Sorority presidents sent an email to members of their respective houses on Sunday evening announcing changes made to this year’s winter recruitment cycle. These changes include replacing the choreographed song-and-dance presentations that traditionally follow recruitment parties with financial aid presentations and anonymous question-and-answer sessions, as well as relaxing dress code expectations.
The statement, backed by the presidents of all eight Panhellenic Council sororities and their membership recruitment officers, followed a “call to action” sent to campus via email on Thursday, in which five of Panhell’s nine executives declared they would abstain from winter recruitment. Later that night, sorority presidents and Panhell executives voted to proceed with recruitment, which will begin on Tuesday.
Potential new members are now encouraged to attend first- and second-round recruitment parties in outfits they would wear to class. On preference night, potential new members may choose to wear a dress — as many did in previous recruitment cycles — but the statement emphasized that this is not required.
All first-round parties will be followed by presentations on the financial costs of Greek life, including explanations about dues and scholarship opportunities.
All second-round parties will end with question-and-answer sessions led by members of each sorority in response to anonymous questions submitted online by returning potential new members.
“Though we recognize that these are all short-term fixes,” the statement read, “we hope that the collective desire for change will continue to propel us towards creating a healthy system that is open to and beneficial for every woman at Dartmouth College.”
Several female members of the Class of 2016, who spoke anonymously due to their intent to participate in recruitment, said they welcomed these changes and were glad to hear that sorority presidents were thinking about the issues brought up in Thursday’s “call to action” email.
Other students interviewed said that although the suggestions showed promise, they did not feel that changes made by individual sororities could create meaningful change.
The sorority presidents’ statement acknowledged that changes to this term’s recruitment process are short-term remedies and should be followed by more extensive reforms.
“Recognizing that we operate in an imperfect system, we are dedicated to committing our full efforts to making long-term changes to the recruitment process, including accessibility, and to the culture of the sorority experience as a whole at Dartmouth,” the statement read.
Panhell president Eliana Piper ’14 and vice presidents Michelle Khare ’14 and Jennifer Gargano ’14 expressed their approval of the changes implemented to the sorority recruitment process.
Piper said that this term’s reformed recruitment process is a small but “extremely important step in the right direction,” and that she looks forward to collaborating with sorority presidents in the future.
“Since it is easy to become complacent after implementing small changes, we urge affiliated women to keep Panhellenic Council and their presidents accountable to productive action,” Piper said in an emailed statement.
Crystal Ye ’14, a member of Sigma Delta sorority, said she thought the changes could be valuable if executed properly.
“I don’t think people talk about classism enough at Dartmouth, but that’s a really significant part of why people think the Greek system is so exclusive,” Ye said. “When I went through rush, people really glossed over how much dues actually cost.”
Several affiliated women said that they were glad that the song-and-dance routines would no longer be included in the recruitment process.
“I can name very few people who genuinely enjoy putting on a stupid choreography and dance for [potential new members],” Ye said. “I think it’s selling a really stupid part of the house. And everyone does it because it’s custom, but I don’t think it adds any value to the rush process.”
Er Li Peng ’16, who plans to participate in recruitment for the first time this winter, said she felt the songs could have brought levity to an otherwise stressful situation, comparing the tradition to the flair-filled songs performed as part of Dartmouth Outing Club’s First-Year Trips.
Peng added that, instead of discussing financial aid during parties, women should be given more information prior to deciding whether to participate in recruitment.
Alpha Pi Omega sorority president Christina Goodson ’14 said she thinks the changes outlined in the statement would make recruitment more inclusive and less stressful for women. Alpha Pi Omega is not a member of Panhell and does not participate in its winter recruitment process.
The presidents of Alpha Phi, Alpha Xi Delta, Delta Delta Delta, Epsilon Kappa Theta, Kappa Delta, Kappa Delta Epsilon, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Sigma Delt sororities did not respond to requests for comment.