Going greek: recruitment advice from panhellenic council


The Daily Illini File Photo

Girls exit Foellinger Auditorium to join their new sisters on Monday, September 12, 2016. This year’s recruitment begins Sep. 7.

By Megan Bradley, Staff writer

It’s not uncommon to see sorority women represent their letters around campus. Whether it’s on the way to the gym, class or to grab a coffee, Greek life is an overwhelming presence on campus.

The size of the University’s Greek life has made letters a staple of so many students’ wardrobes, but behind each lettered apparel is a woman who joined a sorority for her own reasons by going through the recruitment process.

As the beginning of the new school year approaches, many women on campus will be getting ready for recruitment. College women looking to join a sorority will immerse themselves in recruitment starting Sept. 7.

Madison Ellin, Panhellenic vice president of recruitment, said when she first transferred to the University, she found herself debating whether or not to rush.

In fact, she did not sign up for rush until the last day of registration was open. Now, Ellin said she is so glad she chose to go through the recruitment process. She also said she had encountered opportunities such as being members of various executive boards because of her initial decision to rush.

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“To women who are on the fence about recruitment, I would say there is no harm in giving it a try,” Ellin said. “If after the process you decide it isn’t for you, that is completely okay. But, like in my case, you might be happily surprised where it takes you.”

Along with recruitment comes many stories from women on campus who have already been initiated into their houses. While the horror stories might be the most popularly shared around campus, there are more success stories than not, and there are also various resources available to help women through the rush process.

There are many reasons girls choose to rush, ranging from the potential for leadership opportunities to meet other women on campus.

Alison Owczarski, Panhellenic vice president of operations, said she joined a sorority to make a large campus feel smaller and to be part of a tight-knit organization.

“I was very stressed when I went through recruitment, so I wish I had relaxed more and focused on having fun,” Owczarski said. “People always say that you end up where you belong, and that is the truth. In the end, everything will work out.”

Owczarski is not alone in her feelings throughout the recruitment process. Ellin experienced the same feelings during her own recruitment process.

“I remember at my first chapter I was so nervous,” Ellin said. “I cracked the water cup I was given and spilled it all over the chapter member I was talking to. I was so embarrassed but she made me feel comfortable about the whole thing and we laughed it off for the rest of the event.”

After a while, Ellin said she was able to calm down and realized recruitment isn’t as intimidating as it may seem. She said she learned to have fun with the recruitment process.

Marissa Sulek, Panhellenic president, wrote in an email that her most vivid memory from recruitment was the last day before Bid Day when she had to make a decision about which house to preference.

“I was beyond torn and completely indecisive with which chapter to select. I soon realized I was one of the few left in Foellinger and I needed to make a decision fast,” Sulek said.

Whether a woman rushing feels the pressure during the first round of recruitment or after the last round, it is a completely natural feeling and something most potential new members go through.

Each year, the Panhellenic Council tries to make rush the most pleasant and enjoyable experience possible for both the women rushing and the women who are already members of Greek houses.

This year, they have instituted a few changes in the scheduling of several days during rush.

“There are now two days of the first invitational which has previously only been one day. This round has historically been the longest day of recruitment and voted the least favorite by chapter members and potential new members,” Ellin said. “We decided to break it up into two days to hopefully make it a better experience for all women involved.”

Another significant change is that a new house, Phi Mu, has joined campus and will now be part of formal recruitment. Owczarski said this is an exciting change because new members now have the chance to join a whole new house on campus.

One crucial piece of advice that Sulek, Owczarski and Ellin gave was that women entering the recruitment process should go in with an open mind and forget about any stereotypes they may have heard about any house.

“Prior to recruitment, everyone told me to keep an open mind,” Sulek wrote. “I chose to not listen to this advice and had tunnel vision during my recruitment process. Long story short, if you don’t stay optimistic about what each chapter has to offer, recruitment will be quite difficult.”

The beginning of the new school year is an exciting, and possibly overwhelming time, but recruitment does not have to be a nightmare for any potential new members to any of the Greek houses on campus. The University’s Greek life is very diverse and works very hard to find a place for each woman to call home.

“The process can get very overwhelming at times, but everything happens for a reason. Be yourself, take a deep breath and relax, this is meant to be fun,” Owczarski said.

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