Women who don’t get into sororities often feel rejected after hearing that they’ll “find their place.” Illustration by Cienna Roget.

Recruitment is a weekend fueled by women empowerment, or at least that’s what many sorority women say. But there’s another side: Some women are left feeling worthless by the end of Recruitment.

They were rejected.

Students run home to their new sororities after recruitment. Photo courtesy of AJ Duff.

The hard part was watching the enthusiastic cheers of celebrating sorority women at Wilson Field after recruitment, said sophomore journalism major Cienna Roget:

“The sororities that I had felt a connection with dropped me, and, finally, after the sorority that I was a legacy in dropped me, I felt that there was something wrong with me. I thought that I must not be pretty enough, skinny enough, funny enough, outgoing enough.”

With multiple affiliated friends, sophomore business major Haley Noorani heard amazing things about sororities and thought Greek life was for her, which is why-after withdrawing from rush last year- she signed up for recruitment a second time. She thought the process would be easier this year because she knew women in multiple chapters. After this year’s recruitment, Noorani was left angry. Rejected.

“We are letting these women who preach about women empowerment and feminism rank and grade other women, based off of a system that they have created,” Noorani said. 

What angered her most, she said, is that multiple sources, including some at Panhellenic, had told her that recruitment almost always works out a second time. “Which I can tell you is B.S,” Noorani said.

Greek recruitment is huge at Chapman. About one-third of the undergraduate population is Greek affiliated. That’s broken down to 8 sororities and 12 fraternities. A new sorority is on board for the next school year.

Women from each of the eight sororities at Chapman University pose together after recruitment. Photo courtesy of AJ Duff.

Panhellenic works year-round to plan recruitment, which is held over a two-week period at the beginning of the spring semester. Unlike the informal fraternity rush process that encourages students to visit only the frats they’re interested in, sororities meet each potential new member (PNM). There were nearly 700 this year. 

“The current recruitment process is the most efficient we can make it with the volume of people signing up each year,” said Panhellenic president Shannon Keane.

But included in those recruitment numbers this last time were 131 who were not accepted. Or, in their eyes: Rejected.

Panhellenic president Shannon Keane, while a huge supporter of sorority life and a member of Alpha Gamma Delta, said she can understand the pain of rejection.

“The women should keep in mind, it just wasn’t meant to be,” the junior major said. “There will be a new sorority that will be joining us in the coming year. I think that’s a wonderful opportunity for women to find a place on campus. If they did not find a home during recruitment, being a part of the colonization of this new chapter could be very rewarding.”

Recruitment week can be its own reward, said Javi Hunt, junior public relations and advertising major, now vice president of programming at Delta Gamma. “It’s like 10 years of puberty and chick flicks in a week. It’s really dizzying, really insightful, and unexpectedly emotional.”

Women who make it almost always go on to love their sororities. 

Julianna Amado, a junior business administration major now in Pi Beta Phi, likes that many of her new sisters have the same major or minor. But enjoys a wider network of friends too:

“I’ve definitely gained a lot through my time in Greek life. It’s given me the chance to grow

academically, personally, and socially. I have met the best people in and out of my chapter, it’s given me the chance to meet people I normally wouldn’t have outside of my major/minor.”

Caitlin Neuville, a junior business administration major and now in Kappa Alpha Theta, agrees.

“Some of the most valuable things to me have been leadership skills, working under pressure, and being able to build relationships that go beyond the four years of college.”

But those are the experiences that the rejected students had also wanted.

Freshman Kate Mallory went through four complete days of recruitment, confident she had found a new home of sisters. She assumed she would be walking over to Memorial Hall at the end along with the other new sorority members. Then came the envelope she thought was her invitation. It was an envelope filled with bad news.

“To this day, I wonder what I did wrong. It really makes you question if you’re even worthy enough to have friends,” Mallory said.

Those rejected included some who didn’t find the process as “efficient” as Panhellenic’s goal was.

“You really only have 15 minutes on the first day to talk. I felt as if I was an awful person,” Mallory said. “It seemed like the girls I talked to hated me, if they dropped me after such a short conversation.”

There are various studies online explaining the psychological effects sorority recruitment has on women’s mental health. A University of Pennsylvania studied showed a high level of anxiety among freshmen women who were rejected.

“It could have negative effects on psychological well-being, including depression, anxiety, self-esteem, perceived social support, and sense of belonging,” the study states.

This can be true even if a student is recruited, but rejected by the sorority she really wanted.

“It is our aim to make it a smooth process, but it can be difficult when (recruits) start comparing themselves with their friends,“ Keane said. “It’s easy to get wrapped up in how others are managing their experience.”

Alya Hijazi, a junior journalism and political science major in Kappa Alpha Theta, knows from friends how true that is.

“The reality is that most girls get cut from sororities they really want during the recruitment process. In the end, joining a sorority is worth those moments of rejection. I found myself in a sorority with women who not only share the same values as me but also cherish each other.”

Not very comforting, however, to those rejected by ALL sororities. 

Sororities and fraternities are constantly wearing matching apparel, tabling in the Piazza, and posting pictures on social media. There’s also all those Greek activities in front of Memorial Hall for all to see. These are constant reminders for women that recruitment did not work out for them.

But even those who make it wish the process could be better. 

“There are a lot of flaws with the recruitment process,” said Caitlin Neuville. “If it were up to me sorority recruitment would be better if it looked like fraternity recruitment. This is because it would give you the chance to be yourself and act as you normally would without feeling the pressure of looking perfect and saying the perfect things. It needs to be more of a conversation about yourself and your life, rather than how can I get the most brownies points out of this conversation.

Javari Hung adds:

“Ethnic demographics and representation is something that needs to be improved on. I’m the type of person who won’t ignore that and I do my best to amend those circumstances.”

She further recommends:

“It can be very discouraging to see hundreds of girls screaming on bid day, and that’s not you. It’d be helpful for Panhellenic to provide professional counselors or have a protocol to ensure women feel supported regardless.”

In the meantime, those rejected are trying to cope.

“I told myself that if it didn’t work out the second time then it wasn’t meant to be so I shouldn’t be too upset about it but rejection still hurts no matter how often it happens,” Noorani said.

PNMs after 2020 recruitment. Photo courtesy of AJ Duff.
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