Despite fears that the economic downturn would affect this semester’s Greek recruitment numbers, representatives from the Interfraternity Council and the Panhellenic Council said membership growth for the fall semester remained steady.
“This summer we were looking at the numbers at other universities and [when] we saw drops anywhere we were terrified, but our numbers were fairly strong,” said Blessing Waung, Panhellenic president.
IFC said it had 1,020 men participate in fall rush and offered a total of 468 bids, representing a slight jump from the 438 of the previous year.
This fall also marked the first time IFC was able to keep track of all men who rushed a fraternity by using a newly created online database system.
“This is the first time we’ve had substantive data. In the past it wasn’t tracked with this kind of precision,” IFC President Nick Hamada said.
Additionally, instead of closing the rush process Sunday after bid night, as in previous years, IFC ruled that interested fraternities could use this week as a secondary bid period, during which they can extend bids to men who may not have received one during the original bid process. Hamada said he hoped this would give chapters the chance to retain potential pledges.
Panhellenic rushed 842 women, demonstrating a registration rate consistent with the numbers from last year, but only accepted a class of 539 bids, a 7 percent decrease compared with 579 from last fall.
Waung said she attributed the decrease in recruitment to the various financial troubles students are experiencing.
“We at Panhellenic have to adapt to the economy in the same ways as other organizations,” Waung said.
Although sorority recruitment numbers were down, Panhellenic Vice President of Recruitment Hilary Veit said this decrease was marginal compared to other universities, where chapters are losing hundreds of potential new members.
As part of their efforts to deal with the economic downturn, Waung said Panhellenic focused on being more upfront about sorority dues and stressing long-term financial benefits, such as living in their chapter’s house.
Christina Pushaw, a sophomore majoring in history who dropped out of rush, said finances were a consideration in her decision, as she would have to pay her own dues.
“I really would have to feel totally sure about joining a house before I spent my own money on it,” she said. “Whereas if my parents were paying for it, it might be a different story.”
Kelly Williams, a sophomore majoring in print journalism who also dropped out of rush, said she thought most prospective pledges would have known about the finances beforehand.
“I don’t feel like any girl is going to join a sorority and not know that there are dues. Everyone is well aware going in to it that there is a financial commitment as well as a time commitment,” she said.
Still, some girls think joining a sorority is worth it, despite the cost.
Hailey Andrews, a transfer student and sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism, said when she discussed college with her parents she first decided to save money to pay for sorority recruitment and dues.
“My parents always told me they’d help pay for college, but I had to pay for dues if I wanted to join a sorority,” Andrews said. “I think knowing I did it on my own makes it even more fulfilling.”
Panhellenic is planning to work with individual chapters to provide scholarships if students interested in joining a sorority are seriously concerned about paying for the dues.
“We’re trying to save money in our budget wherever possible to have some sort of surplus to allocate for scholarships,” Veit said.
Waung noted one of her goals for the semester is to establish a yearly Panhellenic scholarship in memory of Adrianna Bachan, the freshman from the Pi Beta Phi sorority who was killed in a hit-and-run last spring.