Fraternities and sororities look to recruit new members mid-year

At an event Monday, both fraternities and sororities will be looking to recruit new members.

Meet the Greeks, an informal, introduction to Greek life, will take place Monday in Mary Gates Hall. The event may mean more for campus fraternities, who currently have an average of 55 members, a figure that has remained fairly constant for the last several years.

Cody Saben, Interfraternity Council (IFC) Vice President of Recruitment, said any lack of an increase for fraternity members could be related to the UW’s enrollment shake-ups.

“The increase in out-of-state students has definitely rocked fraternity life to a certain extent, just because we haven’t completely been able to change the way we recruit in order to facilitate it as much as we can,” Saben said. “That’s the biggest focus for myself this year, in terms of recruitment … [to] get some events together pointed more towards out-of-state [students].”

Sororities as a whole have seen an increase in membership and now have an average of 109 women per chapter.

“I think it’s a very accurate reflection of how strong our Greek presence is here on campus,” said Holly Knowles, vice president of recruitment development for Panhellenic.

Saben said the imbalance could also be attributed to the difference between the fraternities’ informal rush and sororities’ formal rush.

“Because our rush goes all year it leads to people kind of putting it off and thinking that they can do it later,” he said. “Whereas with sorority rush, they have one week where they can do it, and it’s either yes or no.”

One of Saben’s own goals this year with fraternity recruitment events is to narrow a wide gap in chapter sizes. Unlike sororities, where all 17 chapters have roughly the same number of members, the 32 fraternities on campus vary in size from as few as 17 members to as many as 105.

“I’m kind of trying to level the playing field for some of the fraternities that are struggling to get off of the ground,” he said. “There are some that have a lot of great things to offer but haven’t built up that momentum necessarily to get new membership improving. I’m trying to help the little guys out and to help them do well this year.”

The set-up of the Meet the Greeks event will look much like a “mini science fair,” said Saben. Members from participating houses will stand behind tables lining the hall, come ready to answer questions and provide prospects with ample amounts of information. While the event was created with incoming transfer students in mind, Saben said any student with an interest is invited to drop by.

“It will be simple and very informal, but hopefully we will kind of give anyone with an interest a quick glimpse of the Greek System and how it operates,” he said.

Each fall, a Meet the Greeks event occurs as a part of Dawg Daze festivities, but Monday’s event marks the first time it will occur during winter quarter.

Saben said he hopes to bring in new members this year through other Greek events, including philanthropies and membership drive.

The Greek community holds other recruitment activities throughout the year, including Greek Preview — a large, open-house event geared mainly toward incoming freshman, that takes place during spring quarter. All are in addition to primary recruitment, which for sororities, takes place just before the start of fall quarter.

“Everything we do can be shifted or attributed in some way to bring in new members,” Saben said. “That’s really the bloodline of what we do.”

Although recruitment hasn’t decreased, Aaron Hsieh, IFC vice president of public relations, said it is harder to raise fraternity numbers.

”We had a really low rush signing this year because a lot of students were coming from out of state,” he said. “They don’t really have the chance to come a couple weeks earlier … not a lot of guys are looking at rushing as of now.”

Alex Faulkner, vice president of recruitment for Sigma Phi Epsilon, said that his chapter of 88 men would be pleased to gain at least one to two new members from Monday’s event.

“For someone who hasn’t rushed into the Greek System before, the biggest incentive to attend is the opportunity to see what the Greek life is all about,” he said. “It’s a really simple way to get in contact with a house that you think might suit you.”

Reach reporter Kirsten Johnson at news@dailyuw.com.

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