Sorority numbers drop by one-third

The number of female students who accepted bids to join a sorority dropped by more than 100 this year. Some sorority leaders attributed the decrease to a new computer software program that tries to match up students with the groups they want to pledge.

Recruitment for GW’s eight sororities ended Saturday with 215 girls accepting bids in comparison to last year’s record high of 320, said Kelly McLaughlin, the vice president for recruitment for the Panhellenic Council. The Panhellenic Council is the governing body for sororities.

GW was one of several universities to take part in a pilot computer program that matches up prospective members with the sororities they want to pledge, Student Activities Center Director Tim Miller said. Next year, sororities nationwide will use the program, which some GW students said is flawed.

Miller said the software helped set the quota for the number of girls each sorority can give bids to. The Panhellenic Council determines this quota each year by dividing “the total number of women coming through” the final night of rush events “by the number of (sorority) chapters” at GW, said junior Emily Aaronson, president of Delta Gamma. This fall’s quota was 29 compared to last year’s 38.

Some sorority leaders said the computer program mistakenly rejected students who they were considering taking.

One night when the “computer system messed up, girls didn’t get called back to houses that wanted them,” said Katie Barrios, president of Alpha Delta Pi.

It seemed “a lot more girls” were “dropping out as the week went on” when they did not get called back to the sororities of their choice because of computer problems, said Tess Stovall, president of Phi Sigma Sigma.

She added that the “new computer system will turn out to be a really good change for sorority recruitment” in the future.

Aaronson said recruitment “went really well,” despite the software that she said might have caused recruitment numbers to be significantly lower than last year. Aaronson described the computer system as “very different” from last year’s system.

Lindsay Roshkind, president of Sigma Kappa, said the software was intended to decrease the amount of “paperwork” involved in recruitment.

Miller said he was aware of some concerns with the software during recruitment.

“I think because it was new, there were a lot of concerns,” Miller said.

Miller added that the “vast majority” of the sororities’ advisors “agreed that they were comfortable with how rush ended.” The advisors are alumnae of each sorority who accompany the groups throughout the recruitment process.

Miller did not attribute the decrease in the number of bids to the software, but rather to a decrease in the number of women initially interested in participating in Greek-letter life. About 100 fewer women registered to participate in recruitment compared to last year.

“The decreased number is just that there weren’t as many people who came through recruitment,” Miller said.

He stressed that there were only 10 women who did not receive any bids, compared to 36 last year. Miller said the new software helped to ensure that more women received bids.

“That to me is the most important number,” Miller said.

He added that the percentage of women invited back for each of the rounds did not change and that it was a “great chance” for GW to become accustomed to the software before all colleges begin using it next year.

At least three sororities, Delta Gamma, Sigma Kappa and Alpha Delta Pi, met their quotas. Phi Sigma Sigma came close to quota, with 23 new members this year, and may be the only sorority whose pledge class increased from last fall.

Barrios, of Alpha Delta Pi, said “the end result” of recruitment “was well worth the effort.” She said the members of her sorority were always “excited” at the quality of girls who were invited back each night.

Aaronson agreed, describing Delta Gamma’s pledge class as “incredible.”

-Caitlin Carroll contributed to this report.

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