First-year Lane Williams was one of 228 women to attend Sorority and Fraternity Life’s recruitment week this fall.
A record number of women participated in recruitment week this year, more than the University of South Dakota has ever seen. According to Amber Groh, assistant director for Sorority and Fraternity Life, 228 women attended the first night of recruitment this semester, whereas 189 women attended the first night in 2011.
By the end of the week, there were 140 women who were placed in a sorority, which is also an increase from 2011 when 116 women were placed.
“It was a nice increase, and we had more women register than ever before,” said Groh.
The increase meant first-year students going through met more of their classmates, Williams said.
“It was hectic, but I enjoyed it,” she said. “There were a lot of people.”
Each sorority chapter is able to have 92 total active members as determined by the Panhellenic Council, a nine-person board designed to guide USD’s four sororities. Groh said the Panhellenic Council met Monday to discuss raising the total, and will meet again Sept. 24 to vote.
“We brought it forward Sept. 10, and the chapters will take it back to their national delegates about what to do,” she said.
With an increase in new members for 2012, the sororities are preparing to adjust for the upcoming years. One of the ways is through the new member classes that new recruits must attend. Groh said new member classes may be larger than the sororities’ junior and senior classes, so new member classes are adapted to better inform the new recruits.
“New member education becomes really important now,” said Groh. “Essentially, you have a new member class that when something comes to a chapter vote, they can outvote their seniors. It’s important that they do really thorough, strong new member education with these new members so that they’re informed, and they’re able to make good decisions so they don’t sway the direction the house is going.”
Annie Miller, president of Alpha Xi Delta, said new member classes are improved on and change each year to better serve their members.
“What we learned as freshmen is different from what the freshmen learn now,” she said.
Another way the sororities are adapting is through housing. Groh said while the sorority members are required to live in the chapter house for three years, some upperclassmen voluntarily moved out of their houses to make room for the incoming members.
“Since we’ve seen an increase in numbers, the chapters have actually released some of their older members,” Groh said. “Probably the area we’ve seen the biggest adjustment is that they’re allowing some upperclassmen to live out of the chapter house to make room for their incoming new
Senior Allison Lightfield, chief recruiting officer of Kappa Alpha Theta, has experienced these housing adjustments with her sorority, and is optimistic with the outcome.
“This year, in my house, several seniors were asked to volunteer to move out, and eight of us got a house together,” she said. “It’s kind of nice because we were able to stick together and we’re hoping to just pass that down. It’s a good problem to have.”
Lightfield also mentioned that USD has been very fortunate compared to other universities.
“At bigger schools, it’s just normal that the sophomores live in the house and once you’re a junior or senior you move out, so we’re lucky that we haven’t really had to deal with that,” Lightfield said.
The increased number of attendees also changed how recruitment week was formatted this year. Miller explained that on the first night, the women have the chance to visit all four chapter houses. However, instead of the normal four rounds, the sororities had six rounds come through. Miller and Lightfield agreed that the extra rounds made recruitment more stressful, but it was worth it.
“As the women came through, we got to know them better because there were more rounds, therefore less people in each round,” Lightfield said.
Miller added that the structure helped the sorority members have a better experience during recruitment week as well.
“It was nice for the chapters to be able to get to know [the women] and stay calm through it all,” Miller said.
Overall, both Miller and Lightfield said they are excited to see how Sorority and Fraternity Life will grow this winter and the coming years as interest in sorority and fraternity life grows at USD.
“We were excited to see the number of women going through at such a high number,” said Lightfield. “It made for a very busy recruitment week but a very rewarding one, mostly because it betters Greek life as a whole, not any individual house. It makes our entire Greek life stronger having more people interested in it.”
The work sorority members put into recruitment week showed to Williams, a new member of Alpha Phi. Even though the number of women attending was a bit intimidating, Williams said the experience was a good way to meet people.
“It was a little nerve-wracking because you didn’t know if you were going to get a bid or not,” Williams said. “But I was surprised with how nice everyone was.”