All four of Yale’s Panhellenic sororities — Alpha Phi, Kappa Alpha Theta, Kappa Kappa Gamma and Pi Beta Phi — announced there would be a virtual recruitment process for new members next semester in a virtual question and answer panel on Tuesday with all four chapter presidents.
That is because most prospective new members are first years, who largely will not be enrolled on campus come spring. But chapter presidents acknowledged to the 50 students who attended a Tuesday’s panel that most recruitment programming for next semester is still up in the air. The dates of recruitment are still not confirmed, but the dates of recruitment will likely happen during the last week of January or the first two weeks of February.
“A lot of the change that can take place, you’ll have a say in,” said Danielle Martin ’21, who is the president of Pi Phi until her term concludes after November break, to the gathered first years. “You’ll have an opportunity to leave [Pi Phi] better than it was when you first joined.”
Pitching a sorority during a pandemic — when mixers, in-person community-building events and access to the house are curtailed by public health guidelines — is no easy task.
Kayli Cutler ’21, who coordinates recruitment across all four sororities as the president of Yale’s Panhellenic Council, encouraged prospective members to consider joining a sorority next semester as an “investment” for future years. With pandemic restrictions in place, programming might include coffee chats, game nights and virtual workshops, panelists said.
Current Theta President Caroline Moore ’21, a former editor for the News, added that the chapter has given her a “whole world of resources” — such as career and major advice from women in different class years.
“If you are not going to be in New Haven, having this community is important, especially now,” said Alpha Phi President Olivia Probst ’22.
But creating community through joining a sorority might be a harder sell while many Greek organizations across the country contend with their reputations of racial and socioeconomic exclusivity.
According to Cutler, all prospective members who made it to the third round of recruitment — referred to as Preference Day — received a bid from at least one of the four sororities last year.
Chapter presidents also said that financial aid is available to reduce barriers to entry for prospective members.
“We don’t want dues to impact if you can join,” Probst said.
The exact breakdown of dues is still uncertain, Martin said. She promised new members that those fees will be announced by the “first or second round” of recruitment.
Moore added that Theta’s national organization has reduced their national dues this year. Each sorority runs an internal financial aid program independent of Yale’s Financial Aid office.
Usually, every member’s dues are split between an annual fee sent to their national organization, chapter dues, house access and rent fees. New members typically have an additional initiation fee and facilities fee tacked on to the bill. For example, Theta’s dues can run upwards of $700 during a member’s first year.
Jennifer Yakubov ’24 said that she is leaning towards rushing, primarily because she feels confined to social life within her residential college and class year.
“[Pauli] Murray is already so far away from everyone, and I don’t know too many people who are older … because of the way we came into the school,” Yakubov said. “I’m thinking of it as a way to meet women on campus and feel less isolated.”
Yakubov noted that she was drawn to each sorority’s community service initiatives, though she said she was unsure whether she was willing to commit paying dues for virtual events.
Ana Barragan ’24, who is planning to rush, added that she is excited to be “surrounded by women who empower other women and find a nice sense of community and alumni.”
“I feel like COVID has taken so much for me and I’m not going to let it take this away,” she said.
Cathleen Liang ’24, who is interested in rushing, expressed reservations that “a crucial part of sorority life just can’t be replicated off campus.”
Alpha Phi, the most recent sorority to start a chapter at Yale, was established in 2015.
Emily Tian| firstname.lastname@example.org