By Jessica Gendron Williams
August is our favorite time of year at Phired Up – and our busiest time of year. August marks the start of school. It also marks the start of recruitment season. Recruitment season is fast, chaotic at times, and exhausting. It’s also fun, empowering, and exciting. It goes by in the blink of an eye – and the next thing we know we’re in the throws of football season (my favoritest time of year). I’ve spent years traveling the country teaching recruitment – and I’ve spent most of that time in the month of August and September – helping chapters and communities gear up for one of the most important things they do all year long.
As August 1st marks the official start of recruitment season this year (the early recruitment schools start recruitment prep this week), I thought it timely and important to remind us all what this time of year is REALLY all about.
I think back to my freshman year of college and the woman I was. I was scared and insecure. I was lonely. I was terrified to leave the comfortable little bubble of the small farm town I was raised in. I was excited about a new adventure. Anxious to get started. More than anything, though, I wanted to find a place to belong, to matter, to fit in, to find friends. I set out on a search and found sorority. The woman I am today – I owe in large part to my sorority experience. It gave me a place to belong. It gave me a place to discover who I am. It gave me a place to fail, succeed, play, laugh, cry, and love. It gave me a place to matter, to invest in, and to grow. Sorority has truly been one of the greatest gifts of my lifetime.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably nodding in agreement. You probably have similar feelings about your fraternal experience. It was fun – no doubt, but we owe much of who we are today to fraternity or sorority.
Let’s not forget that during recruitment season.
The thing I hate about recruitment season is that we get so caught up in “winning” recruitment – whatever that means. We think recruitment is a competition and we treat potential members like their a prize to be won. It’s like we want to hang them on a wall like a plaque or something. We say, “Look at our new members” “They’re the best” “Aren’t they the best”! We get so caught up in getting the “best” potential members that we forget what recruitment is actually about.
I think that’s crazy.
In recruitment, there are no “winners” and “losers”. We all win in recruitment. Think about that… We all win. We all win because at the end of the day – if we do it right – men and women walk back through the door on bid day. They put their hand in the air, and they say, “I promise to be your brother/sister for the rest of my life, to help us both be better people, to love and support each other fiercely, and to make the world a better place.” If that’s not “winning”, I don’t know what is.
Sure, there are times we end up with people who aren’t that great, who don’t commit to that pledge, and who are not ultimately a great fit for the organization – but more times than not, I believe we win – and we win big. We end up with people who are willing to pay us money and commit to our values – FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIVES because they believe deep down, we’ll deliver on our promise.
The promise that we’ll provide a place where they can belong. That we’ll help them discover who they really are. That we’ll provide them with some of the deepest friendships of their lifetime. That we’ll work alongside them to make the world a better place. That they will matter. That at the end of their college years and at the end of their lives, they will look back on their fraternity or sorority experience and say, “Fraternity/Sorority was a gift to my life.”
This recruitment season, let’s remember what this is all about. Recruitment isn’t a game to be won. There are no winners and losers. In fact, at the end of recruitment we all actually win.
Recruitment is our opportunity to find the next group of members who will stand beside us in the journey through college – and especially life. It’s an opportunity to give the gift of fraternity and sorority to more people who need it. It’s an opportunity to give individuals a place to belong, a place to matter, a place to grow, and a place to find some of the most meaningful and powerful relationships of their life. That is what recruitment is all about.