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Be Interested, Not Interesting

Do you have the coolest stories? Are you able to talk for hours about your exciting life? Do you think people find you interesting?

That’s nice.

Here’s the problem though. When you’re trying to recruit someone into your organization (and this is going to be hard to handle, so prepare)… potential members aren’t going to join because you OR your organization are interesting. The only reason they’ll join you is if you show interest in them.

Let me explain a little further… Pretend you’ve just met a prospective member at one of your recruitment events. You start by asking the obligatory questions that seem to be the only things we know how to ask in such a situation… “What’s your name? What’s your major? Where are you from?” GREAT WORK! You started off the conversation just fine (albeit boring and contrived, but nonetheless the conversation is rolling).

Now, though, you might feel stuck. You might experience that awkward silence that can be the most uncomfortable thing in the world. And you might think, “O.K., I should tell this guy/gal an interesting story about my life or my organization.” That’s where you would be wrong.

Here’s the thing… people just want to be liked. That’s all. People want you to pay attention to them, let them talk about themselves, and feel like you’re taking an interest in them. You don’t do that by telling stories about your greatest Greek experiences. Nor do you do that by sharing your funniest anecdotes from childhood. You do that by asking them questions and listening to their stories and anecdotes… then politely laugh, smile, nod, and guffaw when appropriate.

Check out our “Five F*n Ways to Master a Conversation” (the women refer to these as the “Five FABULOUS Ways to Master a Conversation,” but guys like to cuss) in Good Guys for some great tips on stuff to ask about.

Be interested. Not Interesting.

Never-Stop-Learning

Recruitment in New Member Ed Curricula

by Matt Mattson

Quick” What did you learn in your fraternity/sorority new member education program that actually helped you be a more successful fraternity/sorority member?

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about that concept lately. Often, unfortunately, the answer to that question is… “not much.”

This upcoming weekend I’ll be co-facilitating a workshop at MGCA with Andy Huston of Sigma Alpha Mu on: “Pledge Ed Curriculum Repair.” We’ve been working on some concepts to help fraternity/sorority chapters focus on results-producing activities when it comes to new member education. One of the most obvious pieces that is glaringly absent from the majority of chapters’ new member education programs that I’ve talked with is… recruitment.

This past weekend I did a Dynamic Recruitment Workshop at Northern Arizona University. This was one of the first audiences that responded affirmatively when I asked, “How many of your chapters teach their new members how to do recruitment?” I’ve asked question to thousands of fraternity/sorority members, and typically very few chapters include this in their curriculum. Clearly, the NAU Greeks are doing something right.

If recruitment really is the “lifeblood” of your organization… If, as we claim, PEOPLE and PURPOSE are the two core elements of any membership organization… If you’re going to teach your new members anything, doesn’t it make sense to teach them how to recruit?

Evaluate your current new member education programs. How much of your program actually prepares your new members to be great at being a brother/sister? How much of your program actually drives the results you need as a chapter? Can you add recruitment training? Shouldn’t you?

We’re unveiling an article at MGCA on results-producing new member education programs using Phired Up’s “Eight Steps to Limitless Possibility.” Look for it on our free resources page in the coming weeks. In the meantime, look back at Good Guys, if you haven’t read it lately, and see if you can think of ways to use “The Eight Steps” in your new member education process.

[Updated 2/26/07: Check out Phired Up's Free Resources for the article on applying "The Eight Steps to Limitless Possibility" to New Member Education. This article was presented at the 2007 MGCA Conference by Matt Mattson and Andy Huston]

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How to Talk to Buttheads

by Josh Orendi

Inspired by the new ESPN ads with a guy who literally talks out of his ass, I offer you these typical remarks by fraternity buttheads and a couple rebuttals that should help them “put a cork in it.”
ButtHead (BH): I don’t want the chapter to get too big.
A) If 50 men of your quality or better were interested in joining, how many do you think we should turn away? ” so what you’re really saying is that you’re not willing to do the work to get that many guys.

BH: If the chapter gets much bigger, we’ll lose our brotherhood.
A) If the chapter gets much smaller, we won’t be able to cover your failure to pay your dues.
B) Should we call our chapter at XYZ University and tell them to kick out 1/2 their membership so they have a “tighter” brotherhood like us?

