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
The Emory Wheel was founded in 1919 and is currently the only independent, student-run newspaper of Emory University. The Wheel publishes weekly on Wednesdays during the academic year, except during University holidays and scheduled publication intermissions.
The Wheel is financially and editorially independent from the University. All of its content is generated by the Wheel’s more than 100 student staff members and contributing writers, and its printing costs are covered by profits from self-generated advertising sales.