, even though we were on Zoom. The first two days were cute, casual; it was suggested to wear something like a nice sweater or top. Preference day was cocktail attire, which was certainly weird to wear alone in my room, but gave me the confidence boost I needed on such an emotional day. Bid day was just whatever you were comfortable in, especially since most sororities had stations set up around campus for new members to come get t-shirts.
We used an app throughout the entire process. Panhellenic told us to download the PNM Companion app, which is where Zoom links were, where our schedules were, and where we could rank sororities at the end of each day.
The Friday night before day 1, we had “day 0.” Day 0 was where everyone went to a presentation by the Panhellenic president and a faculty member who worked with sorority/fraternity life. We also heard a guest speaker talk from Phired Up that night.
Day 1: Philanthropy
Then came Saturday. February 27. Day 1 of the recruitment process.
Day 1 started early. My pi chis scheduled a meeting with us at 7:45 a.m. to go over last-minute details and check-in. So naturally, I decided to wake up at 5:45 a.m. to get ready (makeup and all). Personally, this helped me through the process to feel more confident, although it definitely is not necessary.
My first round was at 8:30. I was nervous, but also super excited. I knew this would be a different experience than what was expected, but I also knew that each sorority worked incredibly hard to make it as smooth and fun as possible.
When I joined the first Zoom call, someone told us the link we used was not the actual link, so we had to join a different one. My stress levels definitely rose when I heard that (gotta love technology), but I joined the other one and sat in the waiting room listening to one of my favorite artists Aly and AJ to hype me up.
When the round began, the sorority president spoke to us about their philanthropy for about 5 minutes before sending us into breakout rooms. In my breakout room, I was alone. I started to stress out and texted my pi chi freaking out about why I was alone. Luckily, within two minutes, a sister came in and we had a lovely conversation until it was time to leave.
The rest of the rounds went smoothly, with breaks in between. We had a 20-minute break between each back-to-back round and had some rounds off.
At the end of the day, we met one-on-one with our pi chis to go over the day and get the code to rank sororities in the app.
Day 2: Sisterhood
The process on Day 2 was pretty similar. The only difference was that we had to wait to see how many sororities invited us back until right before rounds started. The day, though, was the same but shorter. We did Zooms, met with pi chis, then waited.
The week in between the two weekends was one of the longest weeks I’ve ever experienced. All week I was stressed because we wouldn’t find out who we were invited back to for preference day until that Saturday morning. I baked some creme brulee and went shopping to distract myself.
Day 3: Preference
But finally, Preference Day came! That morning we met with pi chis and waited anxiously for the schedules. The first part of the day was pretty similar to the other two, just with longer and with fewer rounds.
As soon as we finished our last round on day 3, we had to go to a Membership Recruitment Acceptance Binding Agreement (MRABA) signing Zoom room where they went over the contract with us. From there, we were given another link to a different Zoom where we would actually sign the MRABA.
In the second Zoom, we met one-on-one with a volunteer who walked us through the signing and gave us our final code to submit rankings through the app. Then we just had to wait for bid day.
Day 4: Bid Day
On the morning of bid day, we joined our recruitment group Zoom for the last time. My pi chis sent us into individual breakout rooms again, as we waited for them to come in one-by-one to show us our bid.
The wait felt like forever (it probably didn’t help that I kept second-guessing my outfit and changed five times before my pi chi even came in). Finally, she entered the breakout room and showed me my bid.
After my initial excitement, she gave me a Zoom link to our celebration Zoom for my new sorority, where they had breakout rooms of music, games, and just talking. I know other sororities did things differently, though.
I spent the rest of the day on Zoom celebrating my new bid. It was weird being fully remote, but I also feel like it was less overwhelming than an in-person bid day, according to things I’ve heard.
Overall, I am thrilled that I decided to go through recruitment during the pandemic. These next six weeks of learning about the sorority and getting closer to our sisters is a good way to spend my time at home. Plus, now when I go to campus next year, I have a whole group of sisters waiting.