Priya Patel, Contributing Photographer

The spring 2012 Panhellenic Sorority recruitment period, which ended on Tuesday, Jan. 31, saw a monumental increase of participation in Greek life at UR.

At the end of this year’s recruitment period, 206 women were invited to join a sorority, representing a 51 percent increase from last year and putting the percentage of the female undergraduate population involved in Greek life to 22 percent.

Furthermore, there was a 72 percent increase in the number of women that completed recruitment from last year, according to Director of Fraternity and Sorority Affairs Monica Miranda Smalls, who described the increase as “significant.”

Smalls attributes some of the growth to the fact that last year UR added a seventh sorority, making this the first recruitment after a full year of Chi Omega’s membership in the Panhellenic Association.

She also attributes some of the growth to the fact that the Panhellenic Association is the “largest, collective women’s organization on campus.”

“It is clear that they are doing a great job and I imagine that is what others want to be a part of,” she said.

Panhellenic Association Chair and sophomore Julia Evans said she does not believe there is any particular reason for the increase this year, but rather a freshman class that “seemed more enthusiastic about recruitment.”

“We haven’t done anything different than last year,” she said, but speculated that potential factors of the increase could be the larger number of students in this year’s freshman class and the fact that the Panhellenic Association made more of an effort to publicize rush.

Evans also stated that all sororities met their quota and that overall it was a “successful recruitment.”

“I rushed because recruitment itself looked like a fun new experience,” said freshman Emma Alperin, who ended up joining Gamma Phi Beta. The Gamma Phi Beta pledge class topped 30 this year, in comparison to 13 women in 2011.

Alperin said she “had no idea” what sorority she was interested in joining before recruitment, and therefore found the process “helpful” despite what she said is its reputation for being an “overwhelming, stressful and inefficient” process.

Alperin further speculated that the spike in interest this year could be due to hall unity.

“I think that recruitment is very hall oriented in that girls in all-girl halls tended to all start recruitment together, even if most dropped out at different times before the end,” she said. “The huge numbers probably either speak to greater hall unity in the freshman dorms or the simple explanation that there wasn’t much else going on that weekend.”

She believes that, as of late, many students have the perception that campus is “dead” on the weekends, rendering joining a sorority an attractive option for “a sure place to hang out, even if just for a movie night on the sorority floor.”

Other students, like freshman Jessica Cowan who pledged Chi Omega, always knew they wanted to be in a sorority.

“I can’t ever remember not wanting to join one because it always sounded like so much fun and like I would have the opportunity to have such a special and unique bond with other girls who share similar interests with me,” she said.

Cowan said she has heard a rumor that the Panhellenic Association is planning to add another chapter next year because of the increase in interest, but Smalls declined to comment on this.

Sophomore Alayna Callanan was not as gung-ho about the process.

“I had not planned on rushing until the week of, so I was very nervous and skeptical about the whole process,” she said, adding that although recruitment was “very different” from anything she has ever done, she is happy with her decision.

Callanan, who pledged Gamma Phi Beta, said she is unsure what the spike in interest could be attributed to, but speculated that perhaps the “forgiving” winter made students “more upbeat and outgoing and therefore willing to try something as crazy as recruitment.”

Sophomore Ningxue Jiang, who also pledged Gamma Phi Beta, said she thinks that this year’s numbers could be attributed to an increase in sophomores.

“I think more sophomores decided to rush because they wanted to be more involved,” she said.

Panhellenic Association would not disclose the breakdown of sophomores and freshmen in the 206 women of the pledge class. They would also not disclose the specific numbers of women in each pledge class in an professed effort to maintain the “Panhellenic spirit” of equality between sororities, Evans said, adding that numbers simply foster a sense of competition to see which sorority received the most pledges.

Buletti is a member of the class of 2013.

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