A record 280 women will seek entrance to Harvard’s four sorority chapters in a redesigned, shorter rush process starting Thursday, marking a slight increase from the 272 students who rushed last spring.
Rush this year will largely take place on the weekend rather than on weekday evenings, unlike in years past, and it will span three “rounds,” rather than the usual four, according to Leah C. Goldman ’15, vice president of recruitment for the Cambridge-Area Panhellenic Council, composed of chapters of Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Kappa Alpha Theta.
Sorority leaders last year made these changes to the process after receiving feedback from participants, Goldman said.
“Everybody just felt that it took way too much time,” she said, adding that events often began at 6 p.m. and ended at midnight, which prompted many participants to drop out. According to Ting-Ting H. Liu ’15, the Panhellenic Council’s president, sorority leaders also decided to shorten rush for logistical and financial reasons.
The schedule change moves the day participants receive their “bids”—acceptance offers from sororities—to Tuesday. “Bid day” was previously on Sunday, and many sororities traditionally hold events for their new members after they received their bids.
Although Goldman said the time change will “discourage drinking,” she and Liu said they do not expect the day to be any less exciting.
“There will still be exciting things, getting to know [the new members], different fun things,” Goldman said.
Liu acknowledged that the schedule change may create conflicts with some participants’ schedules, including athletes playing in away games over the weekend. Still, she said she does not think the issue is unique to this year.
The adjusted schedule accompanies other alterations to rush that sorority members introduced this year. According to Liu, the sororities this year made a greater effort to publicize their rush process to “to emphasize this year...that it’s open to everybody.”
All four sorority chapters published online letters sharing their sorority and recruitment experiences, and some, such as Delta Gamma, created a recruitment video. Goldman said these new initiatives reflect the growing strength of Harvard’s Greek life.
“It’s becoming more mainstream,” she said.
Goldman said she does not yet know how many women will receive bids, but hopes to “have as much retention as possible.”
With that goal in mind, she said, sorority leaders for the first time this year held a pre-rush meeting with participants to inform them about rush expectations and scheduling.
Greek life at Harvard has grown substantially over the last few years. The number of women rushing this year—the majority of whom are freshmen, according to Liu—is significant compared to the average rush classes in years prior to 2011, which was 150. Liu estimates that roughly more than 400 women are currently involved in Harvard’s sororities, although she declined to name each sorority’s size.
—Staff writer Quynh-Nhu Le can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @qnhule.
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