BH: This chapter is about quality not quantity.
A) Quantity drives Quality. The more men we have to choose from, the more selective we can be.
B) Right now we give bids to nearly 1/2 of the men we get to know. That’s not being highly selective.

BH: This school is anti-Greek and trying to get rid of fraternities.
A) If that were true, would they pay a full time Greek life staff, provide housing, support our programming, and put up with 1/2 the stupid things we do? Maybe they just want us to live up to the standards we set for ourselves.
B) What would you tell the Board of Trustees if they asked you how Greeks support the mission of the university?

BH: We need to get more kids to the house.
A) We need to get the brothers OUT of the house and onto campus.
B) Good idea. Let’s go meet some new people right now.

BH: It’s not fair that everyone has a spotlight on Greeks. We’re treated different than other student groups.
A) That might be because we took a voluntary oath to live to standards that are higher than our peers. We told the community we were going to perform at a higher level. They’re just holding us accountable.
BH: Well you never see the newspaper talking about all the positive stuff we do ” like service hours, philanthropy dollars, and academic achievement.
A) Those things are part of why we exist. I also don’t see them writing an article on English majors writing a collection of poems, janitors collecting garbage around campus, or cafeteria workers offering unlimited servings of hash browns.
B) Service hours and Philanthropy dollars are not credits toward breaking the rules/law.
BH: These kids need to earn their letters.

A) Funny. I don’t remember that from our ritual book. I thought the only requirements for membership involved making a commitment to respecting each other and living up to our shared values. Would you help me find the passage on “earning the letters?”

BH: We can’t shorten the pledge period or these guys will never learn their stuff.
A) How long was the pledge period for our founding fathers? Oh yeah, they didn’t have one and they seemed to do alright.
B) Are you concerned that a 19-year-old man can’t learn the Greek alphabet in 8 weeks or that you won’t have someone to do your bitch work after spring break?
 

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50% of 100 > 50% of 10

by Matt Mattson and Josh Orendi

We’ve talked to literally THOUSANDS of fraternity members across the country, and through our conversations we’ve realized a pretty interesting statistic. Over 50% of the non-members who build a friendship with your brothers join your chapter. It’s true, isn’t it? If your brothers really get to know prospective members, about 1/2 of them end up joining.

If this is the case, then there are two really important “truths” to be aware of:

Truth #1: You’re a hell of a lot of fun to be around. Over 1/2 the people who build relationships with your members go on to join the organization.

Truth #2: How ever many new members you took last year, multiply that number times two. Your chapter is so focused on itself that it has failed to build meaningful relationships with more than that many people ” the entire chapter ” in an entire year!

So, the obvious advice follows… get to know twice as many guys as a chapter, and there is a good chance you will end up with twice as many members joining!

I (Matt) used to be an admissions counselor for a university. It was my job to recruit students to come to the college for which I worked. I was great at making the “sale.” I loved the university and could passionately describe it in such great detail that almost nobody could pass up a chance to attend. So, I was taken aback one day when my supervisor told me that I needed to stop concentrating all my time on “making the sale,” and start putting a lot more effort into GETTING MORE APPLICATIONS. She said, “Matt, this school sells itself once people get to see it. Your job, first and foremost, is to find get more applications so that we can get more people to see it.”

The same thing applies to fraternity recruitment. Don’t spend your time trying to make the sale to the four guys who have shown interest — at most you’ll probably get two. Go out and get 400 guys’ names so that you at least have a chance to get 200!

 

 

50% of 100 > 50% of 10

by Matt Mattson and Josh Orendi

We've talked to literally THOUSANDS of fraternity members across the country, and through our conversations we've realized a pretty interesting statistic. Over 50% of the non-members who build a friendship with your brothers join your chapter. It's true, isn't it? If your brothers really get to know prospective members, about 1/2 of them end up joining. 

If this is the case, then there are two really important “truths” to be aware of:

Truth #1: You're a hell of a lot of fun to be around. Over 1/2 the people who build relationships with your members go on to join the organization.  

Truth #2: How ever many new members you took last year, multiply that number times two. Your chapter is so focused on itself that it has failed to build meaningful relationships with more than that many people " the entire chapter " in an entire year!

