Formal Recruitment draws hundreds of Flyer women to rush sororities

 Women in Theta Phi Alpha kicked off Formal Recruitment at the end of January on campus. Photo courtesy of Theta Phi Alpha President Clare Ove.

Alexandra DiMarco | Contributing Writer.

How does one describe a weekend so spectacularly stimulating while at the same time completely exhausting? The ladies who decided to participate in recruitment Jan. 28 to30 have a good idea. 

Early in the spring semester of each school year, students at the University of Dayton interested in joining a sorority have the opportunity to participate in Formal Recruitment hosted by the College Panhellenic Council at the Dayton Convention Center. Women have the opportunity to join seven different sororities: Alpha Phi, Chi Omega, Kappa Delta, Pi Beta Phi, Sigma Kappa, Theta Phi Alpha and Zeta Tau Alpha. 

Around 300 women signed up to participate, though by the end of the weekend many dropped out with reasoning ranging from bitter disappointment to pure exhaustion. Senior Lindsey Wilcoxen, Theta Phi Alpha’s recruitment chair, said that despite the substantial amount of groundwork that goes into preparing for recruitment, it’s a good experience altogether. 

“Recruitment overall is a fun way to bond more with your sisters, and to celebrate your sisterhood and what makes you unique,” Wilcoxen said. “In a way, it also brings together all the chapters since we all go through the same thing that weekend.  

“I spent a lot of time figuring out how to use the different websites and databases that are required for recruitment along with planning and teaching the chapter so that they are ready and comfortable for formal.”

Formal Recruitment consists of three rounds stretched over four short days. The sisterhood round occurs over Thursday and Friday and involves a lot of introductions and getting an impression of all the different sororities, as Potential New Members visit each chapter. The philanthropy round happens all day Saturday and focuses on each chapter’s service and community work. For preference round, PNMs return to only one or two chapters, and the day is meant to help the PNM discern where she belongs and involves deeper conversations between the women. In order to get called to see a sorority again, both the PNM and the sorority must mutually rank each other.

First-year Audrey MacVicar, new member of sorority Sigma Kappa, recounted her initial anxiety regarding the mutual selection, but decided it ultimately was necessary in order to know whether a connection was genuine or not.

“I wish people didn’t go in with preconceived notions,” MacVicar said. “It’s okay to like someone you don’t expect. The way I knew where I belonged was because it felt like I was having a conversation with a friend. I didn’t care about what people told me about certain sororities, but I know a lot of people did, and that just annoyed me.”

Theta Phi booth during formal recruitment. Photo provided.

With the turn of the new semester, junior Emma Veeneman has been elected to take over Wilcoxen’s role as recruitment chair. 

“Before you even take over the position for next year, you’re already starting to think about it,” Veeneman said. “You have to start months in advance to have enough time to get everything approved, practice with your chapter, advertise for your chapter beforehand and purchase everything you’ll need like decorations.”

The process was quite different from the Zoom Formal Recruitment that took place in January 2021.

“People had to learn how to have face to face conversations again, focus on body language, and move around a room,” Wilcoxen said. “Everything that we had learned from Zoom recruitment changed, and it was a lot of teaching things that either we hadn’t done in two years, or in my co-recruitment chair’s case, never at all.”

Sophomore Clara Beatty went through formal recruitment in 2021 and recognized how difficult the process was online.

“I felt like it was really hard to get a grasp of the different chapters, and I didn’t get to talk to that many people,” Beatty said. “I dropped [out] in the last round, but I honestly don’t feel like I’ve missed out on any opportunities by not participating in Greek life.”

Beatty’s roommate, sophomore Bess Lehman, agreed.

“I didn’t go through recruitment because I don’t think it’s a big deal at Dayton,” said Lehman. “I have many friends in sororities, though. I’ve heard some people say they love it and some people say they don’t. I have friends that complain about how big of a time commitment it is.”

Many other universities across the country are finding lower numbers of students signing up for Greek life. Although the number of PNMs at UD has been constant for the past few years, Wilcoxen said that numbers used to be higher and that Greek life may be changing.

“At UD and some other universities, there is less of an emphasis on fitting some kind of sorority mold and more of a desire to just meet people,” Wilcoxen said. “I’m not exactly sure how, but I definitely feel like people’s view of Greek life is not necessarily dying, but rather shifting.”

Greek life seems to be content in its place as a part of UD’s campus life. Making up about 10% of campus, only a small portion of students participate in fraternity or sorority organizations, but those involved value their relationships enough to put themselves through the lengthy experience of Formal Recruitment with a smile on their mask-covered face.

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