Greek affairs shakes up recruitment tactics, acquires new chapter


Meredith Kestel/Iowa State Daily

Students hug when they find out they are in the same chapter at bid day Aug. 21.

Danielle Ferguson

Sororities are placing a higher emphasis on values for formal recruitment this year.  

This year, sorority recruits took a survey called iValU that was designed to help recruits rank their values.

“We hit home with values because that’s what it’s about,” said Taylor Coakley, vice president of recruitment for greek affairs. “[They rank] things like belonging, achievement, environment, leadership, etc. to identify what they personally value.”

Each of the 15 Panhellenic sororities — now 16 with the addition of Alpha Phi — ranked its top five values with a different version of the survey called WeValU.

The process began with Welcome Weekend on Aug. 16 and 17 when the girls met all the sororities to get a feel for their values. The Value Showcase was Aug. 18.

“We want a value-based recruitment process, not a ‘frill’ based one,” said Katy Cran, the assistant director of the office of greek affairs. “So recruits can make their decision off the sorority’s values instead of how many balloons they have on their front lawn.”

Each sorority focuses on a different philanthropic cause for which they raise awareness and funds. Sororities represented at Iowa State focus on many issues, including domestic violence awareness, the Ronald McDonald House, diabetes research, the Arthritis Foundation, women’s heart health and the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

More than 800 recruits then experienced Aug. 19’s “live like a greek” day, where they had the chance to learn more about the time and financial commitments of being in a sorority.

Cran said that fees are one factor that sometimes turn possible recruits away from the greek system.

“Financial commitment depends on the house,” Cran said. “But sometimes it can cost almost the same or less [than] living in the residence halls.”

The average cost of an ISU residence hall and meal plan is about $4,214 each semester. Sorority dues can range from about $3,100 each semester to $4,125 each semester. Other nonresidential chapters can cost from $200 to $1,000 per semester.

After waiting for about five days to hear from their top choices for a new sorority house, recruits find out whether or not they received a “bid” at bid day. The recruits open envelopes to see if they made it into their chapter choice.

There were 650 women who accepted membership offers, Cran said. Many who did not accept membership, she added, dropped the process prior to bid day.

Each sorority is allowed the same number of members to stay fair, Cran said. A comfortable number, she said, is about 120. In the 2013-14 school year, each sorority had 135 bids.

Greek affairs put together a committee to decide whether or not the greek system needed to expand. The vote was yes, with Alpha Phi returning to Iowa State this fall after leaving in 1998 after membership decline. Delta Gamma will also establish a chapter at Iowa State in fall 2016.

Cran said it has been about 30 years since a new group came to Iowa State.

Cran and Coakley didn’t say how many groups applied for the openings but that the two selected are “highly qualified.”

The Collegiate Panhellenic Council is the umbrella organization for the 16 sororities at Iowa State. The Panhellenic Council has a structured recruitment process, which is why recruitment week is structured as it is.

Many of the fraternities at Iowa State fall under the National Interfraternity Council, which does not have a structured recruitment process.

“They let fraternities create their own plan for open recruitment,” Cran said. “That’s why there is such a varying number of members in fraternities.”

Cran said that most fraternities focus on recruitment during the orientation process in June, which allows the men to live in the chapter house if they desire. The smallest fraternity is 20 to 30 members, and the largest is about 130, she said.

The overall greek community holds academics to a high standard, according to Cran. 

“We look for a healthy GPA,” Cran said. “After that, it’s sort of like speed dating — you’re looking for that connection.”

Abbie Stewart, membership vice president of recruitment, was in charge of recruitment for her chapter Gamma Phi Beta. After taking the WeValU survey, the sorority found they value aspects such as confidence and ambition in potential sorority sisters.

“We really look for girls who are down to earth and are as passionate about the house as we are,” Stewart said.

The sorority’s philanthropy is Building Strong Girls, which aims to help girls with everyday struggles, such as self-esteem issues and lack of confidence, Stewart said.

As for the sorority’s goal, Stewart said, “We strive to make strong girls to help them survive … whatever they struggle with.”