So, the obvious advice follows… get to know twice as many guys as a chapter, and there is a good chance you will end up with twice as many members joining!

I (Matt) used to be an admissions counselor for a university. It was my job to recruit students to come to the college for which I worked. I was great at making the “sale.” I loved the university and could passionately describe it in such great detail that almost nobody could pass up a chance to attend. So, I was taken aback one day when my supervisor told me that I needed to stop concentrating all my time on “making the sale,” and start putting a lot more effort into GETTING MORE APPLICATIONS. She said, “Matt, this school sells itself once people get to see it. Your job, first and foremost, is to find get more applications so that we can get more people to see it.”

The same thing applies to fraternity recruitment. Don't spend your time trying to make the sale to the four guys who have shown interest — at most you’ll probably get two. Go out and get 400 guys' names so that you at least have a chance to get 200!   

 

 

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Karate Rush (or Maximizing What’s In Your Control)

by Matt Mattson

I’ve been providing some distance coaching services to a chapter that I met at a recent Dynamic Recruitment Workshop. The chapter has been battling some three-year-old punitive stipulations that disallow the chapter from housing freshmen. In a fraternity community that is housing-oriented, this has created a significant recruitment challenge for the chapter.

We’ve been coaching the chapter to focus first on the issues of the situation which are in their control (for fans of Good Guys, these are the S.P.A.M. concepts). But we’ve also been working with the chapter to help them take a cue from a Japanese martial art.

Not exactly karate (as the goofy title of this post implies), Aikido is a Japanese martial art that teaches people to exploit an opponent’s strength, weight and motion to your advantage. A great description of Aikido can be found here.

In his book Rules for Revolutionaries, Guy Kawasaki writes about the concept of Aikido marketing. He says, “Aikido marketing is using an opponent’s strength against itself instead of meeting brute force with brute force.”

This concept can be easily and successfully applied to a fraternity or sorority that might be in a challenging situation like the one I mentioned we’re working with.

In an effort to get the chapter to turn their perceived weakness (freshmen can’t live in the house) into a strength, we pointed out that on their campus only about 15% of the freshmen were joining fraternities. And because we know that on almost every campus we work with, a common excuse for not joining a fraternity is that many freshmen don’t want to live in a fraternity house (they would prefer a normal freshman residence life experience), we suggested that this chapter change its perspective.

The truth is that 85% of the freshmen on that campus aren’t interested in living in a fraternity house, and while the chapter often hears that the reason their prospective members chose another chapter is because they could live-in freshmen year, that information is coming from ONLY the 15% of freshmen who were looking to live in a fraternity house. That means that 85% of the campus would probably be more interested in their chapter than any of the other chapters!

We coached the chapter to pitch their situation in a different way — using their opponent’s strengths against them. To differentiate the chapter’s unique value, we suggested mentioning something like this when recruiting, “We believe that it is very important for freshmen to have a true freshman year residence life experience. We know you want to meet as many new friends as possible freshman year, so our policy allows freshmen that experience and the promise of a great house to look forward to next year. Plus, it makes your life easier.”

This may not work for all chapters, but consider how you can use the Aikido Marketing principle to differentiate your organization. How can you use your “opponents’” strengths to your advantage. Can you flip your perspective upside down and maximize what you can control?

Karate Rush (or Maximizing What's In Your Control)

by Matt Mattson

I've been providing some distance coaching services to a chapter that I met at a recent Dynamic Recruitment Workshop. The chapter has been battling some three-year-old punitive stipulations that disallow the chapter from housing freshmen. In a fraternity community that is housing-oriented, this has created a significant recruitment challenge for the chapter.

We've been coaching the chapter to focus first on the issues of the situation which are in their control (for fans of Good Guys, these are the S.P.A.M. concepts). But we've also been working with the chapter to help them take a cue from a Japanese martial art.

Not exactly karate (as the goofy title of this post implies), Aikido is a Japanese martial art that teaches people to exploit an opponent's strength, weight and motion to your advantage. A great description of Aikido can be found here.

In his book Rules for Revolutionaries, Guy Kawasaki writes about the concept of Aikido marketing. He says, “Aikido marketing is using an opponent's strength against itself instead of meeting brute force with brute force.”

