Sororities will recruit new members before the start of the spring semester next academic year.
The Panhellenic Association plans to shift recruitment to the five days before classes start next year instead of hosting the event over the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday weekend, student leaders said. The changed schedule will allow students to focus on recruitment without worrying about academics and also enable them to enjoy a three-day weekend that was previously consumed by recruitment activities, they said.
Izzy Griffith, the president of the Panhellenic Association, said leadership reworked the schedule after speaking with chapter leadership, advisers and other schools that follow a similar schedule over the past few months. She said student leaders have tossed around the changed schedule since officials decided three years ago to hold recruitment in the spring, but students could not immediately implement the change because of necessary housing accommodations and administrative objection.
“The women find it challenging to balance their other commitments and participate in recruitment, and while they have been doing a good job at finding that balance, we wanted to look into a way to make recruitment an easier process and provide more support to our women,” Griffith said in an email.
She said the change will create a “more inclusive and healthy” environment for potential new members because the time commitment for each day will differ from years past. Potential new members previously remained in the Marvin Center until midnight on some days, but next year, recruitment will take place during the day, she said.
Griffith said residence halls will open Jan. 6 for potential new members, and individual chapters will decide their own move-in days ahead of the first day of recruitment on Jan. 8. She said Jan. 7 will be dedicated to an orientation day for potential new members to learn about the recruitment process, participate in practice rounds and review financial information.
Recruitment will wrap up on Jan. 12 with bid day, and classes will begin on Jan. 13, Griffith said.
Meredith Yarp, the Panhellenic Association’s vice president of recruitment, said the new schedule allots an “extra week for our sisters to bond” with their new sororities. She said the new recruitment dates allow members to attend D.C. events that have conflicted with recruitment in the past, like the presidential inauguration and Women’s March.
“With recruitment finishing before classes start, the women participating will be able to fully focus on their schoolwork without the distraction of recruitment,” Yarp said in an email.
Three of GW’s peer schools – the University of Miami and Tulane and Wake Forest universities – hold sorority recruitment before classes begin in the spring semester.
Panhellenic leaders at schools that hold recruitment in January said the schedule benefits participants’ emotional and physical health because class and recruitment can be challenging to juggle.
Angie Cunningham, the vice president of membership on Wake Forest University’s Panhellenic Executive Council, said the school has held recruitment before spring classes for several years. She said the recruitment process is difficult for some women because of long days and the pressure to earn a bid, but Wake Forest’s recruitment timing removes the additional stress of courses.
“Sorority recruitment is not only physically but emotionally exhausting, so I think that having it before classes start is really, really nice to allow girls to focus on recruitment itself and have the capacity to make the important decisions that are going to influence their social life and their experience at the school,” she said.
Hannah Dewing, the former president of the Panhellenic Association at Washington and Lee University, said the school has held recruitment the week before its winter term begins for the past four years. She said the timing helps alleviate stress and distractions from academics, but student leaders have noticed that moving in early has negatively affected some students who can’t return to campus before the start of the semester.
“We come back around Jan. 3 or 4, so some students, particularly international students, might not make it back from break in time,” Dewing said. “We try to be really communicative about that. Before they are even on campus in the fall, we have all the dates set and ready to go and communicated.”
This article appeared in the April 4, 2019 issue of the Hatchet.