As Loyola’s sorority recruitment came to a close last week and fraternities continue the recruitment process into next week, incoming and current members have been challenged with replicating social events online.
Greek life at Loyola consists of three councils: the Interfraternity Council, the Multicultural Greek Council and the Panhellenic Council, according to Loyola’s Student Activities and Greek Affairs website. These three councils include 20 socially based, Greek life organizations — meaning they have no residencies directly connected to the university through the organization.
While the Multicultural Greek organizations recruit individuals through a member intake process based on an individual’s qualifications and criteria, the Panhellenic and Interfraternity organizations hold annual recruitment processes that occur late January.
Loyola’s Panhellenic sorority recruitment process for potential new members (PNMs) officially began virtually Jan. 28, with the first 24 recruitment groups going through a “welcome round” where they met each sorority, reported Yianna Schneckloth, a new recruit of Alpha Chi Omega. The remaining 24 groups began Jan. 29, marking the second day of recruitment. While normally recruitment is held over a three day period, this year it was spread throughout four.
The schedule change was made in hopes to avoid Zoom fatigue and increase flexibilty throughout the process, reported Kamdyn Rhodes, a sophomore on the diversity, equity and inclusion committee of Kappa Delta. In addition to the change, lower turnout, reported by both fraternities and sororities, gave PNMs the opportunity to talk with more current members than previous years.
“Last year our numbers were upper 400s, they were the highest they’ve ever been because every year they had been growing,” Caroline Woodmancy, the former Vice President of Panhellenic Recruitment Operations, said. “This year we had, at the beginning of recruitment 259 which was lower at the end but it was definitely a higher number than we were expecting.”
Kenzie Meyer, a first-year at Loyola and recently recruited Kappa Delta member, told The Phoenix all 48 recruitment groups had to eliminate their least favored sororities each day until they got down to one or two, a system that has been carried over from in-person recruitment. Throughout the weekend, they had private Zoom meetings with current members to see if a sorority was right for them. The evening of Jan. 31, each PNM received an email from the sorority that extended a bid — meaning an invitation to formally join the sorority.
“On Saturday, I was definitely nervous because I was thinking what if they don’t like me, what if they don’t want to give me a bid,” Meyer, 18, said. “Then once the email came in, I was relieved and so excited and also exhausted.”
While this year’s PNMs underwent the same elimination process as in-person recruitment, current members were challenged with emulating the same environment they experienced in-person.
“Normally, you walk into the highly decorated room for a chapter and you get to feel the vibe and energy of a chapter, which helps determine if that chapter is right for you,” Rhodes, 20, said. “Over Zoom, it is hard creating the same atmosphere.”
Fraternity recruitment — which is instead hosting weekly meet-and-greet events over a four-week process this year — is facing similar struggles to engage PNMs.
“We’re trying to compensate for [being online] by putting in as much effort as we can to make sure [PNMs] are comfortable with the whole process,” Paul Schnell, a sophomore and the current recruitment chair of Sigma Chi, said. “We can’t expect them to open up unless we do.”
In addition to the efforts made to best replicate an in-person experience online, some sorority and fraternity chapters have significantly lowered dues to accommodate financial hardships caused from the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The National Panhellenic Council told us to prepare for lower turnout because of financial obligation, time obligation, stress right now, there’s so much going on,” Woodmancy, 21, said. “With the world just being so crazy right now nationally numbers have just been lower.”
While there are a number of reasons students are deciding against joining greek life, Abby Layton, the in-coming Vice President of Recruitment Operations, was grateful to hear positive feedback from the PNMs.
“It was really great when I heard mostly positive things,” Layton, 20, said. “PNMs were still able to make those really important connections and they were still able to find their panhellenic homes.”
Schneckloth, contributed to the feedback by recognizing the sororities’ work in adjusting to the online platform.
“I feel like they worked really hard to make sure that the experience was just as memorable as it would be in person,” Schneckloth, 18, said. “They achieved their goal of making this as authentic as possible.”
To Mackenzie Cronin, a junior and member of Kappa Delta, the challenges that came with virtual recruitment unified current members and PNMs.
“I think being able to broadcast your energy over a screen says a lot about a person’s character,” Cronin, 21, said. “I felt the warmth and love all throughout recruitment, not just with [Kappa Deltas] but also with the PNMs I got to meet, and I think that’s really special.”