This concept can be easily and successfully applied to a fraternity or sorority that might be in a challenging situation like the one I mentioned we're working with.

In an effort to get the chapter to turn their perceived weakness (freshmen can't live in the house) into a strength, we pointed out that on their campus only about 15% of the freshmen were joining fraternities. And because we know that on almost every campus we work with, a common excuse for not joining a fraternity is that many freshmen don't want to live in a fraternity house (they would prefer a normal freshman residence life experience), we suggested that this chapter change its perspective. 

The truth is that 85% of the freshmen on that campus aren't interested in living in a fraternity house, and while the chapter often hears that the reason their prospective members chose another chapter is because they could live-in freshmen year, that information is coming from ONLY the 15% of freshmen who were looking to live in a fraternity house. That means that 85% of the campus would probably be more interested in their chapter than any of the other chapters!

We coached the chapter to pitch their situation in a different way — using their opponent's strengths against them. To differentiate the chapter's unique value, we suggested mentioning something like this when recruiting, “We believe that it is very important for freshmen to have a true freshman year residence life experience. We know you want to meet as many new friends as possible freshman year, so our policy allows freshmen that experience and the promise of a great house to look forward to next year. Plus, it makes your life easier.”

This may not work for all chapters, but consider how you can use the Aikido Marketing principle to differentiate your organization. How can you use your “opponents'” strengths to your advantage. Can you flip your perspective upside down and maximize what you can control?

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Referrals from Sororities

by Josh Orendi

The Director of Expansion for a 100+ chapter fraternity walked onto a Midwest campus with 10,000+ students where nobody had ever heard of his letters. He was charged with recruiting 50+ men in 6 weeks to start a brand new chapter”. The chapter had nearly 100 men by the end of the year. Here is one of the techniques he used to find the original core of members:

Nick called Jennifer, the VP of Recruitment for Kappa sorority. He asked her to help him better understand the Greek system and the quality of the fraternities on campus. She admitted that the Kappa’s had their favorite fraternities, but overall they felt like the men on campus were disrespectful, unorganized, and a little wrapped up in themselves. She wished they were more committed to serving the community. Jennifer pointed out that there was only one fraternity on campus large enough to do a real mixer with them, and it was almost impossible to get all their brothers to show up for anything.

Nick said he understood and told her he was excited to offer something “different” with his fraternity. He arranged with her to make a brief presentation to her chapter at their next meeting.

Then, Nick called on Joe — a handsome, athletic brother from a nearby chapter — dressed him well, and prepared for the meeting. On his way there he picked up an arrangement of violets (Kappa’s national flower), a pack of note cards, and a large box of pens.
As the Kappa girls settled in for the meeting, Jennifer announced Nick to the group. Nick walked to the front of the room, thanked them for the opportunity to address the chapter, and publicly offered a token of his gratitude as Joe unveiled the arrangement of violets and presented them to the sorority president. (the sound of hearts melting could be heard throughout the room).

Nick addressed the group, “Ladies, I’m here representing XYZ fraternity, a new fraternity at ABC University. I’ve been on campus for a few days talking with students and faculty. I also had the pleasure to spend some time talking with Jennifer. She is amazing! You should be proud to have her in a position of leadership representing your organization.”

He paused, then said, “It seems to me that there are not nearly enough gentlemen in this Greek community. Would you agree?” Heads nodded throughout the group, mumblings of affirmation came from the back of the room, and one girl snapped her fingers and said, “Damn right!”

“You deserve better. The school and community deserve better,” he said setting up the group. “XYZ is committed to building and supporting a fraternity of gentlemen that are dedicated to scholarship, community service, and campus leadership. I know from experience that the best way to find the top men on a campus is to ask the top women on campus (pause) that is why I knew I needed to find the Kappa chapter on campus.”

The ladies faces lit up like Christmas morning. A couple of women in the group began a well rehearsed Kappa song as others joined in with clapping and singing. Nick interrupted, “Ladies, I’d like to introduce you to Joe. He is a founding member of XYZ at DFG University across the state, and a great example of a XYZ gentleman.” The ladies look over at well dressed, athletic, hunky Joe and dreams of mixers with a chapter of 100 Joes dance in their minds.

