May 22, 2020
I’m about to graduate from high school, and I can’t tell you how excited I am for what is to come. I’ve heard my college years will be the best years of my life! I can’t wait to join a sorority.
I do have some worries, though, with everything going on in the world as a result of the coronavirus. I was hoping you could help me, Lenora. What will the fall semester look like? Will recruitment be the same? Will I still have the opportunity to join a sorority and make lifelong friends?
Concerned About COVID
Dear Concerned About COVID,
You are not alone in your concerns! The year 2020 has been a challenging time — and no one can say for sure what the fall semester will look like for college students. What I do know is that many young women in years’ past have experienced and overcome similar challenges like this — including health pandemics, financial crises and wars. Kappa Delta has taught me that resilience, adaptability and a positive attitude come in handy in hard times.
When it comes to sorority recruitment, the process has looked different over the years. And it may look different this year as universities and sororities adapt to what some call the “new normal.” Did you know that back in my day we called the process of welcoming new members “rush”? It only became known as recruitment in recent years.
You may be interested to learn about Kappa Delta’s first rush (or recruitment, excuse me!). After Mary, Sara, Julia and I established our sisterhood at The State Female Normal School, we knew that we needed to invite more women who shared our values to join Kappa Delta and carry on our legacy. That’s where Eunice Sparks comes in! She was bright, driven and the quintessential Kappa Delta woman. We became acquainted with her around campus and chose to initiate her as our first new member only 11 days after our founding. It was that simple. And what a great recruit she was! She went on to be editor of The Angelos and dedicate many years to the organization.
Recruitment changed drastically over the next century. The process became elaborate, much more so than my turning to Eunice and asking her to join our sisterhood. Chapter members hosted parties which, depending on the budget, could be as lavish as a steak dinner at a country club or as simple as a fireside sing-a-long. During World War II, sisters invited “rushees” (now known as potential new members or PNMs) to join them in knitting socks for the troops or wrapping bandages for the Red Cross.
After the war ended and men returned to finish their educations, skits became popular, and chapters across the country adopted fun and lively methods to introduce potential new members to Kappa Delta by singing songs, acting out humorous scenes and wearing matching outfits. Card games such as live blackjack casino games, barn dances and afternoon teas all saw popularity over the years.
In recent years, most universities have held what is called “primary recruitment” where potential new members visit each sorority on campus to meet members and get to know more about the groups’ activities and values. Some chapters also participate in COB, or continuous open bidding, where they recruit members more informally, similar to how we recruited Eunice.
My point, dear Concerned About COVID, is that no matter the climate, no matter the circumstances and no matter the budget of a chapter, recruitment has always been changing and adapting. Kappa Delta’s methods of recruiting new members has evolved with the times and generations. Glamourous parties began to feel frivolous (why have an orchestra serenade when our country is fighting in a war?), and the trends of the past became antiquated (matching dresses were replaced with matching T-shirts). Recruitment changes with the times, and history has proven that.
What has never fallen out of fashion, and I believe never will, are the authentic connections that develop during recruitment. Sisters of the past attempted to bond with potential new members during afternoon teas, just as they do now during primary recruitment. True friendships will never be old-hat and meaningful conversations do not become obsolete. Even at the flashiest of recruitment parties or at the coziest, the goal is to get to know each other on a deeper level. Skits and songs will never compete with that.
To answer your question, I cannot predict how the recruitment process will change in this climate. What I can predict, nay, assure you of, is that sisterhood will remain strong and unyielding. True friendships can be formed no matter the road taken to membership. You can bet on it.