Sororities fill limited open spots through informal recruitment

Daina Amorosano

Alpha Chi Omega and Alpha Phi, the two participating sororities in this fall’s Continuous Open Recruitment, will each offer bids to a handful of potential new members today.

Any chapter whose membership is under total is eligible and encouraged to participate in COR to recruit up to that figure, though it is optional, according to Assistant Director for Fraternity & Sorority Life Phil O’Neill.

Both participating sororities were five under total, which refers to the maximum number of members a sorority can have –– 94 members for the 2010-’11 academic year, according to O’Neill. 

The number is based on a Panhellenic Council vote taken in the spring to decide whether to use the mean, median or maximum chapter headcount, as projected by each sorority after considering membership losses such as graduating seniors.

“We had an unprecedented number of girls graduate a semester and even a year early, so we looked to fill the open spots before formal spring recruitment rolls around,” said Jordan Padilla, junior and vice president of recruitment for Alpha Chi Omega, which graduated 25 members in the spring.

COR allows sororities to fill open spots with women who may have not had the chance to go through formal recruitment in the spring, such as transfer students, according to Padilla.

“Five women doesn’t compare to the 30-plus we can take during formal recruitment,” Padilla said. “But it is better to give five or six the opportunity to join a sorority than to deny them that chance. Obviously we would love to take more than five, but Panhellenic Council allots a maximum.”

Participating in COR, which costs both time and money, is not without risks and disadvantages. 

“We weren’t sure how many people were going to sign up for fall recruitment, so committing to do it required us to take the risk that there may not actually be any girls that would fit into Alpha Chi Omega,” Padilla said.

Sororities can also stand to lose potential members that they might have taken in the spring, according to senior and President of Recruitment for Alpha Phi Brittany DiMarco.

“There were so many good sophomores, and we can only take so few, so it’s hard to tell them to come back in the spring,” DiMarco said. “The sorority still wants you, but we think we are going to lose some girls who we would want to take in the spring.”

One sorority under total by one member opted not to recruit someone to fill a single spot.

“We chose not to participate in COR because we would only be able to gain one new member, and we didn’t want to take away from her the experience of bonding with a pledge class and the exciting new member period,” said senior Kate Wroblewski, president of recruitment for Kappa Kappa Gamma.

“If total had been a lower number than 94, resulting in a pledge class of less than five, we probably would have opted out of COR,” Padilla said. “Five is kind of the ‘magic number’ for participating. Alpha Chi Omega Nationals check to make sure we are keeping quota but probably wouldn’t blink an eye if we were short four members or fewer.”

The turnout was markedly high, though, according to O’Neill, with about 60 women signing up at the initial information session last week.

Anywhere from 35 to 45 women attended each of the first rounds, which were held as a barbecue on Sheehan Beach for Alpha Phi and “Cookies and Chai with Alpha Chi” in Donahue Hall.

These numbers result in an acceptance rate in the range of about 11 to 14 percent – a figure that renders receiving a sorority bid through informal recruitment more of a statistical challenge than getting into Villanova in the first place.

But that there are so few spots to offer through COR is good news, according to O’Neill.

“It’s an indication of parity among the chapters,” O’Neill said. “Right now there is excellent parity, and that’s the goal. It means that all the groups are strong. We’re in a healthy place. If anything, the concern is that the groups are getting large.”

Formal recruitment will take place in January 2011, before the start of second semester.