Sorority recruitment sees drop in interest
Formal sorority recruitment registration closed with 455 students registered to participate, over 45 fewer than the year before.
Students will arrive on campus one week before the beginning of the spring semester to spend time getting to know different sororities. Despite the drop in registration, Panhellenic leaders remain confident in the role that Greek life can play on campus.
“Even though numbers might be lower, what I have seen so far is that we still have a very large group of women who are really excited about the process of going through recruitment and the idea of joining a Panhellenic sorority,” vice president of recruitment for the Women’s Panhellenic Association, senior Payton Lang, said. “It is completely normal for there to be ebbs and flows with registration numbers, and these aren’t unheard of numbers.”
One factor preventing students from participating in the formal recruitment process can be the $100 registration fee. Currently, no framework exists to waive this fee for students who cannot afford it.
“Another reason that some people might not want to rush is that it’s kind of expensive,” first-year Isabelle Genter said. “And I know a lot of people drop out when they’re older because they’re not as involved and dues are pretty expensive.”
Other students express hesitations about the perpetuation of sexual assault and traditional gender roles in Greek life. Genter plans on joining a sorority but said that the heteronormative culture of Greek systems was a factor she had to consider.
“I think Greek life as a nationwide system is very heteronormative, so I could see it being exclusive to people who…aren’t heterosexual. Also, there is a very prevalent issue of sexual assault in Greek life, which is obviously not a good thing,” Genter said. “These are definitely issues that I considered. Being cisgender and heterosexual, some of those issues don’t really affect me as much, but I still view them as issues.”
Despite these problems, many students agree that sorority life has an overall benefit to the Washington University community and maintain that the recruitment process can be a very constructive experience for first-years.
“Coming into college, I never thought that I would join Greek life. It just never seemed like something that was up my alley,” Genter said. “But I feel like in college, a lot of social life revolves around your passions and I think Greek life is a really great way to meet people who are passionate about different things and involved in different things.”
In order to address student concerns, the Women’s Panhellenic Association (WPA) is actively supporting typically marginalized minority groups by giving them a voice in sorority life.
“We are working with different groups within the community like Sisters of Color and Lambda Q to make sure that the more marginalized communities feel that they are welcomed and the Panhellenic community is a place for them,” Lang said.
Lang hopes that the WPA can drive up future recruitment numbers by emphasizing the transformative nature of the sorority experience.
“One thing that should be coming out soon is some recruitment PR from our VP of marketing that shows a lot of stories of women in the community,” Lang said. “I believe by emphasizing those personal stories, I think that will help drive up interest in the future.”