For a large population of the female student body, sorority recruitment season is the most stressful time of the school year. Much of the criticism about sorority recruitment ends up being directed towards individual sororities or the Greek system as a whole; however, these organizations are not to blame. The majority of the problems with sorority recruitment is the result of is its poor timing at the beginning of the year–something that SLU’s administration could easily prevent.
For most schools, recruitment takes place in the weeks prior to the start of school. This is helpful to sorority women because it allows them time to focus solely on preparing for recruitment, without interfering with their classes or other obligations. SLU, however, is unique in that it holds recruitment after school begins. Sorority members are among the most involved students on campus. But adding long, daily practices on top of their other commitments is daunting and causes many girls to overextend themselves. The actual weekend of recruitment typically falls three weeks into school, which happens to be the time when many tests are scheduled and when everyone’s workload begins to pick up. As a result, sorority women end up behind and struggle to catch up.
SLU’s recruitment schedule poses social problems as well. In the time leading up to recruitment, sorority women are asked to keep their contact with any potential new members to a minimum. They must refrain from drinking or socializing with anyone who is not an active sorority member, even if they are of age. This means that after a long summer away from friends, they must isolate themselves for nearly a month. The purpose is to promote a fair recruitment process and most of the sorority women I know are more than willing to make this sacrifice so that potential new members will have the same experience that they did. But this seclusion is not easy, and it leads to even bigger problems once it ends.
“Terrible Tuesday” is the nickname for the Tuesday immediately after bid day. It is the first day that sorority members are allowed to drink and socialize with their non-Greek classmates. While of course, each student absolutely has a responsibility to drink safely and in moderation, I believe that the weeks of forced isolation contribute to a culture of binge drinking and dangerous behavior that students would not normally partake in. If SLU was serious about promoting self-care and a well-rounded, healthy lifestyle, it would not bring its students to these extremes. I had never heard of Terrible Tuesday until I came to SLU and experienced the mass chaos that ensued after recruitment. You don’t hear about many school-wide, binge-drinking catastrophes occurring annually at other universities, because they just don’t happen. Terrible Tuesday is not a time-honored tradition at every school with Greek life, just at SLU. At most schools, sororities can hang out with old friends and make new ones as soon as the rest of the school student body moves in, because recruitment is already over. Asking sorority women to sever all contact with non-Greek individuals for the entire first month of school is not natural.
Recruitment doesn’t have to be this way. Faculty mentors and sorority advisors have reached out to SLU to move recruitment to before classes start, but the University refuses to budge. Allowing early recruitment would mean letting certain students move in early, which means paying to keep those buildings open. It may cost money, but allowing early recruitment would promote a more balanced lifestyle in its students and might lead to higher retention rates and better GPAs in sororities.
Sorority women across the U.S. usher in new members every year, and every year SLU asks one of its most involved groups of women to stretch themselves a little further in order to save money. If schools around the country can front the cost to promote self-care and moderation for their students, I don’t think it is too much to ask for SLU to do the same.