By the third week of the semester, many students are settling into a rhythm. First-year students are getting the hang of advanced coursework, upperclassmen have shifted into school mode after a long summer. For one subgroup of the student population, the annual chaos of the beginning of the semester has just died down. Sorority formal recruitment ended last week, and with it, some kind of normalcy has returned to the lives of the Greek life members.
“Recruitment is always an exciting time for the College Panhellenic as we get to share with those interested in membership what makes our community special and each chapter unique,” Morgan Outing, a senior marketing and management student and the president of the Maine Alpha chapter of Pi Beta Phi said.
With nine active sororities on campus, the recruitment process is active and lengthy. It begins with orientation, a two-night process where potential new members can come to learn about the process, what they have to do and specific events that they will have to attend. This usually takes place on a Monday and Tuesday to kick of the week of recruitment.
The “sisterhood round,” for everyone who is registered as a potential member, follows with a full two nights in the Memorial Union of each potential new member (PNM) having the opportunity to see and talk to every organization. After the second night of the sisterhood round, PNM’s have the chance to rank each organization by order of preference. The individual sororities, in turn, rank their top selections of PNM’s.
This process is supposed to be individualized and based on matching values between new members and organizations.
The next landmark in the process is philanthropy night, when each PNM can learn about each sorority’s philanthropic activities. More group activities follow on Saturday before the whole process comes to an end on the last Sunday of formal recruitment, when sororities hand out offers of membership (known as bids) to potential new members.
Joshua Stanhope, the assistant director of fraternity and sorority life and Mariah Vanevenhoven, the graduate assistant for fraternity and sorority affairs, are busy in the lead up to and during formal recruitment to make sure the week runs smoothly.
“My role in the sorority recruitment process is to provide support and guidance for the Panhellenic Council and Rho Gammas (also known as recruitment guides, these women dissociate from their sororities and help potential new members navigate the recruitment process),” said Vanevenhoven.
“The Panhellenic president, vice president of recruitment and Rho Gammas are truly the ones running the show and creating the scheduling for recruitment week,” Vanevenhoven said. “Myself and Josh Stanhope are there throughout the week to help chapters troubleshoot any issues with their rooms/equipment, maintain the ICS system (a website where are PNM information is kept and, ultimately, where bid matching occurs), and help PNMs rank their top chapters at the end of the week before bid day.”
Stanhope also gives credit to these individuals for the successful week.
“Their messaging out to potential new members was very strong and there was a lot of communication between those folks,” Stanhope said. He believes PNMs are drawn to sororities, in part, because they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves.”
There is also the notion of “sisterhood” and empowerment. Stanhope believes these are attractive qualities and serve to get people excited about joining Greek life.
This is Stanhope’s fourth year in this position and although he says he still learns new things about the complicated process every year, he was pleased that this year almost every sorority hit their quota of 20 new members, which is up from last year’s quota of 15.
“The ultimate goal at the end is for them to all meet [membership] quota,” Stanhope said.
Katie Raffier, an ecology and environmental science and economics student, is the president of the Alpha Upsilon chapter of Delta Zeta. She thinks recruitment during the first weeks of this fall semester went pretty well overall.
“There can always be improvements in organization and pre planning but our Panhellenic Council works hard to make sure we get what we need as fast as possible,” Raffier said.
“For me, joining Delta Zeta gave me a sense of home because coming to Orono, Maine from Jacksonville, Florida at the age of 18 was terrifying. It is so important that women today have other women they can look to and aspire to be like. I think sororities give you that opportunity,” Raffier said.
The University of Maine has a long history with sororities. Alpha Omicron Pi is the oldest at the University, with a founding date of April 16, 1908, and is still in operation. The history of Greek life as a whole at UMaine dates as far back as 1874, and the culture of that tradition is still strong, according to Vanevenhoven.
“Recruitment evolves and progresses each year under the guidance of the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) and with the help of undergraduate students, advisors, and UMaine staff,” Vanevenhoven said. “I believe the history is extensive and strong considering the moderately small size of our community.”
The next recruitment process will take place next fall and is open to all. To inquire more about the process you can stop in to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs in the Memorial Union.