Panhellenic recruitment numbers dropped for the first time in nine years for formal recruitment this spring. The number of women who registered for recruitment fell from 1,432 in 2017 to 1,278 in 2018.
Registration had seen a steady increase since 2009 when 630 women underwent the sorority recruitment process. Each year, it gained a steady number of women, peaking in 2017.
Recruitment in 2018 occurred during the end of the blanket suspension of Interfraternity Council chapters at Ohio State.
Even with the drop in recruitment for the first time in a decade, Kayleigh Deitz, a former vice president of public relations for Ohio State’s Panhellenic Association, said the lower numbers were not surprising.
“[The Interfraternity Council] suspension did not affect our numbers,” Deitz said. “We were exactly where we expected to be considering the nationwide drop in numbers due to the negative light on Greek life.”
Formal recruitment occurs at the beginning of the Spring Semester. Women receive bids, or invitations, to join a sorority. The process occurs over two weekends in January, with a different round each day. Potential members visit each house and meet with members of the sorority in an interview-like process that is based on mutual selection.
Of the 1,278 women who participated in the formal recruitment process at Ohio State, 778 bids were extended for membership, meaning 500 women dropped out during the process or did not choose to join a chapter.
There are currently 17 PHA chapters at Ohio State, and 16 chapters participated in the formal recruitment process this year.
In order to ensure sorority life at Ohio State upholds the university’s values, each new member class will meet with members of the Office of Student Life. This is a normal occurrence.
“Sorority and Fraternity Life staff will be meeting with each new member class to connect them to university resources and help them understand the expectations of joining a fraternity or sorority at Ohio State,” said Kate Butler, associate director of Sorority and Fraternity Life.
Though it was not part of the formal recruitment process this year, Kappa Kappa Gamma is back on campus after a two-year hiatus. The sorority was suspended in April 2015 for a new-member hazing incident.
A majority of the current members of the Panhellenic community voted against bringing the chapter back to Ohio State. However, the Office of Student Life decided to go against the students’ vote, and announced in May the chapter would recolonize.
The sorority conducted informal recruitment after formal recruitment ended, meaning it had representatives from different chapters, as well as its national headquarters, come to the university to recruit women who did not join sororities through formal recruitment.
“Kappa Kappa Gamma is pleased to once again become part of the Ohio State University Greek-letter community. Over the past several months, we have been working closely with the administration and Panhellenic Association to reinstate our chapter and begin recruiting new members,” Kari Kittrell-Poole, executive director of KKG, said in a statement.
Editor’s note: the author of this article is now a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. This article was written prior to her involvement with the chapter, and Owen Daugherty also contributed to this story.