Yale Daily News
A record number of students participated in Yale’s Four Pan-Hellenic Sisterhood Rush Process, which was held virtually for the second year in a row.
The emergency process, which ended Monday evening, went live in early January due to COVID-19 restrictions, posing additional challenges for potential members in a process that relies on establishing connections. According to Yale Panhellenic Council President Isabella Hay ’24, 181 of the 278 potential new members who signed up for the recruiting process were offered offers by one of Yale’s four sorority chapters – Alpha Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi. .
“This pool of potential new members was almost triple the number of potential new members during last year’s recruitment, and it even exceeded the number of [potential new members] of the last in-person recruitment held two years ago,” Hay wrote in an email to the News. “I think the number of people rushing in has definitely made the process a lot more difficult to manage from an organizational perspective – panhel and the recruiting teams have all seen a lot of late nights over the past week trying to coordinate everything .”
Most of the attendees were members of the Class of 2025, Yale’s largest class in recent history, which may partly explain the spike in spike numbers this year.
The record number of participants in the emergency process “raised the nerves a bit,” Hay told the News, explaining that she had received many more questions from potential new members, or PNMs, this year about the difficulty of receiving an offer.
However, Trisha Victor ’23, Vice President of Administration for the Panhellenic Council, explained that the sororities adjust the number of offers they make based on the number of potential new members, so the process is not not necessarily more competitive than in previous years.
The decision to move recruiting online came in early January, during the first meeting of the newly elected Panhellenic Council, which oversees the emergency process. Although Hay told the News that the Panhellenic Council had tentatively expected an in-person recruitment process starting in November, that decision was never “set in stone.”
Victor told the News that the board considered holding subsequent, smaller recruitment rounds in-person, but ultimately opted to transition the entire process online in response to the University’s COVID-19 guidelines. and the high number of potential new members.
Last year’s sorority recruiting was moved online in large part because the majority of potential new members are typically first-years, who weren’t housed on campus last spring. Previous experience with how virtual recruiting works made going online a “relatively smooth transition,” Hay said.
“An unexpected benefit was that I think a rush to the internet improved accessibility to recruitment,” Hay wrote. “We were able to manage a lot more conflicts because PNMs could just log into their computers instead of randomly going to a building on campus. It also saved PNMs from having to walk from party to party during the New Haven winter, which is always a plus!
For Dorothea Robertson ’25, who participated in the recruiting process, the virtual format also alleviated some of the anxiety associated with the emergency process.
“I could sit in my dorm, comfortable and relaxed,” Robertson said. “There was a lot less pressure on what outfit I wore, what brand of sneakers I wore and how much jewelry I wore.”
The virtual nature of the process, however, came with drawbacks that some said made the recruiting process particularly taxing.
Last year’s virtual recruiting, Victor told the News, showed organizers the importance of factoring in extra time throughout the process for technical difficulties and Zoom interruptions. The extra time, however, extended the length of each round, meaning sorority members and rushed participants had to spend up to seven and a half hours online during each of the three rounds of the process, in meetings that often ended only after midnight. .
“We just had to schedule time for it to be less brutal for everyone involved, and that normally shouldn’t have happened,” Victor said. “I think the members weren’t particularly happy with how long it took, but I think those decisions, like adding extra time, were necessary, even if they weren’t easy to swallow.”
“Parties” hosted on Zoom during the three rounds of the process would typically be held at sorority houses or other campus buildings. But otherwise, Hay told the News, the parties were unchanged — potential new members had one-on-one conversations with members, listened to speeches and watched presentations.
A concern throughout the process for rush organizers was the challenge of connecting with potential new members and passing on the sorority community through virtual meetings.
“I personally am someone who finds it difficult to have natural conversations and connect with people, especially new ones, on Zoom – because of this I was worried it would be more difficult for PNMs and chapters to engage with each other,” Hay told the News.
Robertson said the online component made it harder to connect with individual members or understand the differences between Yale’s four sororities.
Sofia Verich ’25, who participated in the emergency process, echoed that sentiment, suggesting that the process being virtual meant that potential new members missed really knowing the sorority members they were speaking with via Zoom.
“I wish I could meet or at least see more people because a computer screen is not the same as face-to-face interaction,” Verich said. “It’s hard to communicate your personality on the computer.”
Grace Albright ’25, another participant in the emergency process, told The News that while she would have preferred to meet the members in person, countless zooms over the past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have made her prepared to meet new people online while rushing Yale sororities. .
While Albright praised both active and prospective members for stepping up their energy during the process to make up for what was lost in the virtual format, she still underscored the difficult nature of the process.
“I would argue that what distinguishes a remote peak experience from an in-person experience would be the energy in the ‘room’, physical or virtual,” Albright said. “I imagine the energy when recruiting in person is almost palpable. Without a doubt, Zoom can feel like an energy vacuum, especially after five hours of distance learning.
Victor told the News that she spoke to several people who signed up for the recruiting process but ultimately decided to drop out, citing the virtual format as the reason.
Many of those students, Victor explained, planned instead to pursue ongoing open bidding, a process by which prospective members can join sororities later in the year.
“Even if they wanted to join a sorority, the reasoning I heard time and time again was that they felt the virtual rush didn’t really give them enough choice to get to know sororities the way they would have wanted,” Victor said. “So they intended to do [continuous open bidding] instead, they might have a better chance of talking to them a bit longer and not just having three-minute conversations in breakout rooms.
The recruitment process took place between 27 and 31 January.