Following the recent trend of a growing Greek presence on campus, 280 women signed up for sorority recruitment this year, matching the record large cohort last spring that sought entrance to one of Harvard’s four sorority chapters.
Of those who rushed, 193 received bids, up from 150 bids just two years ago. The number also represents a significant increase from the 150 women that constituted the average rush class size before 2011.
The Cambridge Panhellenic Council, which consists of representatives from all four of Harvard’s sororities—Alpha Phi, Delta Gamma, Kappa Alpha Theta, and Kappa Kappa Gamma,organizes recruitment.
“From an organizational perspective, we coordinate the booking of hotels, all the logistical aspects of getting invitations to the potential new members,” Stephanie Ferrarie ’18, Vice President of Recruitment of the Cambridge Panhellenic Council, said. “Particularly for us it’s a lot of organizing and communicating with potential new members.”
Greek life has become increasingly popular on campus in recent years. Unrecognized social clubs like fraternities and sororities, as well as off-campus single-gender final clubs, have experienced intensifying administrative scrutiny over the past year, as Dean of the College Rakesh Khurana pushes for many groups to go co-ed.
Although some new recruits had not considered joining a sorority before arriving at Harvard, participants said they were drawn to alternative ways of meeting new people.
“I actually never thought I would rush in the first place. If I went to college at any other school, I probably wouldn’t have,” Sarah Horne ’19, a new member of Kappa Kappa Gamma, said. “But I felt like I needed another community to surround me at Harvard, like I needed another home base.”
The rush consists of three main rounds—a preliminary round in which all potential new members visit the four sororities and meet with chapter members, a second round in which potential new members rank their preferences and are invited back to up to three sororities, and a third "preference round."
“Basically the whole thing is a mutual selection process,” Horne said. “It’s kind of the way they do Med school, so the higher you put something down, the more they want you.”
At the end of the preference round, potential new members sign the membership recruitment acceptance binding agreement for the chapters to which the commit to accepting a bid from. On bid day, the potential new members receive their invitations to join their new chapters.
Allison Yan ’19, a new member of Delta Gamma, said she enjoyed her rush experience.
“It was really fun. I think I talked to so many girls that I never would have spoken to otherwise, and I would go home with a smile literally sewed onto my face because I’ve been smiling and laughing for so long,” Yan said.
While most women who went through recruitment said they enjoyed the process and appreciated the opportunity to meet new people, the long hours added to the stress of the week.
“Personally, I liked meeting a lot of people, but there were definitely times that I wished I was able to do my homework instead of talking to everyone, just because it takes so many hours,” Leah D. Stewart ’19, a new member of Kappa Alpha Theta, said.
“They basically expect you to prioritize rush over everything else,” Yan said. “They strongly warned against having a conflict… so you can have the highest chance of getting a bid. So that part was a little bit stressful for me, just knowing that I have to go to rush, like I have no time to study.”
Nevertheless, Yan said she thought the benefits of Greek life outweighed the intensity of rush.
“I think the comfort of having a group of friends that you can turn to, and be able to have a social group rather than making friends through p-setting or office hours was a huge appeal,” she said.
–Staff Writer Aafreen Azmi can be reached at email@example.com.
–Staff Writer Derek G. Xiao can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @derekgxiao.