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UMD PHA Moves Start of Primary Recruitment to Before Start of Spring Classes

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Maryland chapter.

For five years, the Panhellenic Association has attempted to move recruitment to begin earlier and this year, they were able to do so.

Before this change, recruitment happened during the first two weekends of the spring semester to help potential new members (PNMs) find their future sorority. It now starts on Jan. 20, four days before spring classes begin, with PNM Orientation at 5 p.m.

Emma Taylor, the vice president of recruitment, says that the change is a long time coming. The previous vice president of recruitment mentioned that the University of Maryland Panhellenic Association has been trying to move recruitment to before classes for almost five years, but the university never went for it.

“I was like ‘What’s one more year to try it?’” Taylor said. “So I met a lot with advisors and a lot of people within the university and university officials to talk about it.”

Moving recruitment meant meeting with the Department of Residence Life and Department of Dining Services for early move-in for on-campus residents and meeting with the Department of Fraternity and Sorority Life. In addition, each chapter was consulted.

The main reason for the change was the difficulty of balancing schoolwork and recruitment. 

“Having recruited once my sophomore year and being on the logistical side with panhellenic my junior year, I saw that people had some issues with the scheduling of it on both the chapter and the potential new member end,” said Piper Jackson, the current president of the Panhellenic Association.

While Taylor’s experience as a PNM was slightly different than it will be this year, as hers was virtual in 2021 due to COVID-19, she recalls struggling to balance school work with recruitment. 

“You were completely exhausted,” said Taylor. “Mentally, physically, even emotionally because some of the conversations you’re having are very deep and personal, and then having to start working on your assignments for upcoming exams and projects was very hard.”

Jackson was in the same situation as Taylor in 2021. 

“It is socially and mentally exhausting to talk and talk about yourself for that long,” said Jackson, citing that academic work served as a break. 

Other schools have delayed recruitment that begins before classes start. In some cases, they have a participation rate nearly double that of UMD. Schools such as George Washington University, which has a 25% participation rate in Greek Life, and Miami University (OH), which has a 33% participation rate, begin recruitment before classes begin.  

Raising participation rates is something that Taylor is focused on this year. Last year at UMD, the Panhellenic Association saw a 41% drop in participation in recruitment. However, Taylor is confident that this year will return to the numbers seen in 2022.

“I met with Indiana University, Pennsylvania State University, and Northwestern, and they all were saying how their greek life is going up and I asked them how  and they told me and I was like, ‘that’s what we’re gonna do too,’” said Taylor. 

The association has relied on bus and video advertisements as well as events to market membership this year. 

The earlier date could also help increase participation, given that it removes the stress of balancing work and the draining recruitment process for PNMs. 

 “We have a large demographic of education majors who have to teach on weekdays and that can be challenging for them when recruitment goes right from their 40-hour work week into a full weekend of recruitment,” said Jackson.

Jackson and Taylor have advice for those interested in recruitment or those who have already registered. 

“Before bid day, or those days in between, I will say, relax, try not to think about recruitment and just kinda recharge,” said Taylor.

“Be as open minded as possible,” said Jackson.
To register for recruitment or to view the event schedule, visit the Panhellenic website here.

Abigail Roedersheimer is from Laguna Beach, California and is in her freshman year at the University of Maryland College Park. She is majoring in Journalism at the Philip Merrill College of Journalism, and hopes to double major in Public Policy. During her senior year of high school, she was the News Editor for her school paper, The Brush and Palette and also interned for her school district's director of communications, where she assisted in producing content and writing press releases. She also attended the Boston University Summer Journalism Program in 2022. Outside of school, Abigail enjoys horseback riding, baking, and watching movies. She looks forward to her future with HerCampus Maryland.