Outside Observer: Sorority Bid Day

by Jessica Pettitt [Guest Blog]

I’m a sorority woman. I didn’t go through formal recruitment when I initiated into my sorority. I joined as an alumna after careful thought and consideration. However, I did recently observe Bid Day at a private school in the south that is 40%+ Greek.  With a sample size of one – I learned things important enough that I need to share.

In no particular order –

  • If I am opting into your process – I will do anything to belong.  It is up to you to not take advantage of this.
  • Don’t offer me a bid unless you mean it.
  • Does a legacy bring something to you or do you bring something more for a legacy?
  • One house has “May all who enter as guests leave as friends” above the door – can you keep this true regardless of bids and the results of the formal process?
  • What if a stronger recruiter was defined by quality conversations instead of “two more bumps?”
  • What if your sense of power was in check?  One woman told me that they love recruitment because they “make them clap for me.”  Our sense of worth has more value than this.
  • The chapter that impressed me the most sat on the floor and shared a sense of pride in themselves, their sisters, and their organizations.  They didn’t even have on matching outfits.  This was the newest chapter and the one that made me feel the best.
  • A basic First Aid kit, tampons, Advil, and water were available for staff and recruitment participants, but garbage bags, supplies, and snacks were competitive resources from each organization. One chapter ran out of cups with two rounds left to go – no one would loan them cups – some of the other chapter leaders looked at this as a recruitment window to get better members.  This was incredibly sad to me.
  • Really smart students struggled with the Greek alphabet and 30 minute rounds.  Perhaps this isn’t about intelligence but stress.  What if the process was fun and not mind numbing?
  • Lifelong membership should be a mutual selection process.

jessica_0967 It took me over a month to get one organization’s chant out of my head.  After one day of recruitment, I couldn’t eat a cupcake for a long, long time.  I found myself emotionally, spiritually, and physically exhausted and I wasn’t even going through the process.  If anything, I just wanted to get away from the noise, people, and shower off the small burst of scripted commercials I had witnessed all day.

The most powerful observation from the day – well there are two of them.

1)    One woman questioned the very loud very long chant and its effectiveness by asking, “The chant is 8 minutes long – we don’t even get to talk to them for 8 minutes – is this backwards?”  She was silenced and put on kitchen duty and the chant survived.

2)    The small chapter that was also the newest organization – I observed their process for one 30 minute round.  The next day, far from the recruitment mayhem, one of the young women approached me in the bookstore.  She remembered my name and I couldn’t place her.  She re-introduced herself to me, wished me happy travels, and smiled.  I wasn’t anticipating anyone in the bookstore recognizing me – and I genuinely felt like she knew me.  As I ran from everyone else, I would have followed her anywhere.

Take a second – as you plan your recruitment fair – and ask yourself are you competing or recruiting.  If recruiting, are you recruiting numbers or friends?  If friends, are you decorating a process or allowing time to get to know them as individuals?  If individuals, are you dependent on this intense week or are you talking to amazing people year round?