What’s the Rush of Emotions?

By Alyssa Porrino

According to previous research freshman year (first year) is the most difficult year of college for many people. Imagine adding lack of sleep, class work, being constantly peppy on top of attending classes every day and extracurricular activities.

This is exactly what many freshman women deal with for one week at the end of September when they go through sorority recruitment.

Potential new members smile back at sorority members after leaving their first party of the night.

The women going through formal recruitment were informed by their respective Rho Gammas—recruitment counselor—that they should spend the weekend prior to recruitment  completing any assignments due during the week and studying for any test scheduled during that time.

Assistant Director of Student Solutions Amy Salley says that it is important that students find a niche in college.

“Students need to get connected,” Salley said. “Find where [they] belong. It helps to have friends and family when students are feeling homesick.”

The members of Panhellenic stress the importance of academics during the week of recruitment in such ways as placing it in the Panhellenic code of conduct and having each active sorority member sign a class attendance agreement.

However, if academic life is truly a primary concern for the Greek community, scheduling recruitment during the week before midterms has raised some of the eyebrows of Florida Southern staff and students.

“It’s almost like a game of catch up,” Isabel Taeger said, member of Alpha Omicron Pi. “We set up everyday around three or four and then we are up until at least one. At that point no one has the energy to do homework or wake up for classes.”

Scheduling recruitment for five out of seven days of the week also causes stress among Greek organization members and the women going through recruitment because of time conflicts. Students are forced to choose between attending a Greek function or attend class.

“I don’t actually have any classes at night so that worked out well,” Natalie Alemen, FSC freshmen said. “But a lot of girls were nervous about missing any of the events since it can influence whether you are invited back to another night of recruitment.”

Even when these freshmen women attend class their mind is still focused on the upcoming recruitment events rather than on what is happening in their classroom.

“I don’t really know what we’ve been doing in class this week,” Aleman said. “All I want is for the end of the week to hurry up. I want my bid.”

The women participating in FSC’s recruitment process also had to find time to eat before each night of recruitment as there would either be no food or very little snack foods. During the week the first night of recruitment was known as a “water glass” night which meant that each organization could only provide water for the girls; no food or juice.

As the first night of recruitment ran from 4:45 p.m. until a little after 10 p.m. it was a struggle for many girls to find the time to eat.

“We weren’t fed the first night but at the last night we were,” Aleman said. “The first night was the worst. Everyone was dying by the end of it. One of the parties had strawberries on the cups; everyone tried to eat them.”

While many women seem fine with the idea of pushing academics to the side during recruitment when they receive tests and grades back the following week many of them come to find that they may need extra help with academics.

Salley says a lot of students come into Student Solutions about help with transitioning into college and extra academic help. She tells them that the key is balance and time management.

“Students need to understand how to not over commit themselves. When they come in and they seem overwhelmed we look at everything they are doing and determine if some things can be cut,” Salley said. “The important thing is to have ‘me’  and free time in school.”

Alemen said that she was not preoccupied with figuring out what to wear or how her hair should look for the night—she had all her outfits planned weeks ago—but rather in determining what it is she wanted from a sorority. Where she would fit best and could see herself being happy for the rest of her life.

Courtney Muckerson smiles as she prepares to open her invitation to preference night.

“It’s a big commitment financially, socially and time-wise and things change every night,” Aleman said. “Before [recruitment] started there was one sorority I was positive I wanted. But the nights go on and you connect with different people and houses. It gets confusing and you can only pick one of them.”

According to Salley a lot of school stress comes from lack of organization and planning a head.

“All year we offer time management assessments and worksheets. But a lot of the time it is talking through each situation with the student. It’s all individual. No two students are ever having the same experiences,” Salley said.

The entire week is based on sorority women trying to make a great impression on potential new members in hopes that the new women will want to become a part of their organization.

Every night was generally emotional for all of the women going through recruitment. After the recruitment events were over they had to begin ranking sororities from their least favorite to the chapter they liked the most.

A tough decision to make after only meeting a few sorority women a night for 30 minutes to an hour.

When it was time for many of them to pick up their invitations to the next round of events some women were left highly disappointed with the results and dropped out of recruitment immediately. Alemen was one of the fortunate women to be invited back to their top choices.

“I got my top two houses,” Aleman said. “I really want Kappa Delta. I loved that they were really real and seemed relaxed and chill.”

As the week went on Alemen said her opinions of all of the chapters she visited changed drastically. She said that one of the houses she initially wanted to join did not give off the best impression because what they claimed their values were did not connect with their attitudes, how they acted or the things they said.

When she picked up her invitations for the last night of recruitment Aleman was invited back to her top two houses. Although she considers preference night to be the most important night of recruitment, Aleman was unable to attend it due to training at her new job.

Rho Gammas Kelsey Ford and Carlene Fogle-Miller tear up after seeing women get excited after picking up their preference night invitations.

“I’m always nervous when it comes time to pick up the invites,” Aleman said. “You never know if you really got along with the women or if they’ll invite you back.”

If students begin to feel stretched too thin Salley suggests they schedule an appointment with the Counseling Center for assistance.

“Talking always helps [with stress]. The Counseling Center offers several programs including meditation,” Salley said.

Before formal recruitment started Kelsey Ford, vice president of Panhellenic, held a kick-off event for all of the women. She had each girl going through recruitment determine what their top three values were.

Natalie had no problem choosing hers: family, friendship, faith.

“I felt like every other value was just a part of them,” Aleman said. “Friendship is very big. Family helps you through everything and faith is the basis of my life.”

Ford used these values to remind women of what they were looking for in a “home.”

“It’ll help keep them balanced and remind them of who they are or want to be,” Ford said.

Aleman believed it was a good idea because it kept some stress away.

“You are always reminded of what you believe in and you can compare it to what the sorority women say they believe in,” Aleman said.

Related links:

More on Natalie

FSC Greek Life

FSC Student Solutions

FSC Counseling Center

More on Panhellenic