“Joe is passing out note cards and pens. Please make sure you get one. I’d like to share information about XYZ with the best non-Greek men on this campus, but I need your help to do that. Will you help me identify at least 5-10 non-Greek, top tier gentlemen? I am particularly interested in guys that aren’t the fraternity type and would never otherwise go Greek. While you’re writing, I’ll share a little bit more about XYZ with you “.”

Three minutes pass. Nick says, “Thank you for all your help, but there is one more name I need you to put on the card. Will you please turn the card over and write your name on the back so I know who to send a Thank You card to when those gentlemen become members of the Greek community?”
The girls pass their note cards and pens to Joe. The 5 minute presentation comes to a close. Nick thanks the women one last time. They applaud him for the work he’s doing, and he departs. Nick is off to the next sorority where he’ll repeat the same process.

Nick’s visit with Kappa resulted in over 430 referrals. These are names of quality gentlemen who would not otherwise be interested in Greek life. They are personally referred by a woman that man knows, likes, and respects. Nick will use Facebook or the student directory to get each man’s contact information.

Then he’ll place the call”.
Looking at the first name on the first card: “Brian, this is Nick from XYZ fraternity. I was just at the Kappa house and met Robyn (the name on the back of the note card). There is a group of student leaders forming a new organization and she recommended that I connect with you. Do you have any free time tomorrow or Thursday night? I’m picking up the tab for dinner at Papa Gino’s. Can I save you a seat at the table so I can share more information with you about the group? Great. Do you have a roommate? Feel free to bring a friend with you. I’ll see you at “.

Nick called Jennifer a few weeks later to thank her again for the opportunity to talk to her sisters. He asked, “Do you share this information with any of the other fraternities on campus?” She said, “No. I don’t think we ever have.” Nick asked, “Why not?” Her reply: “They never ask.”

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Values & Sorority Recruitment

by Colleen Coffey and Jessica Gendron

We know that most sororities are interested in recruiting the highest quality women as members. With that in mind, below you will find some real-life case studies that you can use to have good values-based recruitment discussions with your members. From the following case studies based on actual events, evaluate the situation and assess the members’ activities and decisions based on your core values as well as those of your sorority. Ask yourself, how will this situation support or compromise our core values? How will I react? Are my chapter’s recruitment efforts values-based? Pose these questions to your members and see how the responses differ. Values case studies

  • April is the community service chair of your organization. She has been excited all semester about combining recruitment with service by holding an event during recruitment week that raises money to support the local Boys and Girls Club. At your chapter meeting, April stands up to announce that the chapter will be sponsoring a “topless” carwash at a gas station on the edge of campus. The carwash is advertised as “topless” but when participants show up for the excitement, they are surprised by the fact that the top of their car will not be washed. Another sorority did a similar event last semester and raised over $1000 in just one day, plus they had a blast.
  • Lindsay is a 5th year senior with the most experience in your chapter. She has a great idea for a new member activity that she did before she pledged. Lindsay comes to you with a list of 25 tasks that she will be challenging the chapter’s new member to complete. The list includes some educational tasks such as looking up questions on the chapter’s history in the library and getting personal information from sisters. The list also includes some “adventures,” as Lindsay referred to them, such as seeing how many men new members can kiss in one hour and stealing a composite picture from the fraternity your chapter is doing homecoming with.
  • Josh is a charming, outgoing, good-looking football player and pre-med student who is philanthropy chair of his fraternity. Last semester, after eight months of dating, he broke up with your sorority sister. They remain friends, but everyone knows that she still cares about him. At last night’s social event Josh asked you out for dinner next weekend.
  • Your chapter is very well known on campus as the most beautiful and popular sorority around. Margret, who is over weight because of a thyroid condition,, is going through recruitment. She is a sophomore with a 3.8 GPA, is actively involved as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and was President of the Freshman class. Margaret is friendly, outgoing, and incredibly excited about joining your organization. During membership selection, a sister speaks up stating that she is not sure Margaret “fits in with the image of your group.”
  • To show chapter unity and promote the organization’s name, Chandler, an art major, has designed “the coolest crush party t-shirts ever.” The front displays the sorority letters and symbols. The back boasts a large picture of a peace sign with the text above it reading “Everyone wants a”"
  • Anna is a great sister and a pretty good student. Last year, she took the same History class with the same professor that one of the chapter’s new members, Tera, is taking. Tera’s history midterm is tomorrow morning so she tells the sisters she cannot join them at the Thursday night event with Alpha Alpha Alpha fraternity. Anna says, “wait here” and returns a few minutes later with a copy of the midterm. She gives it to Tera and says, “Now there’s no excuse for you not to come have a great time with us.”
  • One of the perks of being an 3rd or 4th year student is having the option to live off campus. This year, two of the chapter’s seniors, Mara and Samantha, live in an amazing apartment where they often host parties for sisters and friends. Since you can’t drink alcohol in your on-campus house, Samantha comes to the rescue with the announcement that she and Mara will host unrestricted parties for sisters, friends, and prospective new members to help get recruitment numbers up this semester.

