Panhellenic and Interfraternity Councils complete 2022 formal spring recruitment, membership down 16.6% since 2021

IFC and Panhel Greek Life grew by 427 new members through formal spring recruitment, which took place both in person and over Zoom.

Greek+Row

Hallie Williams

The Pi Kappa Alpha house on Greek Row, as photographed on Nov. 15, 2020. (Hustler Multimedia/Hallie Williams)

Sally Johnson, News Copy Editor

Update: This piece was updated on Feb. 11, 2021 at 1:05 p.m. CST to include NPHC and IGC recruitment dates.

The Panhellenic (Panhel) Council completed its formal recruitment process for the 2021-22 academic year as of Jan. 30 and the Interfraternity Council (IFC) completed its recruitment process on Jan. 29. New membership is down 16.6% since the 2020-21 academic year.

Per Kristin Torrey, director of the Office of Greek Life, Panhel received 264 new members and the IFC received 163 new members through their 2022 formal spring recruitment, totaling 427 new members. 

Numbers fluctuate from year to year for a variety of reasons,” Torrey said about the 2022 membership decline in an email to The Hustler. “Students find community and belonging in many ways at Vanderbilt, and Greek Life is only one of those opportunities.”

According to a Greek membership statistics report conducted by the university, Greek Life grew by 512 members in the 2020-21 academic year with 334 students joining sororities and 178 joining fraternities. This data includes new members who joined National Pan-Hellenic Council (NPHC) and Intercultural Greek Council (IGC) sororities and fraternities.

2020-21 and 2021-22 Greek Life recruitment data.  (Hustler Multimedia/Alexa White)

Recruitment Graphic
2020-21 and 2021-22 Greek Life recruitment data. (Hustler Multimedia/Alexa White)

Per the Office of Greek Life, NPHC and IGC recruitment began on Jan. 17 and will continue until April 3. As of publication, 2021-22 recruitment data for the NPHC and the IGC has not been released. 

Recruitment for eligible sororities will continue informally via continuous open bidding (COB), which does not have an end date. This process allows sororities who did not reach their chapter membership limit through formal recruitment to continue recruiting. Panhel sets the membership limit each year based on the third quartile size of Panhel sororities’ membership counts. This year, the quota was 112 members. Five sororities are officially participating in COB: Alpha Chi Omega, Alpha Delta Pi, Kappa Delta, Pi Beta Phi and Zeta Tau Alpha.

Per Torrey, IFC fraternities do not explicitly engage in COB because, unlike Panhel, they do not operate under chapter membership limits. In the absence of COB, the IFC is still able to continue welcoming new members after the conclusion of formal recruitment.

“IFC fraternities are eligible to continue to give bids at their discretion, so essentially they are eligible for continuous open bidding,” Torrey said. “As with all groups, they would need to make sure that prospective members meet the standard eligibility requirements and then have an appropriate plan for new member education that would integrate any additional new members.   

The first three rounds of Panhel recruitment took place on Jan. 22, 23 and 28 respectively and were conducted over Zoom in accordance with Commodores Care policies in place at the time. The fourth round of recruitment and Bid Day were on Jan. 29 and 30, respectively. As they occurred after the Commodores Care period ended, they were conducted in person.

Kay Shao, sophomore and new member of Kappa Alpha Theta, said that Panhel recruitment occurring partially over Zoom did not affect her decision to participate in formal spring recruitment. 

“I don’t think I took into consideration the pandemic at all in my decision to rush because I’m a sophomore, and I’m so used to things being over Zoom,” Shao said. 

IFC formal recruitment took place entirely in person throughout the Fall 2021 semester and consisted of events such as weekly cookouts and house gatherings. It concluded with a formal bid night on Jan. 29. 

Benjamin Powdermaker, junior and IFC president, said he was pleased with the results of IFC’s recruitment process, which allowed fraternities to meet more than 200 students and welcome 163 new members. Panhel executive board members and chapter recruitment chairs did not respond to The Hustler’s requests for comment regarding Panhel recruitment.

It was back to in-person recruitment which allowed for more people to interact with chapters,” Powdermaker said in an email to The Hustler. “We made an effort to host events on Commons so that first-years did not feel pressure to come to Greek row.”

Sophomore Matthew Mangano, who joined Pi Kappa Alpha, said that his IFC recruitment experience was overall positive.

“It’s fun meeting all the guys and finding your place,” Mangano said. “It’s a cool experience.”

Connor Warmuth, senior and member of the movement to abolish IFC and Panhel Greek Life, said he believes that IFC and Panhel recruitment processes, including those conducted in the 2021-22 academic year, are rooted in “oppressive systems” that can harm students.

“While it is true that IFC and Panhel may be able to help some students of color have a good college experience or gain access to essential career/networking resources, it is also clear from hundreds of testimonials on our Instagram and from cultural communities across the Vanderbilt campus that IFC and Panhel [Greek Life] is still unsafe and unhelpful for many low-income, neurodivergent, non-cis, non-white, and/or Indigenous students,” Warmuth said in a message to The Hustler.