UI follows national trend with more women joining sororities


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The number of women going through formal sorority recruitment is on the rise nationally — and the University of Iowa is no different.

This fall, 131 more women went through sorority recruitment than last year, bringing this year’s total to 872. UI Panhellenic Council officials said the dramatic increase in the number of women is a positive thing, and the council made some changes to accommodate the growth in prospective new members.

Nationally, the number of undergraduate members rose 15 percent from 2008 to 2011, according to the National Panhellenic Conference Annual Report, which includes 26 national and international sororities. The number of undergraduate members in 2011 was 285,543.

Brittany Barnes, graduate assistant for UI fraternity and sorority life, said the Panhellenic Council reviewed many aspects of the recruitment process, which spanned two weekends from Aug. 23 to Monday.

“The council has certainly looked at the number of events members are supposed to have,” she said. “For example, the first round of recruitment had 15 events in two days; this year, there are 16 events.”

Recruitment staff also visited different chapters during the first weekend of recruitment to make sure they were adjusting to the influx well, Barnes said. 

“The recruitment staff have traveled to a number of chapter events to learn about recruitment and to make sure the chapters are adjusting well,” she said. “By and large, I would say the chapters are handling the changes spectacularly. We’ve heard nothing but positive things.”

Barnes said the separate chapter’s budgets were raised to $3,200 in order to provide more beverages and food for the women while visiting the different houses on campus. The funds for the budget come from the chapters themselves.

Iowa State University and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign have also seen a jump in the number of women participating.

Katie Cran, an assistant director of greek affairs at Iowa State, said officials have seen an increase of around 100 women this fall recruitment.

“We also saw an increase in recruitment this year,” she said. “That was a positive change and with that comes some changes [to the process]. We saw a handful of sophomore and transfer students. There was a growth in all areas — that was a change of, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re not just dealing with first-year students.’ ”

The University of Illinois has also seen a growth in numbers the past few years. Danielle Schuck, the vice president of public relations for the Panhellenic Council at that school, write in an email the university had 1,454 women go through recruitment last year.

In 2010, officials reorganized UI recruitment to take place the first two weekends of the fall semester. In previous years, recruitment took place the week before classes, forcing participants to move in early.

In 2011, 741 women registered for recruitment and 481 women finished recruitment. Though officials would not release the number of women who finished recruitment this year, they did say their retention rates were higher than last fall.

Though it was a “shock” to see that many women go through recruitment, UI Panhellenic officials said they handled the increase very well.

“I don’t think that we have quite seen a jump like that in just one year ever,” said Rachel Zeitlin, the vice president of recruitment for the Panhellenic Council. “I think we’ve handled I perfectly. We noticed the trend from women jumping up this summer, we actually planned for this many women going through recruitment and we were very well prepared for it.”

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