Dear parent, guardian or supporter of a potential new member,
I am writing you this letter as a past Panhellenic advisor; every year, I had the pleasure of speaking with parents, guardians and family members about ways to support their student through the recruitment process. No matter who represented the student, everyone wanted the same thing, to help their potential new member (PNM) through an extensive and confusing process. This year is a little different. No matter what college/university or method of recruiting, we as a community need to band together to support our PNMs as we navigate this new recruitment process.
So your student is going to college and wants to join a sorority? Congratulations, and welcome to the family! This is not only a new and exciting journey for your student, but also for you. Although each journey is different, together you can support each other through this new experience. As a PNM, your student may experience many different emotions. There may be moments where they are excited, confused or overwhelmed. Panhellenic recruitment has never looked like this, so even if you were in a fraternity or sorority, our understanding of how it must feel to meet your future sorority sisters at a time like this is not possible. Normally, PNMs are told to not judge a book by its cover, to follow their heart and not be swayed by a chapter’s social status or other’s opinions. This is even more true in these virtual times because your students aren’t seeing these chapters in their natural habitats. Students are seeing chapters try to provide insight on who they are virtually, just like you are trying to help your student show their most authentic self virtually. We will never truly be able to understand what this new member class will experience.
It is incredibly important that you, as their person, create a safe environment where you do not provide advice, but rather a space where they can share their feelings and anxieties without judgment. This year, PNMs are not going to have the same issues we are familiar with from past recruitments. They are going to need someone who reminds them to be true to themselves and know what they want out of a sisterhood. Remind them not to get stuck in the weeds of the process, not to worry about who they talked with or what they did via zoom, but to focus on conversations and making human connections to find the feeling of home, comfort and acceptance. You, as a confidant, are their safe space to process the different feelings they may experience. It is extremely essential for you not to put your preconceived thoughts in the dialogue. I have provided some neutral questions you can ask to support your student’s recruitment process.
· What is important to you when it comes to your sorority experience?
· What are the values you want to know about the sorority?
· What were the conversations like?
· Were there any people that you feel a connection with?
· Can you see yourself as a member of this chapter? Why?
· Did you feel comfortable to have deep conversations with the women you spoke to?
This year will be different and will be challenging for both recruiters and PNMs. There will be a need for flexibility and understanding, but at the end of the day, you, your student and the sororities want the same thing for all PNMs. To have their own recruitment experience and to find their sisters for life.