I have thought about this for a while and decided to finally put it down somewhere. I think of women’s recruitment, specifically organizations a part of the National Panhellenic Conference, and cannot help but wonder, there has to be a better way. The amount of time, money, energy, and human resources spent on recruitment activities, especially formal recruitment, is astronomical. The planning, practicing, purchasing. These are all things that could be dramatically changed, and in my opinion, would help transform our chapters for the better.
Here’s my thought. Put all of the PNMs in the same space, let’s say a gym. Let’s put the sorority women in that same space at the same time. Tell the women they have four hours to determine who goes where and each chapter needs to have the same amount of women. If the chapters cannot figure it out, then no one gets any new members.
BOOM! Recruitment is done in four hours. No RFM. No ICS/bid matching. No extensive budgets. No forcing members to wear ridiculous outfits. Just four hours of conversations and getting to know each other. Only four hours of recruitment.
Would this ever happen? Oh hell no. No one would ever support it. But my question is why? I asked a couple of my students and they stared at me as if I was crazy. I asked what is the biggest issue with recruitment. They stated chapters talking about each other. I asked if they felt chapters would be likely to do that if they were all in the same room and they said no. Problem 1 solved. I asked what they could do with the additional money they saved. They said they could decrease dues, have more money for sisterhoods, do more recognition for academics, to plan and execute larger philanthropy events, and to send more women to leadership conferences. That all sounds really good to me. They made a comment about the amount of time spent. I pointed out 4 hours is collectively longer than what they spend with the PNMs during the four days of recruitment. Then I drove the point home a little bit further when I referenced the scholarship report. How about instead of focusing on recruitment the first two weeks of classes, they actually focused on their classes. 100 sorority women spending 100+ hours a year on recruitment-related tasks is 10,000 hours of potential community service wasted.
What about all the time and energy involved not just by the young women, but the institution staff, alumnae, advisors, and NPC volunteers? I myself spend over 60 hours that weekend alone. That does not even consider the amount of time spent leading up to the event in planning, informational meetings, training, reviewing recruitment rules, etc… I would estimate that I spend 150 hours on Panhellenic recruitment each year. That is a month of my “40-hour-a-week” job. That also doesn’t include additional university staff time for reserving spaces, room set-up, and catering.
The amount of hours spent by advisors, alumnae, and volunteers is up there too. I know for a fact that many take days off of work to help chapters with recruitment. That has a further impact beyond the college-setting. The amount of driving to pick up supplies. The amount of trash generated. All things that could be reduced by creating a change to the system.
To me, it seems that this change would create more solutions than problems. Are there kinks that would need to be worked out? Of course. My thought is that because women are so accustomed to a system they don’t think that there are other ways of being in the world. There is no other way to do recruitment. It worked for them, so it should work for everyone else. I want them to open their eyes and think differently about recruitment. Perhaps my suggestion isn’t the greatest, but let’s revision what we are doing to make sure that it is the most effective use of our time, energy, and resources.