Sister, sister: recruits rush for spring 2017


Sorority rushees wait outside the William Pitt Union Ballroom during the recruitment process. John Hamilton | Visual Editor

Heeled boots clacked on the tile of the William Pitt Union lobby as women scurried from one room to the next visiting potential sororities and meeting their future sisters for the first time.

Pitt’s Panhellenic Association started their formal spring recruitment Jan. 6 — a two-weekend process when women on campus decide which sorority they want to join by rushing and hoping for a bid.

It’s a contrast to the fraternities’ informal process, where men typically only pick a couple of organizations to focus on. Instead, Pitt’s sororities spend two long and tiresome weekends making sure every woman has the opportunity to connect with every sorority.

But for both, the process is unpredictable — after a week and half of meeting new people and being around your potential brothers and sisters, the final outcome is only revealed on the last day, and not everyone is awarded with their first choice.

Emily Johnson, president of recruitment for Pitt’s Panhellenic Association, said that about 460 girls are rushing this semester — which is comparable to last spring. Before last year, the largest recruitment period would be in the fall. That changed before the fall semester in 2015, when the University enforced a policy stating that all students who decided to join Greek life had to complete 12 credits as a student at the University and have a minimum 2.5 GPA.

Johnson, a senior industrial engineering student, said that Pitt’s recruitment process works best for the students at Pitt and their academic schedules.

“Years ago, recruitment took place during the week, but then the council realized it was conflicting with class schedules,” Johnson said. “When I was rushing, we held recruitment over one weekend. The following year we switched to the two weekends, and I think that’s been working for us.”

The sorority recruitment works in rounds. The first two days are called 10 rounds, during which the rushees spend time with each sorority. At the conclusion of 10 rounds, the rushees will rate the sororities and the sororities will invite a select number of women back to visit throughout seven separate rounds.

On Friday and Saturday, students rushing had an opportunity to meet all 10 Panhellenic sororities on campus. Sigma Delta Tau, a sorority that was suspended last semester, was the only group missing over the weekend.

From about 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day, women took turns walking in groups from one room to the next in the WPU and O’Hara Student Center to chat with members of each sorority. They stand for hours chatting with women already pledged to one of the Greek groups. By the day’s end, women — who were dressed up at the beginning of the event — left the Union with a few curls falling out of place and started replacing their heels for ballet flats.

After two days of roaming around rooms and trying to make lasting first impressions in 15 minutes, the women revisited a maximum of seven sororities on Sunday for 20 minutes each — marking the first day where sororities and rushees begin to narrow down their choices. Next weekend, they can visit a maximum of five before preference night — where the women will have to pick their top choices from two sorority options. On bid day next Sunday the women will learn which sororities picked them back.

Pitt’s fraternities boast a more casual recruitment process.

This semester’s fraternity recruitment process will start Jan. 10, and go until Jan. 20, according to sophomore Adam Pile, recruitment chair for the fraternity Delta Chi, .

Students on campus who are looking to join a fraternity will go to “Meet the Greeks,” an event sponsored by Pitt’s Interfraternity Council, during which rushees can talk to members of the 19 IFC fraternities on campus.

After that event, each fraternity will host a mixture of open and closed events, and students have the choice on which ones they want to attend. Pile said that some events will be at the University-owned fraternity houses, while others might be at a restaurant on Forbes.

“We usually see who is dedicated and wants to join — that’s how we determine bids,” Pile said. “But since everything is informal, there are sometimes guys who don’t get into the fraternity, or any fraternity, that they want to.”

Despite all their effort, higher ups on the women’s side of Greek life keep potential bids guessing. The Panhellenic Association was not willing to comment on whether women who complete the recruitment process are guaranteed a bid.

While each session over the weekend lasted only 15 minutes, and women only met with five sororities a day, the 10 to 15 minute waiting period in between each visit doubles the time students spend in a given day and made some potential bids antsy.

“While I know and understand that [each sorority has] to reset everything for each group, it would be nice to get everything done in a couple hours each day,” Gianna Coscia, a sophomore rushee said.

Maddy Ostrom, a junior communications science and disorders major, went through the two-weekend process during the fall 2015. This year she is a counselor to about 30 women — providing them with advice on being confident and choosing appropriate outfits and offering a friendly face and calming presence for times when the process is overwhelming.

“By this point in the process, I was really tired,” Ostrom said. “It’s tiring to just wait around and then have the same small talk conversations all day long.”

Besides the long days, Cosica said that she didn’t stress too much about recruitment.

“It doesn’t take me long to plan out my outfit for the day, but some of the other girls in my dorm spent hours trying on clothes to figure out what they wanted to wear,” Cosica said. 1

Jess Phillips, a junior marketing major, said she was only invited back to meet with two sororities on Sunday afternoon during seven rounds, but she isn’t worried about the outcome.

“I’ve thought about what would happen if I didn’t get into either sorority, but I’m not sure if that’s a thing,” Phillips said.

Women must pay $15 to rush, but they are allowed to drop out of the recruitment process at any point if they change their mind.

Ostrom said that besides knowing a few girls who decided not to join a sorority by choice, she’s never heard of anyone who went through the process and didn’t make it into at least one.

Although Ostrom quickly found a group that she connected with in the sisters of Sigma Sigma Sigma, a friend of hers decided not to join a sorority after she didn’t receive the bid she had been hoping for. And, in the end, she said it’s worth all the waiting, small talk and anticipation.

“The first few days can be awkward because everyone is putting up a front on both sides,” Ostrom said. “But in the end, a couple tired weekends was nothing compared to what [sorority life] has given me.”