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Rho Gammas at Miami to represent sorority, give up anonymity

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N0216 Campus Buildings

By Lauren Oliver, For The Miami Student

Breaking tradition, Miami University, along with other schools around the nation, is now allowing Rho Gammas to wear their sorority letters around campus.

A Rho Gamma is an active member of a sorority who aids potential new members in the recruitment process. They answer questions and guide the potential new members through all recruitment events, but are disaffiliated from their sorority to remain impartial and unbiased throughout the process.

In the past, that meant removing all proof of affiliation. For the academic year, Rho Gammas would hide their Facebook photos, retire any clothing with their sorority letters and refrain from attending their sorority's recruitment events.

But in 2014, the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC) decided it was time to allow the recruitment guides to sport their sorority letters, and began promoting the change across the country. Miami's Panhellenic chapter voted on and passed the new rule last spring, allowing the Rho Gammas to remain affiliated.

Corinne Gilardi, vice president of recruitment for Miami's Panhellenic Association, said the change was bound to happen, as most potential new members usually found out what chapter each Rho Gamma was from anyway.

Allison Kumnick, a junior Rho Gamma for the upcoming spring recruitment process, said they are not abandoning all of the old guidelines. Panhellenic has carefully instructed Rho Gammas on how to approach their affiliation with potential new members.

For instance, Rho Gammas are discouraged from introducing themselves by their affiliation. Rather, they can reveal it to potential new members when directly asked.

And, Rho Gammas can wear their letters around campus, but not to meetings with potential new members or during the recruitment process. In this way, Panhellenic wants the Rho Gammas to be transparent about their affiliation without inadvertently recruiting girls for their own sororities.

There are other nuanced rules, too, like Rho Gammas having stickers on computers, being pictured in a sorority's recruitment video and expressing affiliation on social media. For all of these situations, Panhellenic maintains the same general practice: don't hide it, but don't flash it, either.

In this way, Panhellenic is trying to strike a balance between the old rule and the new rule.

Still, there is some dissent over the switch. Some students think allowing Rho Gammas to wear their letters will have a negative impact on potential new members.

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Molly Sweeney, a member of Greek life, believes it is an easy time for first-year women to be influenced.

"I think it's better if Rho Gammas don't wear their letters, because they're supposed to help guide freshmen through the process and not put any impressions on them," she said. "I think it's best to go into rush with an open mind and not any preconceived notions."

Gilardi said Panhellenic has been doing everything it can to avoid these concerns.

"Panhellenic is taking all precautions necessary to ensure that Rho Gammas are unbiased about each chapter," she said. "The Rho Gammas [are there] to help potential new members find their place in whatever sorority is best for them."

Darinka Sutic, president of Miami's Panhellenic Association, agreed with Gilardi and believes it will bring positive change.

"I believe the significance is the fact that we are pushing a unified community from the beginning of the recruitment process," Sutic said. "Rho Gammas are wearing their letters, but the reason they have those positions is because they want potential new members to go Greek and join the community - no matter the organization."

Katie Czosek, another Greek life member, finds no fault in the new arrangement.

"It doesn't really matter because most people won't remember girls they see in their letters when they're going through rush," she said.

If the change does not fit Miami's community, it can be voted upon and changed during council meetings, but for now it is the new policy for formal sorority recruitment.