Enough With The Frills

By Jessica Gendron Williams

Hello sorority women.  I’d like to talk with you about being a great hostess.

I like to host guests. I want my guests to feel welcome in my home when they visit.  I want them to feel comfortable.  I want them to see the pride I have in my home and the respect I have for them by how I prepare for their visit.  So yes, I clean before they come over.  Yes, I might pick up, set new pictures of my family and friends out, buy some fresh flowers and light a few candles.  I will likely shower, get ready, and dress nicely, but appropriately for the occasion.  When they arrive, I meet them at the door with a warm smile and a hug, welcome them in, offer them a seat and something to drink.  Then we might sit and catch up, chat about what’s new in our lives, laugh, discuss news, politics, religion, our significant others, great shopping deals, and perhaps plan our next gathering. We then might eat or play a game or watch a movie.  And when my friends leave, I walk them to the door, give them a big hug, tell them it was so great to see them, and watch them get into their cars and pull out of the drive.

Now, let’s imagine that I am hosting an event where there are likely to be people that I don’t know attending. There will likely be a lot of similarities – perhaps I won’t hug them – but I may, I’m a hugger.  I would likely offer them a tour of my home, show them where the restroom was, perhaps point out some pictures of my family or friends.  But the gathering would likely be similar in atmosphere, tone, and energy.

sorority-poseLet’s now look through the sorority recruitment lens.  Much of the things I discussed above we do.  Clean and decorate?  Check.   Prepare food and drink?  Check.  Get ready and dressed?  Check.  Greet guests at the door?  Check.  Offer a tour or something to drink, show them the restroom?  Check.  Have conversation?  Check.  Walk them to the door?  Check.  We do all of the same things that  normal person hosting a dinner party, a shower, or girls night would do – however – we as sorority women take it up a notch… actually about 1000 notches into the crazy zone.

Matching costumes? Check.  Lame skit prepared?  Check. Bizarre door chant/stack practiced?  Check.  Bump groups arranged? Check.  Video created?  Check.  Multiple songs practiced and choreographed?  Check.  Enough of these things all crammed into a single week to scare away the best women on campus from ever even visiting our neighborhood?  Check, Check, and Double Check.

And when we go overboard – it doesn’t necessarily make our guests feel more welcome.  It’s actually about us.  It’s about doing things we enjoy, entertaining ourselves, and competing with the houses downt the street. It usually just makes the potential members more intimidated.  The question I ask, “Is that the environment you want to create?”

We do not need the frills.  We don’t need the skits, the singing, the dancing, the Perrier water instead of regular filtered ice water, the matching outfits, the matching nail polish, the bumping, the slide shows, the videos, the over elaborate house decorations for house tours – I could go on forever – but I will stop.  We don’t need this stuff shoved into recruitment to make a great first impression, to make people feel welcome, to be great hostesses.  We need to remember the reason we do these things in the first place (FOR OUR GUESTS) and recognize that we take it too far into the extreme.

My request to all you – get rid of the frills.  People join sororities because of the relationships they build with us in the comfortable and welcoming environments we create or them – not because of the frills.  As you look at changing your recruitment rules for next year or the coming semester – challenge yourselves and your community to ask these questions:

  • Does this create a warm and welcoming environment for the PNM?
  • Does this actually have an effect on if women will join?
  • Would I do this if I were just having a party at my house?
  • Did I join for this?
  • Has there been any other instance in my life besides sorority recruitment where I have seen this or experienced this?

If you answered “No.” to any or all of those questions, I beg you to please consider changing or altering the rule.

We’re here to help.  We’re here to provide some recommendations.  Just ask any of us:  Jessica Gendron Williams, KJ McNamara, Shira Tober, or Colleen Coffey-Melchiorre