By now, you’ve probably all heard about the Cosmo article in which sorority member Tess Koman defended the practice of hazing in her sorority. In a response to this piece, former sorority member Samantha Jaffe suggests that hazing is only the tip of the iceberg with sorority problems — that, in fact, one of the worst facets of sorority life is the recruitment process itself.
“[R]ecruitment was why I deactivated my sorority. It left me with an awful taste in my mouth. Even chapters like mine, that don’t discriminate based on race, do discriminate based on other things. And those things are, more often than not, things that the woman in question can’t necessarily control.”
“[H]ow else are you supposed to judge [PNMs] than by what they look like and how good they are at small talk? … So when we talk about hazing, why don’t we start with the recruiting process? … We’ve all seen Mean Girls. Surely there has to be a better way to foster sisterhood than to cut some people down to make others feel special.”
As a former recruitment chair, I think I speak for many of us when I say that there is so much more to recruitment than the discriminatory process that Samantha describes. I personally spent weeks doing everything I could to get a full and complete handle on each and every PNM, and then encouraged all of my sisters to do the same. I won’t highlight the specifics, but I made it a priority to make sure that every active member made the effort to get to know each girl as well as possible in the short time frame during which recruitment takes place. We go through weeks and weeks of training to learn how to maximize our time with each girl in these small-talk scenarios to understand their personalities, the unique contributions that they could bring to our sisterhood, and whether or not they’re a good fit for us.
Yes, there will always be the sisters who don’t make recruitment a priority and just vote for the girls who they think will look the cutest in their letters, but I think it’s important here to make a distinction between individual members and the actions of the group as a whole. After all, sorority members are people just like everyone else, and yes, sometimes people judge each other. It’s just a fact of life. We do have to make judgment calls during recruitment on who gets a bid and who does not, but those judgments are based on so, so much more than physical appearance. Our sisterhood is something so valuable, so personal, and so near and dear to our hearts that most of us would rather die than issue bids to girls just because they’re “hot” without taking into account their dedication, sense of humor, ambition, drive, love for helping others, and last but not least, desire for our letters.
From the outside looking in, sorority life can seem like a pseudo Mean Girls scenario — only the prettiest, richest, and most popular girls are allowed into a tight little clique, but I can assure you that nothing is farther from the truth. Yes, there will always be girls that don’t make it into their top choice house during recruitment, but that doesn’t make that sorority evil for not issuing a bid to every single girl that wants one. All it means is that that specific house wasn’t the best fit for that specific girl. A girl will receive a bid to the sorority that’s actually the best fit for her as an individual. I’ve seen many, many girls met with brief disappointment when they didn’t receive a bid to their top choice, but I’ve also seen these girls filled with joy when they receive their new letters and love them fiercely. These girls go on to be officers in their sororities, adore their sisterhoods, and make bonds that will literally last a lifetime. When it comes down to it, you want to be a part of something in which you feel like you have a unique place, a hole that only you can fill. That can only happen if you take a step back and realize that yes, recruitment is a selective process, but one that is specifically designed that way to make sure that everyone finds their best fit to have the best and most meaningful four years of your life. Enjoy, accept, and put 110% into the recruitment process because it brings you one step closer to finding your chapter’s next batch of “best babies EVER”…until next semester, that is.