Recruitment sustains Greek Life in post-pandemic recovery

Greek Life members discuss negative stereotypes, informal recruitment



Acacia Recruitment Chair Owen Murray said Greek Life recruitment is essential for relationships between houses, Aug. 29.

FRANKIE BEER, Evergreen news editor

As formal recruitment for Greek Life came to a close last week and informal recruitment is underway, fraternities and sororities’ membership numbers are slowly bouncing back after the pandemic.

Sororities received 350 new members while fraternities received about 300, which is 100 more than last year. Transitioning from the pandemic, students are beginning to seek Greek Life to make connections and socialize without fearing for their health, said Owen Murray, Acacia recruitment chair and sophomore athletic training major on the pre-medicine track. 

While overall recruitment numbers have increased, Murray said, Acacia has received nine fewer new members so far compared to last year. The fraternity gained one new member through formal recruitment and four new members through continuous open bidding, which is the informal process, he said. This trend extends to a few other houses as well. 

“There are five people in a house right now,” he said. “It’s obviously not sustainable for them. It’s probably going to affect smaller houses like us first because if we can’t sustain a minimum requirement of numbers, we can’t be a house.”

The membership number of each house is crucial to forming relationships with other fraternities. Other houses will not want to “throw you” if the house has under 20 members, essentially removing the house from the Greek system, Murray said. 

It is also easier to draw in new members if the house membership is larger and more established. From a funding standpoint, he said fraternities that do not bring in enough members and money are “on the chopping block.”

“As less and less people become interested or involved in Greek Life, the more it’ll dim the entire community,” Murray said. 

Murray said he does not expect recruitment numbers to ever return to their pre-pandemic status of about 700-800 pledges. In 2019, sororities gained just over 1,000 new members, said Karolina Lynch, Panhellenic Council vice president of public relations and senior marketing and French double major.

Negative stereotypes about Greek Life in the WSU community may be another factor in lower, post-pandemic recruitment numbers, Murray said. 

During formal recruitment, which was supposed to be a dry week, there were five reports of houses giving out alcohol and one report of hazing. These reports typically garner little to no action from the Interfraternity Council, he said. 

“The whole idea that these other houses out here can still recruit members even though they have multiple cases of hazing, sexual assault, sexual allegations, anything like that … is wild,” he said. “Supposedly, we have this whole council in place that’s supposed to stop that from happening, and it doesn’t work.”

As for Lynch in her position on the Panhellenic Council, she hopes to fight these stereotypes from the inside, she said. 

Panhellenic President Hailey Palm is working on a drug resolution with the Pullman Police Department and the Pullman Regional Hospital, she said. The council also created a Greeks Take Action community  in February to spread awareness about sexual assault, and Laney Tiffany, vice president of equity and inclusion, created a bylaw discouraging hate speech that has been in effect since May.

To increase Acacia’s recruitment this fall and in the spring, the fraternity will host events at its house, table at the Compton Union Building and post on social media to gain interest from incoming students. These recruitment strategies are important to not only help Acacia but also Greek Life as a whole, Murray said.

As informal recruitment continues for about the next eight weeks, fraternities and sororities have the opportunity to gain new members who chose to not rush formally, he said. 

If chapters’ recruitment numbers are below the median of all chapters’ total recruitment, they are eligible for continuous open bidding, which levels the membership number of each chapter, Lynch said. There are currently seven sororities eligible for COB, but that number is subject to change. 

“We want to create an equal playing field for everybody and give other chapters a chance to recruit more girls,” she said. 

Instead of visiting each chapter and making a final decision on which house they fit into best, Lynch said students involved in COB can attend informal recruiting events at the house of their choice or meet members for coffee one-on-one. 

Although Murray said COB allows students and fraternities to take their time making their decisions, Lynch said new students would not be able to learn each house’s values and philanthropy efforts, determining which house will be their new home for the rest of their college career. 

“Yes it’s easier, but it’s just more of a game of chance, I’d say, compared to going through the [formal] process and finding your home and meeting all the girls,” she said. 

After coming out of her shell as an introverted student experiencing culture shock, Lynch would like to create other opportunities for students to gain as much from Greek Life as she did. 

“If I could go back in time, I would do the exact same thing over and over again because it got me to where I am. It got me people in my life that I would not give up for anything,” she said. “I’m hoping what the Greek community has done for me, I can do for other people too.”