EPC Responds to ‘Sorority Recruitment Disempowers Women’

Emory Panhellenic Council (EPC) takes the claims outlined in The Emory Wheel’s most recent staff editorial “Sorority Recruitment Disempowers Women” extremely seriously. We believe in the community of care that EPC cultivates and the positive experience of our Panhellenic women. As such, we would like to take the time to address, contextualize and correct some of the misconceptions outlined in this piece.

EPC works tirelessly to streamline and refine the Recruitment process and admit that Panhellenic Recruitment, as with any student-run organization on campus, is not perfect. As incoming EPC President Olivia Czufin wrote to the Wheel in “Greek Organizations Welcome New Members,” recruitment, “is continuously evolving and improving, and will continue to do so next year.”

In an effort to respond to the sweeping allegations presented in the article, we have grouped the claims into six major categories: strictness, exclusion, economic stratification, superficiality, emotional toll and degradation of gender roles.

First, the article accuses EPC of being unnecessarily strict, taking away phones, not allowing them to talk to one another and enforcing strict silence. These rules are specifically in place in order to make the process as free from pressure, stress and influence for members of the community. With these guidelines, we aim to foster as individualized and uninfluenced an experience as possible. Many potential new members (PNMs) can be swayed by an experience that is not their own, perhaps causing them to make a choice that is not best for them. These rules help the women make the best decision possible.

Additionally the Wheel mentions herding the women into lines and yelling at them. First, we take issue with the article’s word choice, which implies that the women are treated like animals. With over 500 women participating in the recruitment process, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to organize the women, communicate attendance and relay important information. Often times a megaphone is necessary to ensure that all pertinent information reaches 500 women in an outdoor environment with many distractions. Much the same way a coach communicates loudly with his or her athletes who need imperative instructions and information.

The Wheel also made several strong accusations regarding EPC’s allegedly exclusionary policies. The Wheel’s claim implying that Panhellenic is racist is ill-researched and most obviously disproved by the diversity in Panhellenic leadership, mirrored in each individual chapter. The selection of women is based off of a multitude of factors, none of which include race. We maintain a non-discriminatory policy and any individual who identifies as a woman is welcome to participate in recruitment.

Similarly, the Wheel insinuated that EPC celebrated heteronormativity while excluding individuals identifying as transgender or LGBT. Empirically, EPC has never excluded someone from the recruitment process based on identity, making this claim unfounded and offensive. More specifically, the Wheel articulates that excluding “boys” (one of the five B’s) from conversations of recruitment also inherently excludes the LGBT community. What the Wheel fails to address is that the “5 Bs” are merely an easy way to remember broader themes to stay away from, with boys representing relationships. Just as “Barack” does not only mean ‘do to talk about the current president’, using the word boys in an acronym does not imply a discriminatory policy against gender preference.

Finally, the Wheel makes several claims surrounding the ambiguity of the selection process and PNM placement. While selection processes vary by each chapter’s national policy, EPC employs software that ensures a mutual selection process, weighing the PNM’s input as well as the input of our campus’ chapter’s yielding an outcome that is a function both of recruiter and recruitee. Conversations that the women have during recruitment are unequivocally the most important factor in the process, similar in form to a job interview wherein a recruiter is seeking to understand fit of a potential candidate or the Wheel, for example, is seeking to understand fit of a potential new member of its staff.

The Wheel’s next attack focused on recruitment as economically stratifying. The registration fee is necessary to purchase each PNM a shirt and provide them with food and drinks during the process, ensuring that they are comfortable during the long days. The accusation resolves itself within the Wheel’s own article: the registration fee that may place financial stress on some women can be waived at the PNM’s request.

EPC also recognizes the financial burden of joining a Greek organization. EPC maintains full transparency regarding this commitment, constantly informing PNMs of the range and average of our chapter’s dues. Each sorority’s dues are not released to help PNMs make the best choice based on the chapter where they feel most comfortable.

