The GW Panhellenic Council voted last month to increase chapter quotas for sororities on campus, meaning four chapters will hold spring recruitment this semester, even as the Greek-life community finds itself under a cloud of hazing charges and investigations.
The council voted to raise chapter totals from 114 to 130 in accordance with the National Panhellenic Conference, which requires that quotas be raised depending on the rate of Greek-life community growth, Panhellenic Council President Sara Fischer said.
Raising quotas opens up more spots for prospective members to join Greek life, she said.
Interest in Greek life at GW has been increasing in recent years, with a record 618 women participating in sorority recruitment this fall – a more than 20 percent increase over the past three years.
Fischer, who is also a Hatchet cartoonist, said four chapters will be recruiting this semester in an attempt to boost their numbers to the required amount of women, because they are currently below the new quota. The presidents of Alpha Phi, Phi Sigma Sigma and Pi Beta Phi each said they would be holding spring recruitments.
“The recent popularity of Greek life, specifically for the Panhellenic Association, has made it nearly impossible for our organization to continue to grow without… expanding our quota system,” Fischer said.
Through a private, invitation-only process called Continuous Open Bidding, chapters will give out bids, or invitations to join a sorority, to girls interested in joining only that particular chapter. This differs from the fall’s formal recruitment, where women interested in joining a sorority must go to parties for each sorority on campus, and rank chapters in order of preference.
All chapter presidents contacted said they were supportive of the quota increase.
Liz Sieck, president of Pi Beta Phi, said she was excited about the the prospect of spring recruitment.
“Greek life on campus contributes so much to the GW community and it will allow us to bring more women in and have more of a presence on GW’s campus,” Sieck said.
She said spring recruitment is more laid back and allows for prospective members to get to know the chapter much better than they would during the fall.
“Most involve a couple parties that are a little more casual, there’s more talk one-on-one,” she said. “I think everyone’s really for it, we get new sisters in the spring.”
Molly Finer, president of Alpha Epsilon Phi, also said her chapter is happy about the growth of Greek life, even though her sorority isn’t participating in spring recruitment.
“We support all of the other chapters in their efforts to fill the new quota and will be working towards maintaining the high standard ourselves,” Finer said.
Not all members of Greek life are pleased with the spring recruitment, however. One member of a sorority, who asked to remain anonymous because she is not authorized to speak for her chapter, said she feels like the Panhellenic Council “thrust it upon the community.”
“I feel like Panhel shouldn’t up quota without talking to every sorority,” she said.
Most of the objections she said she’s heard from other members are about the prospect of going through the recruitment process twice in one year.
“Recruitment is time-consuming and it’s really fun at the end, but it takes away from your work,” she said. “It’s kind of nice to have a break.”
The Panhellenic Council also voted last week to create a committee to look into the possibility of bringing another sorority to campus, another potential strain on Greek life in the midst of the hazing controversy.
The committee, which does not yet have any members on it, will include one representative from each chapter, Fischer said.
The possibility of another chapter would also increase potential members’ chances of matching with a sorority, Fischer said.
“Not only are we excited about our progress and growth as a whole, but we are looking forward to exploring our options regarding extension and hopefully finding a better solution for being able to accommodate the large number of women who are interested in joining the Greek community,” Fischer said.
Fischer said the committee will report its findings April 4, but stressed that bringing a new chapter to campus is not definite, and depends on other chapters’ capacity to colonize at GW – generally a year-long process.
The last chapter to colonize at GW was Chi Omega in 2007, and is now one of the larger sororities on campus.
Greek Life Director Christina Witkowicki did not return requests for comment.