Panhellenic. My spell check doesn’t even recognize the word, nor does the rest of the UR campus, male or female. According to a definition provided by the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, the Panhellenic Council is as follows: “The council assists in establishing guidelines for membership recruitment, service opportunities and social activities for Panhellenic Association sorority members. All guidelines act in accordance with the UR Expectations for Excellence as well as the National Panhellenic Conference unanimous agreements and policies.”

This year, I was fortunate enough to play a huge role in the recruitment process. I was elected as one of 13 recruitment counselors who agreed to disaffiliate from their respective sorority chapters and concentrate fully on getting female freshmen, sophomores and junior transfer students to go Greek. As a recruitment counselor, my job was to provide the girls with an unbiased, neutral guide throughout the process. The point was for the girls to feel comfortable talking with me about each chapter without worrying about insulting my chapter or me.

Disaffiliate: the term defined me from Jan. 20 to Jan. 29. Each recruitment counselor must move out of her residence and into a common location. All contact between disaffiliates and their chapters is severed, including speaking, e-mails, instant messages, phone calls and texting. Our focus was not on our own chapters, but on the potential new members. We sought only to show what an amazing experience college would be with the benefit of a sorority.

Formal Recruitment is the process of bringing every potential new member through events at all six Panhellenic sororities so they can decide which (if any) one they would like to join. Each sorority has its own personality provided by the diverse members in the chapter. The entire five-day process is planned out in advance to keep each sorority on equal ground. The potential new members spend the same exact time with each of their chosen sororities on each day of the weekend. After the potential new members attend Preference Night at their top two chapters, it often becomes difficult for these young women to sort through the experiences of the weekend and choose which chapter they feel most comfortable in. Factors such as friends opinions, stereotypes or other pressures should not contribute to her decision. She should decide on a chapter where she feels she fits in with the sisters and belongs.

The strictness of the weekend, as well as the meeting of hundreds of new sorority women in an extremely short period of time, is quite overwhelming to most of the girls going through the process. As a recruitment counselor, it is important to remind the girls to consider the personal experiences and interactions that she had with each chapter over the course of the entire weekend. It is the job of the recruitment counselors to be able to reassure the girls of the benefits that recruitment can offer them and to answer any confusing or difficult questions that they may have. She must guide her potential new members toward making a decision that they will be happy with both in the short term and in the long run.

Through Pref Night, the potential new members still have no idea which chapters their recruitment counselors belong to. They do, however, find out on Bid Day, at which time each recruitment counselor is allowed to go home to her chapter and sisters, with whom she hasn’t communicated in almost two weeks.

The Formal Recruitment process at UR is a unique system of recruitment. It focuses on the equality and importance of each chapter and the individuality that it offers to its potential new members. This year, the Panhellenic team broke records at UR with the most girls ever registering for and completing recruitment through the fifth night than ever before. The OFSA hopes to see this caliber of interest and success continue and grow during the coming years.

Nicewicz is a member of the class of 2009.

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