Last weekend was Panhellenic Formal Recruitment, and I was one of the recruitment counselors, or “Rho Gammas.” Rho Gammas disaffiliate from their chapters to be unbiased guides or shoulders to lean on for the potential new members (PNMs) during the Formal Recruitment process.
As someone who went through Formal Recruitment twice (check out my article on going through Recruitment as an upperclassman), I felt called to apply for the position. I’d been there, done that, and I’d felt all the emotions: hurt, joy, confusion, sadness, etc.
Like most other Rho Gammas this year, I’m also your classic Enneagram Two, “The Helper.” Those who know me know I will give up anything and everything to serve and support those around me. I’m encouraging and extremely empathetic. I recognize others’ potential and try to help them see it too; I’m everyone’s personal hype man. While those traits made me a great fit for the position, they also made me extremely invested in the process and the experiences of my PNMs.
When I applied for the position at the end of March, I had no idea that the pandemic would last this long. At the beginning of July, I was still hopeful that Recruitment would be hybrid, and I would get to meet my PNMs in person. However, with the state of the country, and especially LA County, Pepperdine transitioned into Zoom University again, and Recruitment had to go completely virtual. It was heartbreaking. There is nothing I wanted more than to be able to give my PNMs big hugs and physically be there for them, especially for those who needed comforting. But, instead, I was sitting in a makeshift office in my childhood home, talking to them through my computer screen.
We had our fair share of struggles and frustration when it came to technology. Virtual Recruitment, especially in the middle of a heatwave, consisted of power outages, downed wifi routers, mixed up Zoom links, struggles with accessing the ICS system for inputting selections, and more. I’ll spare you the details, but as a direct result of being virtual, one night even went 3+ hours longer than expected; it was brutal. That day I was on Zoom for 11 hours straight.
With Zoom calls serving as our only meeting space, the time we spent getting to know our PNMs was drastically decreased. On-campus, we would’ve all been hanging out in our meeting space between parties, laughing, and getting to know each other better. But with everything being on Zoom, PNMs didn’t need to stay nearby us on campus, and almost nobody stuck around. It makes sense; I probably would’ve done the same thing in their position. But as a Rho Gamma who signed up for the job with an expectation of human connection, it was just another sad reminder that my Senior year will be as atypical as it can get.
With Recruitment going virtual, we Rho Gammas no longer got to learn and sing all the sororities’ songs as the PNMs entered the parties, which disappointed the camp-song-loving girl inside me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad we didn’t attempt it over Zoom--that would’ve been a disaster--but it doesn’t take away from the disappointment I felt. Also, nothing can compare to the energy and excitement of a Bid Day/Night Rho Gamma reveal. I dreamt of singing all the songs in Firestone Fieldhouse, dancing crazy, finally unzipping my Rho Gamma sweatshirt to reveal my sorority’s shirt underneath, and running home to my sisters in front of all the new members. I don’t know a single Rho Gamma who wasn’t sad we didn’t get to do that. Instead, we had a slideshow reveal on a massive Zoom call. But, my Rho Gamma group decided to make the most of the situation and personally made a TikTok reveal for our PNMs.
We truly had such a great group of girls. Though I had a fair share of complications and frustrations, words cannot describe how grateful I am for the breakout rooms function and modern technology; in these small breakout groups and one-on-one conversations, connections were built. They were where I was able to be that helpful shoulder and listening ear. They were where I was able to get a sense of who my PNMs were as people. They were where making selections sometimes turned into 20-minute off-topic conversations. They were where I would get to know some of my future sorority sisters.
Though I was frustrated, stressed, and disappointed at times, I am so incredibly grateful to have been a Rho Gamma, even if it was just virtually. For years I had imagined myself as a recruitment counselor, even before I officially joined a sorority. Of course, I wish that we had been in person; I could’ve given them the biggest hugs and gotten to know them better, or even experienced the cheesy bits like singing songs and doing the Rho Gamma reveal. But, I can’t change the past, and I’m grateful for the experience I was given and the friendships I’ve made out of it.