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Greek Life maintains pledge class size amid pandemic

Despite factors leading to recruitment being largely online, Miami's pledge numbers have stayed consistent. Photo by Zach Reichman.
Despite factors leading to recruitment being largely online, Miami's pledge numbers have stayed consistent. Photo by Zach Reichman.

Miami University’s spring recruitment for fraternities and sororities garnered a similar number of students joining Greek Life compared to previous years before the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Our numbers were relatively the same,” said Kimberly Vance, director of the Cliff Alexander Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. “We had a slight dip in the men from 2020 to 2021, as far as accepted bids. But they still had more accepted bids than they did in 2019 … For the women, it was pretty similar.”

According to the Cliff Office, the numbers for recruitment among the Panhellenic Council and Interfraternity Council chapters were comparable to years past. 

In 2019, Miami saw 529 men and 891 women accept bids. In 2020, 620 men and 902 women accepted bids. This year, 564 men and 914 women joined chapters. 

Although plans for virtual recruitment began months ago, there were some concerns among fraternity and sorority members leading up to the process. 

Sophomore biology and pre-med student Hayley Zimbric, a member of Phi Mu, assisted with the recruitment for her sorority. 

“I thought recruitment could go either way,” Zimbric said. “Everything got moved online, so it was [a lot of work] making sure that every girl that came in had somebody to talk to.”

Zimbric said the process was time consuming for the sorority, as it involved a lot of transitioning paper documents to a digital format. 

She said some recruitment events, including sisterhood events and a small social, were able to meet social distancing requirements and still occur in person. However, the interviews were all conducted over Zoom. 

“I definitely feel like it was a little different and harder to connect with people over Zoom,” Zimbric said, “but I know it’s worked out really well.”

Second-year finance and accounting student Ben Peterson, vice president of recruitment for Beta Theta Pi, echoed this sentiment. 

“I think it went really well, especially considering the circumstances and expectations we kind of had as a chapter,” Peterson said. “We had good expectations, but we were also figured to be a little bit of a down year. But frankly, it was just as good if not better than most years.” 

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Although the recruitment numbers for Miami’s National Pan-Hellenic Council chapter intake processes are not yet available, Vance said many chapters are finding solutions to adjusting the rigorous process to be virtual. 

Although Peterson, Vance and Zimbric voiced concerns about trouble connecting without face-to-face interaction, very few students filed complaints. 

First-year sports leadership and management major Jackson Granger participated in the recruitment process this spring. 

“I think that overall I was impressed with how well it was put together and how well they were able to pull off rushing when really there's a lot of things you couldn't do because of COVID,” Granger said. 

Looking toward the future, Vance, Peterson and Zimbric all spoke to lessons learned from this year. In addition to the virtual recruitment process being more accessible to students not on campus, the online programming proved what was possible. 

“I think it'll allow us to just be more adaptable,” Peterson said. “It definitely challenged us in a way that I don't think we've ever been challenged. I don't think recruitment has ever been virtual in any sense. I think it just put us to the test and forced us to change plans on a dime and use different platforms to communicate to people in different ways. And I think we did adapt to that, and that's why we do get a strong pledge class this year despite circumstances.” 

coxaj4@miamioh.edu 

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