A nervous hum filled the TCF Bank Stadium on Tuesday as sorority women celebrated the end of recruitment at bid day. More than 280 women held their breath waiting to receive an invitation to join one of the 10 sororities on campus.
These women were all that remained of the 400 original candidates after a rigorous recruitment process that includes a computerized matching system.
“It’s very heavily mathematically oriented,” said Marissa Zakheim, vice president of public relations for the University of Minnesota’s Panhellenic Council.
Sophomore Samantha Tuttle waited all day to find out if she got into the sorority of her choice.
“I’m not so much excited as I am anxious,” she said.
At exactly 6:40 p.m., Kirsten Sherwood, PHC recruitment vice president, announced that the women could open their envelopes.
Excited screams echoed across the stadium as women hugged each other and rushed to join their chapters, waiting at the top of the stairs.
A Long and Mathematical Process
Unlike the informal fraternity method, sorority recruitment is designed by the National Panhellenic Conference to be a standardized process.
“Every sorority participating has the same amount of contact with a potential new member as the next one,” Zakheim said.
The idea is to keep the number of members even across every sorority on campus. Every sorority is also guaranteed a quota — this year every sorority was guaranteed at least 30 women. However, sororities are limited in how many women they can invite back to their chapters.
“It’s a big numbers game,” Zakheim said.
After the recruitment kicked off Sept. 5, the candidates were divided into 13 groups led by 52 Rho Alphas — sorority members taking a temporary leave from their chapters to lead the women through the long process.
First, the women toured all of the chapter houses on campus.
“It’s draining,” said sophomore Elizabeth Bianchi-Knod. “At every house you talk to three or four people. You have to remember everyone’s name and you have to come up with topics to talk about with every person.”
After the visits, the chapters invited back the women they liked best.
“It’s a mutual selection process,” Zakheim said. “They will tour up to seven houses. That doesn’t necessarily mean they will be asked back to seven houses.”
After two more visits — each time to fewer and fewer houses — the candidates got a final intimate look at the things the sororities consider “sacred,” like rituals.
“It was pretty moving,” Bianchi-Knod said. “It’s really different. You’re getting a look at something you’re not allowed to talk about. It’s not like anything I’ve been a part of.”
Throughout the week, some candidates dropped out, something that happens every year, Sherwood said.
“Some people decide it isn’t for them,” she said. “People will go through [the process] and realize they don’t have the financial means for it, or the time for it.”
After preference night — the final night of the process — roughly 285 women ranked their top choices in a computerized spreadsheet. Meanwhile, the sororities entered lists of the women they felt would best fit in their chapter.
The program then sorted the women into their new chapters. Women are not guaranteed to get into their top choice, and they sign a waiver stating that they will accept the bid they receive.
However, every woman who completes recruitment is guaranteed a bid.
“It’s not just a social experiment of who gets in and who doesn’t get in,” Zakheim said. “There’s a lot more to it than that.”
On bid day, held this year at the stadium, the women finally got to join their new chapters.
“It’s the day when all their hard work finally pays off,” said PHC President Meg McMurray.
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