With changes, Panhell aims to increase equity and transparency in rush

Every potential new member will get called back to four houses in the second round of sorority recruitment this fall, one in a series of changes announced by the Panhellenic Council. If a potential new member is not called back to four different houses, she will be randomly assigned to additional houses to fill up the set of four.

Other changes include a Blackboard website that will centralize information and smaller budgets for houses.

The Blackboard site will explain the mechanics of recruitment, including how houses evaluate their potential new members and how the computer system that matches sorority and potential new member preferences works.

“I’m sure I can speak for many women when I say this — we all felt particularly confused by the process and we’re really hoping to demystify it, essentially,” Panhell president Rachel Funk ’15 said. “I think there are a lot of negative ideas about what actually happens. Aspects of it aren’t as bad as people think.”

Panhell vice president of public relations Jessica Ke ’15 said training for recruitment counselors — affiliated women who guide potential new members through recruitment without revealing their sorority affiliation — will include technical training and possibly facilitations by the Office of Pluralism and Leadership. This change will help standardize the information given to potential new members, Ke said.

Rho Chis will also patrol parties at each house to discourage potential new members from engaging in rude or disrespectful behavior.

Kathleen Wahl ’15, a Panhell recruitment chair, said that improving accountability might prove the most difficult change to implement, noting complaints that potential new members and sorority members have occasionally been rude to each other.

Reducing the cost of recruitment is another goal of the new initiatives. Each house currently receives a $1,700 budget for recruitment.

Sororities will not provide food during the first two rounds of recruitment to reduce costs, and Panhell will instead offer snacks between houses. The budget for each house’s preference night will now be based on the number of potential new members attending.

Panhell will encourage those houses to use their remaining funds for scholarships or freshman outreach.

To facilitate smaller, more in-depth conversations, houses will not perform song-and-dance routines and members will not wear costumes during the second round of recruitment, when women will instead wear clothes with their sorority’s letters on them.

The decision of five Panhell executives to abstain from winter recruitment last term sparked this term’s changes, Funk said.

“We see this is an incredible time for change on this campus,” Funk said, noting College President Phil Hanlon’s attempts to address problems of exclusivity, binge drinking and sexual assault. “We saw the recruitment process as a problem contributing to exclusivity on campus, and so these changes are part of answering his call to action.”

Sigma Delta sorority president Annie Gardner ’15 said she is most excited about the potential depth offered by longer round two parties. She noted, however, that the extra engagement and awareness the change requires may make it difficult.

Gardner said she believes the recruitment process is moving in the right direction.

“I really value the inclusivity of the concept that if you go through rush, then you’ll end up in a sorority if you stick it through,” Gardner said. “I think that’s awesome. This protects that while increasing a PNM’s agency.”

Isabella Caruso ’17 said that although she does not intend to rush, changes to the process to make it more inclusive are promising.

Koryn Ternes ’16 and Siobhan Hengemuhle ’15, both affiliated women, said another changes that could improve rush would be providing more events before rush so that women would have the opportunity to spend time in houses before committing, especially if they miss pre-rush events.

Representatives of other Panhellenic sororities could not be reached for comment by press time.

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