Panhellenic, IFC start year with changes, chapter additions

With the largest Greek community per capita in the country, the University’s Greek community is a popular option for students wanting to get involved, gain leadership experience and build close friendships. And in the first few weeks of the fall semester, Greek members are hard at work preparing to recruit those fresh faces. Nearly 22 percent of undergraduates are involved in one of the University’s more than 100 fraternities and sororities, and each potential member has to undergo the recruitment process. So what’s involved? The Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council are gearing up for 2013 recruitment, with new additions, policy changes and philanthropy campaigns.

One of the main differences to be found in this year’s Greek recruitment is the return of past University chapters. Phi Sigma Sigma, a sorority returning from a three-year hiatus, plans to rejoin the community this fall with a recruitment that mirrors Panhellenic’s formal recruitment, said Margarita Altidis, Panhellenic Council president and senior in LAS. While the chapter will be present during the Open House round, Phi Sigma Sigma’s recruitment will officially begin following the formal Bid Day.

For IFC, three chapters are in the process of returning to campus, said Bill Sterrett, IFC President and senior in Engineering. Pi Lambda Phi was voted in as an associate member chapter of IFC last spring and will continue to recruit members this year with hopes to return to an official house next fall, Sterrett said. Beta Theta Pi and Phi Kappa Theta are both recolonizing their chapters and are in the midst of petitioning to rejoin IFC as associate member chapters. Both chapters also plan to return to their original houses. Without a centralized house for recruitment, Beta Theta Pi’s process will be led by consultants from the national organization to assist with their more aggressive recruitment needs and thus will have different events, Sterrett said.

Both the sorority and fraternity communities will also implement important changes in their recruitment process. Earlier this year, Panhellenic Council members voted to define the entertainment of the first invitational and its focus, said Elizabeth Dunne, Panhellenic vice president for public relations and junior in Media. Instead of performing a skit as has been done in years past, during this round, chapters will present “a video, slideshow, speaker or a combination of those options” to demonstrate sisterhood in accordance to the four pillars of Panhellenic: leadership, service, sisterhood and scholarship, Dunne said.

“There wasn’t really a definition for it before, so we decided to make that the focus,” Altidis said. “During the second invitational, we have the philanthropy round and that was a change from last year, so we just wanted to define the first invitational a little bit more clearly this year.”

In addition to IFC’s informal recruitment, the Council introduced two new events for this year’s process, as well as sent out an informational mailer to all freshmen this summer. The first IFC barbecue, which saw a large attendance, was held last Saturday afternoon in Washington Park for potential new members to meet all of the IFC chapters, Sterrett said. The Council also introduced an Open House held from Tuesday to Thursday during which potential new members can meet with chapters grouped into three geographical regions, with one region scheduled for each night. Informal recruitment will then follow and varies from chapter to chapter; some chapters will have single days in which all bids are given out, while others offer them over the course of several weeks.

“Generally, (informal rush) involves any number of events — from barbecues and cookouts to movie nights and a car bash — to meet new members and get to know them,” Sterrett said. “The nice part about informal rush is that it can happen year-round and encourages chapters to recruit all year.”

For this year’s philanthropy, Panhellenic will continue its support of the Circle of Sisterhood, a service organization that aims to remove education barriers for girls and women. According to Altidis, the philanthropy was adopted to unite the chapters at the University with common fundraising and service goals. Following last year’s success of raising $6,000, Panhellenic will implement a new $10,000 goal this year as part of a 3-year $30,000 fundraising campaign to build a school in a place of need through the Circle of Sisterhood. The Panhellenic community’s philanthropy efforts are well on their way with the recent success of a Panhellenic pride T-shirt sale, a pre-recruitment week fundraising goal of $150 for each chapter and a donation fee for recruitment registration.

“I think that would be the most amazing accomplishment — to have sent 15 members of our community here from the University of Illinois to build a school somewhere where they need it, completely funded and built by women from the University’s Panhellenic community,” Altidis said.

IFC has transfered control of Bowl for Kids Sake, their previous philanthropy cause, to Kappa Sigma and is now working to find a new effort to replace it, Sterrett said.

In October, Panhellenic will host the 34th annual Emerging Leaders Conference, a seminar for chapter representatives who are interested in taking on leadership roles. Additionally, there are plans for the four Greek councils, which includes the United Greek Council and the Black Greek Council, to work together on the committee for Greek homecoming and the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event next spring.

But the councils are most looking forward to the addition of new members who value philanthropic efforts, sisterhood and brotherhood, and leadership in their community.

“There really isn’t a goal, number-wise, for recruitment,” Altidis said. “We’re just excited to welcome as many women as possible who are interested in sorority life.”

Sarah can be reached at [email protected]