by Haley Cahill-Teubert
We’ve all heard our fair share of WEIRD recruitment rules. Surely all these rules were well-intended, but at some point in time, things went a bit too far.
In talking with communities about strategies for maximizing COB efforts, building relationships with PNMs and growing chapters, I’ve been told: “No, that’s against the rules” many, many times.
Mind you, I’m not encouraging anything outlandish or illegal; I’m encouraging normal human activities. Parameters are fine, but rules that don’t allow members or PNMs to behave like normal human beings are not.
A few examples:
- When encouraging a spring-recruiting chapter to meet PNMs during the fall semester and encourage them to sign up for recruitment, members said it was against the recruitment rules to talk to a PNM before recruitment.
- When encouraging a chapter to build relationships with PNMs by meeting the women in their classes and asking to study with them, members said that was frowned upon because they couldn’t share class notes with someone who was a PNM as that was considered a “gift” and not allowed.
- When discussing how chapter members could show more generosity to PNMs who may be experiencing a very emotional day, members said offering her a cup of water or allowing her to use the chapter house restroom if she asks for it is worthy of a fine.
- When giving an example of a story a PNM may share about her move in experience that involved a brother and boyfriend helping, I was told to change the subject because discussing boys is a violation.
Somewhere along the line, policies were misinterpreted and taken to extreme lengths, because if these things are against the rules, we’re not allowing our members or PNMs to act like normal human beings.
We’re scaring people; we’ve got to be more normal.
Why would anyone want to join our community when we won’t interact with them outside of a formal recruitment round? That doesn’t scream friendly, inviting, or sisterly. Not to mention how insulting it is to micromanage our members. We’ve got taglines and mission statements about how we are organizations that empower women, shape women, inspire women–and we’re doing any of that by controlling their every move. It’s not normal to tell a woman she cannot ‘like’ a PNM’s photo on Instagram because that’s considered bid promising. It’s not normal to tell chapter members they must change their names on social media so PNMs cannot find them and try to interact with them. It’s not normal to instruct chapter members to immediately change the subject if a PNM mentions a male loved one in conversation.
These rules aren’t just silly; they are insulting and overbearing, and they don’t portray sorority life or sorority women in a great way. Who would want to join an organization that dictates your ability to interact with people in your residence hall, a coffee shop, or class? Women deserve better–the women we recruited and the women we will recruit.
There’s never been a better time for a discussion about your community’s rules–and perhaps some serious revisions. At the end of the day, the rules should be about improving the recruitment experience and the membership experience. They should align with the NPC Unanimous Agreements, yes. They should align with school policies, yes. They should align with academic success (that’s our main focus of college, don’t forget). What they should not do is prevent our women from behaving like normal humans, paint an inaccurate picture of sorority life, or dissuade potential new members from joining.
We’re scaring people with our weird rules; let’s be more normal.