Panhellenic recruitment turnout shrinks

Correction appended

The Panhellenic community saw a 15 percent dip in recruitment turnout this year, after its population more than doubled in the last decade.

A total of 610 women went through recruitment this year, 100 fewer than the previous year – a decline Panhellenic leaders say means that the involvement is leveling off after several years of unusually large increases.

The chapters’ pledge classes, which will be decided Monday, will likely be smaller than last year’s average size of 50 people. But Valerie Berg, vice president of recruitment for the Panhellenic Association, said she is not concerned about the Panhellenic Association’s future growth.

“[We’re] back to normal. I think 2010 and 2011 was kind of a big bubble, and it really maxed out our capacity,” Berg said.

Last year, a record-breaking 715 women signed up for recruitment, and more than 500 accepted bids.

She said the Panhellenic Association struggled last year to handle the number of women interested in Greek life, and worried about fire code violations during recruitment and the “overwhelming” size of pledge classes.

Greek life director Christina Witkowicki also said she was not concerned about the decline in interest, and pointed out that some girls may have opted out of general recruitment to join Kappa Delta, which will colonize at GW this year and hold a separate pledge process next weekend.

“We always see ebbs and flows, especially during a year where a new organization is starting,” Witkowicki said.

This fall, Kappa Delta will try to recruit 130 new members, catching up in size to most chapters. Women who want to join Kappa Delta did not register for general recruitment.

Marta Cofone, president of the Panhellenic Association, said she did not think Kappa Delta’s arrival on campus affected general recruitment numbers, because new chapters typically attract upperclassmen, and established chapters saw a large number of sophomores.

About a quarter of potential new members this year are sophomores, up from about 20 percent in past years.

Cofone added that this year’s recruitment held a high retention rate – about 94 percent compared to last year’s 79 percent.

Bid quotas, which are selected on the last night of recruitment, would not dramatically shrink, she said. Chapters that fail to meet quota sometimes charge their members more in dues and look to recruit more women in the spring.

In addition to seeing less interest, the Panhellenic Association is also weathering an $8,000 funding cut from the Student Association.

Last year, the umbrella organization received $32,500, but SA Finance Committee chair Alex Mizenko said he thought the Panhellenic Association needed to use its money more efficiently.

“One big issue is that bills come to [the Center for Student Engagement] at the end of the year, and someone has to pay the bill whether or not the spending was approved. Panhel, and all orgs, just need to be cognizant of their spending. But we can’t keep funding orgs at the same level if they don’t spend their money properly,” Mizenko said in an email.

Even after appealing for more funds, the Panhellenic Association’s final sum held at $25,000, matching the amount that the Interfraternity Council receives.

Panhellenic recruitment began Friday and will end Tuesday.

This article was updated Oct. 9, 2012 to reflect the following:

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that chapters that do not fill their quota charge their members higher dues and try to recruit more members in the spring. This is not necessarily true. While some chapters charge their members higher dues and try to recruit more women during spring recruitment, it is not guaranteed.

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