A typical sorority primary recruitment involves a thousand or more girls being ushered from house to house, meeting people and being interviewed all day long for two full weekends from early in the morning into the night, one recruitment president said.
Instead, recruitment was entirely virtual, with a small gathering of new members in a classroom on the day they received their bids, said Julia Drozd, vice president of recruitment for Alpha Gamma Delta.
Drozd, a junior in the Krannert School of Management, said this year’s primary recruitment, while different, gave way to positive change as it focused more on the conversations between the potential new members and the sorority members recruiting them.
“No (potential new members) were told that they needed to dress nicer each round.You can’t really see how someone’s dressed,” Drozd said. “You’re not judging based off the house, or what snacks they may have provided, or any of the extra frills that can come with recruitment.”
These changes took pressure off the sorority members and the girls rushing, she said, since the potential new members were no longer walking across campus in heels or standing up all day for the two weekends that rush takes place.
To keep the process similar this year, the sororities were granted Zoom Business accounts by the Purdue Panhellenic Council, allowing sororities to host up to around 200 people on a call, said Kelsey Carnes, membership vice president of Alpha Xi Delta and junior in the College of Health and Human Sciences.
Both Alpha Gamma Delta and Alpha Xi Delta appointed technical chairs this year, who were tasked with overseeing the technological aspects of the new platform.
Drozd said the biggest challenge with the new platform was navigating the technology when participants experienced Wi-Fi issues in the house or when potential new members had issues in their dorms.
“Panhellenic built in a couple of makeup rounds for if the whole house was having issues and they needed to redo a round,” Drozd said, “or there was a girl that missed a round because of technical issues.”
Alpha Xi Delta had to figure out how all the members could use Zoom at one time, Carnes said.
“There are only 50 breakout rooms,” Carnes said. “So we were able to use about half the girls who live out of the house and then half who live in, so we were never overpowering the Wi-Fi at the house.”
Another difference to this year’s recruitment was the format of the first round, Drozd said. Typically the largest round, groups of new members would be introduced to all the sororities over the span of two days, visiting every house and speaking with members from each.
This year, all the sororities filmed videos showcasing their houses. The girls going through recruitment could watch each house’s video and rank them by their first impression of a house prior to talking to its members.
Interviews with potential new members were recorded a week before recruitment began. Each individual answered a list of questions from their recruitment guide, called a Gamma Chi. These videos were then sent to each house to view before the process began.
“It was days’ worth of video,” Drozd said. “So we ended up assigning a group of girls a list of videos that they needed to watch by the end of the week. I think each member in our house probably ended up watching around 40 videos per person.”
As far as numbers for this year’s recruitment, both reported about the same as in previous years.
Carnes said that Alpha Xi Delta gave out 40 bids to those it wanted to join the sorority at the end, about the same as a typical year.
Drozd said her sorority w approved by the University to hold a small gathering at the end for the new members to meet and receive gifts.
“Throughout the rest of the week we had virtual events where they played different games through Zoom,” she said, making the standard bid day an ongoing event.
The consensus from both recruitment leaders was that this change had worked out well, given the circumstances. Neither felt like much was lost through the virtual platform.
“It’s more natural in the sense that the girls going through recruitment don’t have all these people chanting at them, and it’s kind of intimidating with stuff like that,” Carnes said. “So I think it was a lot more welcoming, almost.”
Drozd also noted that the focus on the conversation improved this year’s recruitment.
“The most important part when joining a sorority is to find people that you’re going to connect with and be able to be close to for years to come and beyond college,” Drozd said. “So I think it really drew back a curtain on the most important aspect of recruitment.”