In past years, the first two weekends of the spring semester have been marked by hoards of women dressed to perfection, running around campus filled with nerves and meeting lots of people in a short amount of time.
They change from their heels to more comfortable shoes to walk to their next destination, but at the end of the day, their feet still hurt. The little downtime they have is spent rushing to eat a meal or catch up on the week’s homework.
It’s an exhausting process, but the end goal is what makes it all worth it: Bid Day.
More than 1,000 women at Miami go through Panhellenic recruitment every spring semester. This semester is no different in that regard, but the recruitment process looks different.
Due to COVID-19 and the safety regulations it brings with it, large gatherings are no longer part of our everyday lives. This semester’s formal Panhellenic recruitment will be held virtually.
Junior geography major Ally Borkowski says her sorority, Chi Omega, has done workshops to help them prepare for recruitment.
“We had a lot of training sessions on how to use Zoom and how to use the Zoom breakout functions to have one-on-one conversations with [potential new members],” Borkowski said. “I think it’s been a learning experience for everyone, and I think it will continue to be. I think it’ll get easier with each round as everyone gets more comfortable with it.”
Potential new members (PNMs) go through four rounds of recruitment: Welcome Round, Philanthropy Round, Sisterhood Round and Preference Round.
Typically, PNMs would meet with all 19 of Miami’s sororities during Welcome Round and have conversations with members of each chapter. Because this is the largest round, it’s been affected the most.
This year, PNMs submitted essay and video responses to prompts along with their registration. They answered prompts such as “Tell us about yourself” and “Why are you going Greek?” for chapters to get to know them.
On the other side, each sorority made a welcome video for PNMs to watch during the first round rather than getting to tell them about their chapter in person. The other three rounds will be held live over Zoom calls, so PNMs and members can have candid conversations.
To junior middle childhood education major Abby Stephenson, who is also in Chi Omega, the conversations are the most important part of recruitment.
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“The biggest part of recruiting is just having great conversations with lots of new women and learning about why they’re interested in going Greek and what they want out of the Greek community,” she said. “I don’t think that the conversations will lack anything being virtual. I think that that will pretty much carry over as if it were in person.”
Stephenson also thinks virtual recruitment has its own benefits for both the PNMs and chapter members, including shorter days and going through the process from your own space.
Borkowski also recognizes that virtual recruitment has its pros and cons.
“I think it’ll be a lot more personal and the conversations have the potential to be a lot more focused,” she said. “But I also think there is kind of a downside [for the PNMs] because you’re not talking to as many [members] and you’re not physically there to feel the vibes of the chapter.”
Recruitment will be the newest addition to a long list of virtual events that have happened in the past year. Last March, sophomore Kylie Goudy’s big/little reveal for Alpha Xi Delta was held online.
“We were notified that we would be sent home that week … so we had to do [our big little week] online,” Goudy said. “It made me sad in the moment because I’d never experienced anything like that, and I feel like everyone was kinda confused. But that was the first time I knew that things would be different.”
Although her first year with her sorority was not what she expected, Goudy was still able to connect with her sisters.
“The one thing that I was worried about was, ‘Am I going to be able to make connections still?’ but [being remote] didn’t alter that whatsoever,” she said. “It made me have closer bonds with a lot of people because we’re all in the same situation.”
Chapters responded to being sent home last March by trying to host as many virtual events as possible in order to keep their connections strong. In addition to weekly chapter meetings, they held many sisterhood events like virtual game nights, movie nights, yoga sessions and study sessions.
“I think that offering as many events as possible to get that community feel despite being off campus still allowed all of our new members to feel like they were a part of Chi Omega,” Stephenson said.
Virtual events continued throughout the fall semester and will likely continue throughout this semester, as well. But Borkowski, Stephenson and Goudy agree that, although not in person, they’re able to keep strong relationships with their sorority, even the new members.
“There’s gonna be kinks and quirks and things that don’t always go right, but I think that this can be a really great experience for everybody if we all take the time to work together and have an open mind about everything,” Borkowski said. “I think that recruitment can still be as effective and people can still find their homes on campus.”