This year, sorority recruitment is looking a little different than previous years as sororities work to climb back into a sense of normalcy. Following a year and a half disrupted by COVID-19, the Panhellenic Council has taken this year as an opportunity to implement change.
Things will still not be the same as before the pandemic, as some precautionary measures will still be taken, including a virtual option for those interested.
Lady Frances Hamilton, Auburn University Panhellenic Council president and senior in public relations, joined the Panhellenic community upon arriving her first year. As her love for recruitment grew, she sought a way to become more deeply involved. She soon stepped into the role of Panhellenic delegate and later ran for president.
“I wanted to participate in recruitment because it is such a fun way to create a community in college,” Hamilton said. “Being from out of state, I did not know many people and was desperately looking to find a sisterhood of friends that would encourage me, love me and support me throughout the duration of my college years. The Panhellenic community offered that to me and has been the greatest blessing of my college experience.”
However, recruitment in 2021 will look a bit different from when Hamilton went through recruitment in 2018.
Recruitment began on Aug. 6, where potential new members — shortened to PNMs — met with recruitment counselors for dinner and discussion. Afterward, they watched a virtual recruitment video sharing the testimonies of other Panhellenic executive members.
Unlike previous years, the Ice Water Tea round on Aug. 7 will occur virtually. During Ice Water Tea, PNMs visit all 18 chapters — virtually, this year — to become acquainted with them. During this time, sororities can view minute-long introductory videos all PNMs were required to submit while registering, and PNMs will watch welcome recordings from all 18 chapters. Following the videos, PNMs will submit their preferred chapters.
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“The … shift to a virtual Ice Water Tea round stemmed from the feedback we received after last year's first-ever virtual recruitment,” Hamilton said. “Ice Water Tea round in person can be a bit exhausting, as PNMs visit all 18 chapters. The parties are short, so you don't have the ability to have in-depth conversations. Our chapters preferred the virtual format for this particular round, so we honored their preference.”
On the following days, the Philanthropy Round, Sisterhood Round and Preference Round will still take place in person.
The Philanthropy Round will be held on the afternoon of Aug. 8, all day Aug. 9 and the morning of the 10th. The Sisterhood Round will be held all day Aug. 11 and the morning of Aug. 12. The Preference Round will be held all day Aug. 13, followed by bid day on the 14th.
Certain rounds have been extended from their normal schedules to another day to ensure that party numbers remain small, allowing for social distancing measures to be put in place. Hamilton said that masks will be required indoors in keeping with the University's policy, and PNMs will also be presented with the option to opt in for fully virtual recruitment.
"In keeping with Auburn University's latest COVID-19 guidelines, we will now be wearing masks indoors on campus, which includes the Panhellenic chapter rooms where Panhellenic recruitment is held," Hamilton said. "We are happy to provide this as a compromise to continue to have large events on campus, specifically for Panhellenic recruitment."
Hamilton encouraged incoming PNMs to “be themselves” and be “genuine and authentic.” Hamilton said she recognizes the 18 “phenomenal” sororities at Auburn.
“Each is filled with brilliant, kind, encouraging members that are eager to meet them,” Hamilton said. “I would tell them to enjoy the experience and to trust in the process. It can be exhausting; however, it is also so exciting … We are so expectant and excited to meet them.”
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