January 13, 2010

Greek recruitment starts this week

This week, men and women at Knox will have the opportunity to explore Greek life during formal recruitment for fraternities and sororities.

Unlike many other institutions, the Knox Greek system defers formal recruitment until winter term.

“Deferred recruitment is much more thoughtful and holistic,” explained Dean Xavier Romano, who also serves as Greek advisor. “It’s all about fit—[asking oneself,] do I resonate with these personalities?”

Many colleges and universities choose to hold Greek recruitment in the first week or two of fall term. The combination of getting used to college life and the stress of recruitment is often overwhelming for freshman students. By deferring recruitment, Knox gives students a chance to find their place in the college environment.

“Your first term is a lot of adjustment,” said Vicky Romano, Panhellenic Council advisor. “By the end of it, you really know if you want to go through recruitment or not.”

Greek recruitment at Knox is also much more relaxed than at other institutions. Instead of a formalized party environment, fraternities and sororities focus on connecting with potential new members, having conversations, and conveying a sense of what Greek life is like.

“We don’t care what people are wearing. There are no suits. That’s just not Knox,” Dean Romano added. “A more formal recruitment would not be true to our culture.”

Fraternities host open houses to allow students to meet with members and get a sense of what each fraternity is about. Sorority recruitment involves a mixer and several “rounds” focusing on sisterhood and philanthropy. Throughout all recruitment events, the emphasis remains on finding a fit for each student—and it works.

“In all my years as Panhellenic advisor, every woman has gotten her first choice,” said Vicky Romano.

Recruitment at Knox is non-binding. If a student goes through the process and finds that the system is not what she thought it was, she is free to walk away.

“The key is not to overwhelm people but to provide an opportunity,” explained Dean Romano.

Overall, deferred recruitment presents fraternity and sorority membership as an enriching experience, not an activity that will overwhelm a member’s life.

“I think [deferred recruitment] puts the Greek system in its proper place as one of an array of co-curricular institutions at Knox,” Dean Romano said.

More Options For Women

This year, a familiar group will be participating in formal recruitment under a new name. After several years as a sorority colony, ATP has chosen to nationalize as Alpha Sigma Alpha. The Student Life Committee has unanimously supported ATP’s affiliation with ASA.

“ASA is very excited about ATP and Knox,” said Dean Romano. “The women of ATP are very excited [as well].”

ATP will still go through recruitment as ATP, the ASA national conference having realized that the transition from colony to full-fledged sorority would be nearly impossible in the days between the start of the term and the start of recruitment. Members will be initiated into ASA later in the year along with alumnae, including the founders of ATP.

“While there is undoubtedly a built-in threat in the planning process to become over anxious […] I’d say our chapter […] has accepted the challenge to maintain our cool rather than burn out,” said senior Paige Barnum, president of ATP. “It says more about the vitality and strength of our chapter to accept formal recruitment as a […] right-of-passage rather than something to brood or fret about.”

Barnum also emphasized the support ATP has received from other sororities on campus. “A woman of another sorority stopped to chat briefly [with a member of ATP] and in that passing wished our chapter the best of luck, earnestly expressing a faith in the potential of our women for the week and future,” she said.

With a student body that is 58% women, the former discrepancy between the number of sororities and fraternities at Knox made little sense to many students. ATP’s nationalization means there are now four national sororities on campus, compared to five national fraternities.

“Women are beginning to have the same social options as men have,” Dean Romano clarified. “There are really different communities [for them] to choose from. It feels good.”

Anna Meier

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