More female students rushed sororities this year than any other in Yale’s history.
On Jan. 22, 236 potential new members, or PNMs, registered for the rush process for Yale’s three on-campus sororities: Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi. After three rush rounds over the course of a week, 141 girls received bids. As last year saw 200 PNM’s begin rush, sorority leaders said they were pleased with the rise in awareness and interest in Greek life on campus.
“We were very surprised, actually,” said Jéssica Leão ‘16, an officer on Yale’s Panhellenic Council, the representative government body that coordinates sorority recruitment. “We expected the number to rise above 200, but we were shocked to rise all the way to 236.”
Leão attributed the boost in numbers to the Panhellenic Council’s expanded outreach programs before recruitment this year, which included social media publicity and informational sessions for PNM’s.
Panhellenic Council president Morgan White ’15 oversaw the implementation of this outreach as well as the general organization and streamlining of the rush process, Leão said.
According to Mackenzie Lee ’16, a member of the Theta executive board who rushed last year, the clarity of this year’s rush process represented a significant improvement.
“Panhellenic was much more present in this year’s rush,” she said. “They were a lot more transparent about the process.”
For the first time this year, the process included a group of nine recruitment counselors, members of sororities who temporary disaffiliated from their organizations for the duration of rush. Each PNM was assigned to one of these recruitment counselors, whose job was to provide support for PNM’s and answer any questions about logistics.
While Leão said the recruitment counselors were a success and will be a permanent addition to the sorority recruitment process, she added that this aspect of rush will likely improve with each passing year and that more training for the counselors will aid the process.
“We would like to make it as unbiased as possible so that the girls are acting as actual counselors and not representatives of their sororities,” she said.
The increase in the number of PNM’s this year sparked a renewed conversation about the creation of a fourth sorority. Although in 2011, the National Panhellenic Conference blocked the effort because one sorority, Kappa Kappa Gamma, did not fully fill its pledge class — a prerequisite for introducing a new group — sorority members interviewed said they hope heightened interest and the increased size of Kappa’s pledge class will result in this notion being reconsidered.
It is difficult for the existing sororities to expand their quota for the pledge class size much beyond the current number of 45 students, Leão said.
“Yale Greek culture traditionally has been inclusive: If you want to be in a sorority, you can be,” Lee said. “I now realize that there are so many people who weren’t fortunate enough to get bids and I wish there was another sorority to accommodate everyone.”
Leão said Panhellenic will be having its first post-recruitment meeting in the coming weeks. The proposed new sorority will be addressed, along with the positives and negatives of this year’s process, she added.
A student who entered the rush process but asked to remain anonymous because she did not ultimately receive a bid said she found the rush process disappointing.
“It was really disheartening, frankly,” she said. “I don’t think that this should be an issue at a place like Yale, and while I understand that it is a difficult situation and they can’t take everyone, the computer-generated email I received telling me I wouldn’t be receiving a bid felt a little cold.”
Out of four sorority members interviewed, all said they thought an additional sorority should be brought to campus in order to give out more bids. Leão added that hopes to see a new sorority arrive soon — potentially by 2016.
Pi Beta Phi, the youngest sorority on campus, came to Yale in 1989.