If a PNM becomes an initiated member and realizes she cannot finance her dues, she has many options. EPC strives to relieve the financial commitment set by individual national organizations by offering scholarships each semester, awarded through a blind application process. This scholarship program, launched this year, was in direct response to feedback from the EPC community. Additionally, each chapter also offers scholarships and payment plans so they can fully accommodate members, including women of all economic backgrounds.

The Wheel’s final economic complaint was that women are forced to purchase new clothing for recruitment. This is simply untrue. Chapters welcome women with all different styles and quite frankly, would have no way to know whether a PNM’s clothes were new or old, a point communicated to the PNMs prior to recruitment. Women are encouraged to present their best self, just as they would in an interview to give the best first-impression

The next major topic was superficiality. While the conversations actually last longer than five minutes, this brevity is necessary in order to maximize the number of sisters a PNM can meet, giving her a better window into the organization. As the recruitment process continues, conversations are lengthened in order to allow for more in-depth discussions with members, absolving any problems with superficiality.

The Wheel trivializes the emotional experience that a PNM can undergo during the recruitment process, failing to recognize that a sorority is a lifelong commitment. In order to properly prepare, EPC introduced a new partnership with Counseling and Psychological Services in order to properly train their Pi Chi Recruitment Counselors through several training sessions. This training, coupled with the assistance of on-site Campus Life Professionals, allowed EPC to be fully equipped for any situation that might arise.

Finally, the Wheel insinuates that the EPC recruitment process reinforces degrading gender roles. EPC offers suggestions and guidelines, the “5 Bs”, to initially abstain from engaging in conversations, which might alienate or make any participant uncomfortable or unintentionally insulted. In no way do these guidelines aim to propagate inequitable gender norms. These guidelines help PNMs (in a sorority as well as a fraternity recruitment setting) feel comfortable, a priority for EPC and our chapters. This should not later become an issue, as Panhellenic women, like the Emory community, are accepting of diversity and open dialogue.

In conclusion, we recognize the Wheel’s concerns. EPC is always open to criticism, feedback and suggestions, yet is disappointed in the medium the Wheel has chosen to express their unresearched and unsubstantiated opinions. EPC encourages the Wheel to strive to facilitate productive discussions while also reporting on the innumerable positive aspects of our community. EPC resolutely supports its recruitment process, our new members and the extraordinary contributions made by the Panhellenic women in our community.​

— By Emory Panhellenic Council

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9 comments

  1. The Truth 4 years ago

    The problem with this article is that it conveys intents, not results. For example, it sounds great to say that women don’t HAVE to buy new clothes for the round, but honestly it’s implied- even as a guy, I know that. Same with race- nobody wants to admit they picked a girl because they look, talk, and dress like you, but it happens. You can be better, and writing stuff like this doesn’t encourage a dialogue, it shuts it down.

    1. Lilly 4 years ago

      But some of the major issues with recruitment is the judgement of women (which is inherent – psychologically we all judge items and people within seconds of meeting them) and the impersonal way those girls must go through recruitment. Idealistically it would be wonderful to have each girl choose a day and have a casual interview. But with 500+ girls its not efficient. The intent of EPC is to have an efficient way for women to get into the right sorority without being swayed by stereotypes and other opinions. But the problems you are picking out are cultural problems which was never fully addressed in the original Wheel editorial and cannot be changed by EPC or any of the sororities.

    2. Anon 4 years ago

      What shuts down the conversation is an attack driven article full of gross inaccuracies that are dressed up and masqueraded around as facts. Journalists have a duty to their reader and in the original article, the writer did not even come close to discharging this duty. In that way, the original article was not only an injustice to every woman who went through recruitment but also any who read that article.
      Sure, there are issues in the process. No sorority woman would ever pretend differently and honestly, how is something ever going to be perfect in an imperfect world? The important part is that those issues are not going to be fixed by an article unless the article accurately identifies those issues.

