About two weeks ago, the fraternities and sororities of William Jewell College held its 131st recruitment and brought in brand new Greek students.
Greek life was introduced to the Hill in 1886, when the College was still an all-male institution. It began with the founding of the Phi Gamma Delta [FIJI]-Zeta Phi chapter, followed a year later by the establishment of Kappa Alpha Order-Alpha Delta chapter, the Sigma Nu-Beta Chi chapter in 1894 and the Lambda Chi Alpha-Epsilon Nu chapter in 1942. The first sorority on campus was the Alpha Gamma Delta-Epsilon Epsilon chapter, established in 1946. Three years later, Alpha Delta Pi-Gamma Nu chapter was established, followed by the Delta Zeta-Zeta Rho chapter in 1961 and Zeta Tau Alpha-Delta Chi chapter in 1964.
Although fraternities and sororities observe spring recruitment, the processes are very different. “All the men have to go to each house and each house has a night, then they have to fill out a preference card,” said Sara Bailey, Jewell’s Panhellenic Advisor. “Their bid day structure is that all of the chapters can offer bids to whoever meets their expectations to receive a bid, so they could potentially receive one, two, or three bids.”
Unlike the sororities, there are no restrictions on how many men can accept bids for each fraternity. “The most exciting aspect of rush week itself is getting the preference cards back every night to see what your potential new members are rating you,” Troy Williams, the FIJI president, said. “That’s also probably the most stressful time of the week because sometimes guys will give you ratings that you don’t expect, which can be both positive and negative.”
Sororities, however, have three nights of recruitment. On the first night, philanthropy night, the women visit each of the four houses. On the second night, called sisterhood night, the women are invited back to one, two or three of the sororities, based on mutual preference. On the last night, preference night, the women attend either one or two parties, after which they turn in a preference card. “I work with an RFM specialist and we go through the computer system to match everyone with a bid if possible, so it’s a lot of math,” Bailey said.
She explained that for the sorority recruitment process, there are two important numbers: quota and total. “Quota is the number of women who can join each chapter through recruitment. Total is the chapter size after recruitment. The goal is to make sure that chapters are the same size as much as possible across campus.”
While Williams said that the mechanics of fraternity recruitment are relatively static, there was one major change in sorority recruitment this year: the elimination of skit night, which has traditionally occurred instead of Sisterhood Night. Bailey explained that the Unanimous Agreements section of the National Panhellenic Conference, which binds all sororities on Jewell’s campus, has transitioned away from using skits during recruitment, although she was unsure of the reason behind the decision. Instead of skits, the sororities decided to make sisterhood videos that they could share with their potential new members.
“During the fall semester, our chapter was not sure what to expect for this night of recruitment since it would be new for everyone,” said Bailey Breeding, former president of Delta Zeta. “We chose to focus on what sisterhood means to us and what it looks like in our chapter. I think this change was tough since Skit Night was always fun, but our women embraced the change and enjoyed this night of Recruitment too.”
The campus is enthusiastic about welcoming this new class of Greek men and women and supporting their presence on the Hill. Although she was not involved in Greek Life during her time at Hiram College, President Elizabeth MacLeod Walls acknowledged Jewell’s high retention rate of Greek Life students. “When students feel connected, they are more likely to feel supported,” she said. “And that allows them to navigate some of the challenges that come with moving away from home and adapting to a rigorous learning environment.”
Breeding agreed, saying that “Greek organizations also empower their members to be involved and well-rounded.”
The FIJI chapter has discussed their goals for the upcoming semester, and has dedicated themselves to promoting Greek Unity. “[We] think it’s important that we support each other, whether it be our philanthropic events or sharing what works and what doesn’t work within our own chapters,” Williams said. “I also think it’s important that we think of creative ways to create a space that involves people who aren’t in Greek organizations to be a part of unity on the Hill.”
The leadership of Greek Life has resolved to maintain a positive impact on Jewell’s campus this semester, both between organizations, with the staff and with non-Greek students in the hopes that this new Greek class will carry on strong traditions and continue to benefit their community.