By UO student Chelsea Fullmer
Alpha, Beta, Chi, Delta, Epsilon. Most people would simply recognize these words from the Greek alphabet. But put them together in varying combinations and they produce the sororities and fraternities that are seen throughout the Greek system in U.S. colleges, including the UO. With 10 sororities and 16 fraternities on campus, members of these houses gear up for the arrival of the class of 2017 and recruitment season.
Each year, freshmen are looking for a niche within a strange and unfamiliar environment. Some look to join a club sport, some run for ASUO positions, and some seek volunteer opportunities. With moving into the residence halls, getting to know new people, and becoming familiar with campus, coming to college for the first time can prove overwhelming.
The Greek system at the UO is an opportunity for new students to get involved on campus and immerse themselves into the college culture. Greek life is growing and changing at the UO with new chapters, rising GPA’s – the overall Greek women’s GPA average is higher than the overall women’s GPA average on campus – and a new Director of Fraternity and Sorority Life Justin Shukas. With changes and new installments, FSL gets prepared for recruitment happening at the beginning of fall term as freshmen are just arriving to campus and starting classes.
“Coming in as a freshman, sometimes it can be really difficult to make friends or find a good group of people with common interests. If you at least go through the recruitment process, you have an opportunity to meet different people, to learn about their different interest and to maybe find something you can connect to,” said Panhellenic Vice President of Membership and senior Gamma Phi Beta member, Emily Duncan.
While sorority and fraternity recruitment processes are vastly different, both still strive to get new students involved and find new members to join an active and growing community at the UO. From meet-and-greets to house tours, recruitment allows interested students to learn more about the Greek system and the various houses, and choose one that best fits their interest and personality.
For sororities, a scheduled recruitment schedule across six days walks an expected 850 freshman girls through the various aspects of joining a sorority. The first three days include open houses of the 10 sororities, a casual meeting opportunity for members of the sororities to get to know the potential recruits and vice versa. On day four, recruits return to up to eight houses for “Philanthropy Day” where they are shown informational videos about individual sorority service projects and main philanthropic efforts.
Day five consists of in-depth house tours where the girls are able to see past the common area of up to six sororities of their choosing. They are allowed to see bedrooms, study rooms, and sleeping porches to continue their quest on finding the sorority of choice.
“It’s where you can ask yourself ‘can I see myself in my PJs in the common room?’” said Duncan about house tour day. Since most girls live inside the sorority house for at least a year, it is important to find a comfortable living environment.
From there comes “Preference Night,” the final night and a formal event in which girls are invited back to three sororities for an intimate ceremony to learn about individual traditions and ultimately choose their sorority of choice. After this “emotional” night, recruits await bids from their favorite houses and soon become part of a brand new community.
Fraternities, in the meantime, go through their very own recruitment process, beginning with a “Fraternity Kick-off” the first Friday of classes. New this year, the kick-off gathers all fraternities in the EMU Amphitheater and Fishbowl. Interested male students meet representatives from the 16 fraternities, receive recruitment schedules and general information about each fraternity, and schedule which chapter’s recruitment activities they are interested in attending.
Interested recruits also get a chance to visit varying houses on “house tour” day. Although difficult to get around to 16 different houses and clubhouses (for some fraternities don’t obtain livable houses), this day gives them a chance to interact more with gentlemen from each house and seeing potential living digs.
From there, individualized recruitment events for each chapter are hosted across several weeks before formal dinners and bids are given to recruits. Chapter events include barbeques, watching parties, Spencer Butte hiking, and basketball games.
At the end of all this socializing, touring, and getting to know a vast amount of people, a new pledge class is welcomed into the Greek community as they begin chapter meetings, social events, philanthropy events and making lifelong friends. Even if Greek life isn’t the right fit for all new students, there are still many ways to be involved on campus and find a community.
“I really just hope that these freshmen will do whatever it takes to get involved with anything on campus whether it’s a club sport, if it’s volunteering, if it’s a job on campus, or campaigning with the ASUO. You just have to be brave enough to get involved with one thing. So I hope that this incoming class will be able to do that,” said Duncan.