Office of Greek Life plans changes to next year’s recruitment process to increase accessibility and transparency

Panhellenic Council overhauls recruitment group system, adds sorority open houses; moves from stickers to buttons raises complaints


Claire Barnett

Vanderbilt women participate in Formal Sorority Recruitment on Saturday, January 13, 2018. (Photo by Claire Barnett)

Anna Yarinsky

Though the most visible changes to Greek life on campus are the comings and goings of various fraternities, there are also impactful changes being made to Vanderbilt’s sororities.

These changes include making the recruitment process more transparent by making each sorority hold an open house in the fall and discuss the financial obligations of membership during the first day of recruitment. More controversial is the upcoming switch from sorority stickers to buttons at outdoor parties, which some sorority members have pushed back against.

“The recruitment process is in constant need of evaluation and change,” Director of the Office of Greek Life Kristen Torrey said in an email.

Panhellenic Council president Carter Williams said that the biggest changes on the horizon for Panhellenic are those being made to the sorority recruitment process.

Williams described some specific changes: in 2020 recruitment, there will be two recruitment counselors per group, compared to one previously, and recruitment groups will no longer be based on residence halls. This is intended to encourage potential new members (PNMs) to meet PNMs who they may not already know and to avoid the sense of competition that arises from having all the members of a recruitment group live in close proximity, according to Williams.

Other changes are targeted at making the recruitment process more accessible and transparent. Williams noted that a survey taken last year that asked participants their opinions on the recruitment process showed that PNMs wanted more informal opportunities to get to know older members during the fall semester. In response to this, each randomly assigned “sister sorority” pairing will hold an open house next fall to allow PNMs to get to know the members more casually and become more comfortable being in the sorority houses before formal recruitment begins. The sorority pairs will decide who hosts the event, during which a few members from each sorority, who will not be wearing recruitment shirts, will be present to chat casually with PNMs.

Each sorority will also be obligated to discuss the financial obligations of membership during Display round, the first day of recruitment.

Williams emphasized the importance of allowing the recruitment process to evolve along with the Vanderbilt population.

I think in previous years we have relied on students coming to Vanderbilt with an interest in pursuing membership in a Greek organization. As the demographics of each class change, we have more students who are coming to Vanderbilt and have less prior knowledge about Greek life.”

Most recently, a policy regarding sorority stickers at tailgates and other day parties was met with complaints. It states that, beginning next fall, sorority members must replace their stickers with buttons to avoid the phenomenon of placing stickers on male students or taking other sorority stickers off of people and decrease litter.

Some sorority members expressed concern about getting rid of the stickers.

“I was looking forward to being able to wear stickers and being able to put them on my guy friends, so I think buttons are going to be harder,” said first-year and member of Tri Delta sorority Eva Herr. “I think they probably have the school’s image in mind over sorority women’s needs, because I think that the majority of sorority women treated the stickers respectfully.”

First-year Jack Rosenbloom said that he doesn’t support the change because the stickers were used in good fun and promoted the sorority.

Compounding student frustrations, many sorority women don’t understand how the Panhellenic Council makes decisions, Williams said. The council consists of ten NPC women who represent their sororities and help make decisions about sorority and recruitment policies. She believes that backlash to Panhellenic Council decisions is inevitable given that the council that serves hundreds of sorority members.

“Every decision we make is dependent on the support of the ten chapters that comprise our council,” said Williams. “We consult these elected individuals weekly at our Panhellenic Delegates meeting to ensure that the views and opinions of their chapter are heard and reflected in everything we do.”