When we read about the reasons that Alfa Lloyd or Mary Jane Collins founded Delta Zeta, we find it was because they wanted to create a social sorority on a male dominated campus. In Alpha Sigma Alpha’s charter it says, “The purpose of the association shall be to cultivate friendship among its members, and in every way to create pure and elevating sentiments…” In 1885, Alpha Chi Omega was founded with a dedication to advancing the “intellectual, social, and moral culture” of its members. If you take time to read the history of the chapters on campus, you will read about a group of women who wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves, who wanted to create genuine friendships, and who wanted a sisterhood that empowered them. I truly believe that it’s important to take the time to think about the values that we say our chapters hold and why they were important to our founders. Believe it or not, they still apply today.
It’s easy to talk about how much sororities have changed. My mom always says. “Recruitment is so much different now than it was back in the day,” and she was only in school 25 years ago! But do you know what’s not different? Her chapters values. Her chapter still says the same ritual every formal meeting. We say that things are different from one year to the next. Sure, our community is growing, but are things really that different? Our research has shown that the number one reason that potential new members go through recruitment is because they were wanting to find friends. Wasn’t Alpha Delta Pi founded on the basis of developing friendship? Their open motto is “We Live for Each Other.” Sororities were created as a safe haven, a support system, and a source for joy. I speak for most women at Missouri State when I say that our sororities are still providing those pillars. So, why shouldn’t our recruitment reflect that? Isn’t that what a values-based recruitment is all about?
When we take the time to highlight the fact that Mary Caffrey Low created Sigma Kappa because she was determined to create a place for women in college back in 1874 or that Xi Omicron Iota was founded on loyalty, sisterhood, and friendship – that’s values-based. Do you think any of our founders would care what we are wearing during recruitment? Do you think they would care at all about the decorations or how loud we chanted? When we spend time talking about values-based recruitment, we often start listing off these values that need to be important to you because you’re an “XYZ.” We say that you need to know yours and they have to match that sororities for it to be a “good fit.” But I think that Louise Marie Davis from Sigma Sigma Sigma would rather have women who speak powerfully or who are hopeful of the future, even though they have an undecided major, than just have women who can recite “wisdom, power, faith, hope, and love.” I think that’s what a values-based recruitment is all about; not searching for those specific values that just so happen to match the chapters, but recruiting women for those valuable qualities that they display during recruitment events.
That’s why there is such a heavy emphasis on conversations in a values-based recruitment. As a chapter member it’s not necessarily that you are making sure that she meets all membership criteria you were trained to look for, but that you are learning about the potential new members life – her principles, goals, and morals. Do you find them admirable? As a potential new member it’s not that you prefer chapter XYZ’s house better or their color scheme, it’s that you loved Gamma Phi Beta because they inspire the highest type of womanhood and they made you feel like you were in the presence of sisterhood. That’s what values-based recruitment means! It’s using conversations during recruitment events to learn more about each other and find that connection that you know will last a lifetime. Recruitment is just the beginning of the friendships that you create in Fraternity and Sorority Life.
We’ve seen that “friendship” trend for the majority of this blog now. There is a little bit of friendship and sisterhood in every chapters creed – that solidifies the Panhellenic bond between chapters. So as we go into recruitment this fall, I would like everyone to keep in mind that we’re all friends, even sisters. I know I share the same value that Elizabeth Heywood Wyman and Jessie Wallace Hughan had when they founded Alpha Omicron Pi on the belief of forging lifelong friendships. So, my request to everyone going through recruitment this year is this:
To take the time to create friendships – with those in your future sisterhood and those in any chapter. To use a values-based recruitment to build each other up. To embrace the opportunity to empower the woman sitting next to you, as our founders did before us.
Madison Henry, 2018 Panhellenic VP Recruitment