Keep an eye on Phired Up’s website for the launch of the book on sorority recruitment soon. Coming late Spring 2007.
 

 

 

 

Values & Sorority Recruitment

by Colleen Coffey and Jessica Gendron

We know that most sororities are interested in recruiting the highest quality women as members. With that in mind, below you will find some real-life case studies that you can use to have good values-based recruitment discussions with your members. From the following case studies based on actual events, evaluate the situation and assess the members' activities and decisions based on your core values as well as those of your sorority. Ask yourself, how will this situation support or compromise our core values? How will I react? Are my chapter's recruitment efforts values-based? Pose these questions to your members and see how the responses differ.Values case studies

  • April is the community service chair of your organization. She has been excited all semester about combining recruitment with service by holding an event during recruitment week that raises money to support the local Boys and Girls Club. At your chapter meeting, April stands up to announce that the chapter will be sponsoring a "topless" carwash at a gas station on the edge of campus. The carwash is advertised as "topless" but when participants show up for the excitement, they are surprised by the fact that the top of their car will not be washed. Another sorority did a similar event last semester and raised over $1000 in just one day, plus they had a blast.
  • Lindsay is a 5th year senior with the most experience in your chapter. She has a great idea for a new member activity that she did before she pledged. Lindsay comes to you with a list of 25 tasks that she will be challenging the chapter's new member to complete. The list includes some educational tasks such as looking up questions on the chapter's history in the library and getting personal information from sisters. The list also includes some "adventures," as Lindsay referred to them, such as seeing how many men new members can kiss in one hour and stealing a composite picture from the fraternity your chapter is doing homecoming with.
  • Josh is a charming, outgoing, good-looking football player and pre-med student who is philanthropy chair of his fraternity. Last semester, after eight months of dating, he broke up with your sorority sister. They remain friends, but everyone knows that she still cares about him. At last night's social event Josh asked you out for dinner next weekend.
  • Your chapter is very well known on campus as the most beautiful and popular sorority around. Margret, who is over weight because of a thyroid condition,, is going through recruitment. She is a sophomore with a 3.8 GPA, is actively involved as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, and was President of the Freshman class. Margaret is friendly, outgoing, and incredibly excited about joining your organization. During membership selection, a sister speaks up stating that she is not sure Margaret "fits in with the image of your group.”
  • To show chapter unity and promote the organization's name, Chandler, an art major, has designed "the coolest crush party t-shirts ever." The front displays the sorority letters and symbols. The back boasts a large picture of a peace sign with the text above it reading "Everyone wants a""
  • Anna is a great sister and a pretty good student. Last year, she took the same History class with the same professor that one of the chapter's new members, Tera, is taking. Tera's history midterm is tomorrow morning so she tells the sisters she cannot join them at the Thursday night event with Alpha Alpha Alpha fraternity. Anna says, "wait here" and returns a few minutes later with a copy of the midterm. She gives it to Tera and says, "Now there's no excuse for you not to come have a great time with us." 
  • One of the perks of being an 3rd or 4th year student is having the option to live off campus. This year, two of the chapter's seniors, Mara and Samantha, live in an amazing apartment where they often host parties for sisters and friends. Since you can't drink alcohol in your on-campus house, Samantha comes to the rescue with the announcement that she and Mara will host unrestricted parties for sisters, friends, and prospective new members to help get recruitment numbers up this semester.

Keep an eye on Phired Up's website for the launch of the book on sorority recruitment soon. Coming late Spring 2007.