New member sessions this fall to prepare freshmen for Greek life commitment

Media Credit: File photo by Ethan Stoler | Contributing Photo Editor

Greek councils are holding 19 “new member days” over the course of the fall semester to gear up for formal recruitment in the spring.

Freshmen are gearing up for Greek life formal spring recruitment by attending mandatory training sessions this semester.

Following the University’s decision to transition to a deferred recruitment policy – mandating that freshmen spend a semester on campus before joining Greek life – councils are holding 19 “new member days” over the course of the fall semester. The trainings are designed to teach potential new members about the Greek community and educate them on topics like hazing-prevention and service commitments.

Greek leaders and officials say the trainings will ensure freshmen interested in joining a chapter are aware of the lifetime commitment of joining Greek life – one of the main arguments officials made in support of deferred recruitment when it was announced in 2016.

All students interested in joining a fraternity or sorority are required to attend at least one of the new member sessions, which will delve into the soical interests, service commitments and financial obligations pertaining to each individual chapter.

Christina Witkowicki, the director of student involvement and Greek life, said freshmen at the information sessions will learn about the various opportunities each chapter offers and have the chance to ask questions about what is required of them as a chapter member.

“We want people to have eyes wide open before going into the process so that they really feel as if they’re knowledgeable about the different organizations,” Witkowicki said.

Greek leaders will host three additional training sessions at the beginning of next semester for students studying abroad or for those who didn’t have time to consider Greek life in the fall, she added.

Witkowicki said in previous years, some students joined chapters that weren’t the right fit because the old schedule did not allow enough time for interested students to learn about all of the chapters. She said when officials made the decision to adopt deferred recruitment, they wanted to ensure students had a sufficient amount of time to consider all their options, without the distraction of major fall events like Colonials Weekend and Labor Day weekend.

The sessions are one way council leaders have prepared for the new policy. Greek leaders have been encouraging events, like the “Meet the Greeks BBQ” last month, to keep freshmen interested even though they can’t join a fraternity or sorority this semester.

Harley Pease, the president of the Interfraternity Council, said the trainings are meant to educate potential new members on Greek life in 90-minute information sessions. Students will be able to sign up for a training session online, he said.

“The program is designed to compliment chapter new member education by having interested members and new members engage in a variety of topics from what it means to be Greek, how to get involved beyond just membership, risk management, image, alcohol and substance use, sexual assault awareness and hazing,” Pease said in an email.

Pease said some of the training sessions will be reserved for upperclassmen who accepted bids in the fall as part of an informal recruitment process, but most are geared toward freshmen.

“It is mandatory that all students – regardless of their academic classification, if interested in formal recruitment and meet our minimum requirements – attend a New Member Day session,” Pease said. “There will be no exceptions to this.”

Dani Harton, the president of the Panhellenic Association, said the sessions will delve into what the overall Greek experience entails for incoming members and potential issues students might face in joining a sorority or fraternity.

“Our hope is to help potential new members in our community be as prepared as possible for formal recruitment in the spring, and the possibility of joining Greek Life at GW,” Harton said in an email.

Elizabeth Jessup, the vice president of recruitment for Panhel, said the new member training sessions are meant to instill Greek values into students who are interested in joining the community. In 2015, Panhel adopted a values-based recruitment process where chapter members and potential recruits named personal values to determine if they would be a good fit for a chapter.

“It is essential that new members understand the role of Greek life and Greek members on campus and beyond so that they are able to positively contribute to the Greek community and the GW community once they join a chapter,” Jessup said in an email.

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