      1. Name 4 years ago

        Two things: 1) If you take issue with what you see as an apparently common misconception, then an article which speaks from the point of view of the misconception-holders is equally as necessary as the article that clears up the misconceptions. Without the first article, they would just go unchecked, having the misconception and looking down on Greek life as a result of it, which is counter-productive. 2) An “attack”–I don’t actually think that’s a fair term, but whatever–on an institution or on the implicit assumptions of an institution is not the same as an attack on a person, so there’s no reason to take it personally. Everyone involved in the scenario here, the Wheel author and the EPC, wants the best for everyone else, so making personal attacks on the journalist and implying they had maleficent intentions is equally as unfair and disrespectful as the sleight you’ve perceived. I think you’ve accidentally strayed into hypocrisy there.

        1. Anon 4 years ago

          1. I don’t have a problem with the misconception and I don’t find it to be common. I never felt pressured. I don’t know anyone that felt pressured, but I do know plenty of people who wore clothes that they already owned without thinking twice. If a PNM reads another meaning into the dress code then that is unfortunate and should be addressed.
          However, wouldn’t it be better for an article to address that problem by explaining why the dress code exists and then explain how the dress code can be misinterpreted. That would fix the misconception better than writing first without all the facts and further ingraining an awful misconception. The way the article was written suggested that the dress code was meant to put pressure on woman to spend money in order to ensure that only those woman who could afford new clothes could get into a sorority.

          2. You should feel upset that your school newspaper finds it appropriate to write an article that was not fact checked. What if this weren’t about greek life but any other aspect of campus life. Would you then defend such gross inaccuracies and generalizations that could only stem for an utter lack of research on the topic? I wouldn’t, even if it was written with the best intentions. Newspapers are sources of valuable information and they owe a duty to readers, a duty that I do not believe was met. This doesn’t mean I find the newspaper evil or “maleficent” but I do believe that in this case the newspaper was irresponsible.

          There are many aspects of sororities and greek life in general that deserve critique, but in order to critique them you have to accurately identify them.

    3. Anon 4 years ago

      You don’t have to buy new clothes. I’m a girl, went through recruitment and NEVER felt that pressure. The fact that every girl wears the same shirt on the first day is supposed to help reenforce the idea that looks and what you wear is NOT what you are being judged on.
      Being in a sorority is a lifetime commitment – it is meant to be taken seriously. This is why as the days go on the attire gets more and more formal. It is not to pressure a girl into conforming into a certain “look” or to force her to spend money but to impose a sense of seriousness, of respect – especially on the final night when each sorority preforms a part of their ritual.
      If girls interpret this as “i have to buy new clothes or else no one will want me” then that is what they are going to think. It is an unfortunate thing to think and it is simply not true. The original article, furthermore, only makes this misunderstanding about the message behind the dress code worse because girls who did not feel that pressure may now think, “omg, I need to buy new clothes because everyone else does.”
      Do you know how many girls a single sister may talk to in 4 days of rush? Do you honestly think at any point of that process she is going to look at the girl across from her and say, “i remember seeing her wear that shirt once before, ew!” No, no she is not. She’s probably thinking, “wait, whats her name again?”
      As far as race, I don’t have the statistics on the number of minorities who rush and number of minorities placed in houses – neither did the original article. I also am not sure how many woman think, “I’m not white so I couldn’t get in,” and then decide not to rush. I honestly hope that number is zero. I think the most important statistic, however, would be the number of minorities who feel loved, respected, empowered, and welcomed in their house. I honestly hope that number is 100%.

  2. Bob 4 years ago

    Please just abolish Greek Life at Emory already. “Greek” Life wrongfully appropriates the nation of Greece’s culture, and the EPC still has not addressed my concerns of ensuring that the Greek community at Emory is more accepting of individuals such as myself who identify as toasters. There are literally dozens of us. Why does the EPC still act as if we don’t exist?

  3. Anonymous 4 years ago

    It astounds me how Greek organizations are unable to handle even the most mild-mannered criticisms.

  4. Pingback: Exclusion Systemic In Recruitment Process | The Emory Wheel

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