Greek Life

Student Affairs

What A Parent Should Know

The Auburn Panhellenic Council and Auburn Greek Life have been closely monitoring the COVID-19 developments and its potential impact on our fall recruitment experience. We also reviewed recommendations from the National Panhellenic Conference (NPC), the governing body of the 26 member organization sororities, who recently released a Recruitment Contingencies Task Force Report encouraging the use of virtual and/or in-person recruitment with physical distancing guidelines. In collaboration with Greek Life, chapter leadership, advisors, campus partners, and NPC representatives, Auburn Panhellenic revised the recruitment format to enhance the safety of our community. As we await Auburn University’s announcement about fall instruction, we wanted to share Panhellenic’s plan for Primary Recruitment.

Revised Schedule and Format

The revised dates for Primary Recruitment are August 8-15. Plans include three options for virtual and in-person rounds: 

Option 1: Normal Operations

Virtual: Ice Water Teas & Philanthropy Rounds

In-person: Sisterhood & Preference Rounds

Option 2: Elevated Risk

Virtual: Ice Water Teas, Philanthropy, and Sisterhood Rounds

In-person: Preference Round

Option 3: Immediate Risk

All Virtual Rounds

Our hope is to utilize Option 1. However, we will adhere to Auburn University and relevant federal, state, and local guidelines, keeping the health and safety of our community at the forefront of any decisions made. If there is an elevated risk, or immediate risk, we will move to option 2 or option 3, respectively.

Information about Bid Day

While Bid Day is tentatively scheduled for August 15, the specific details are still being finalized. Due to health and safety concerns, we are not able to host parents, families, and other guests at Bid Day activities. This was not an easy decision, but we feel this is the safest way to allow our potential new members and their new sisters to have a Bid Day experience.

Recruitment Week Guidelines: 
Masks will be required for both PNMs and active chapter members during all in-person rounds of recruitment.
There will be the option for PNMs who are at a higher risk for severe illness or immunocompromised to participate in recruitment via a fully virtual experience. Should a PNM experience any COVID-19 symptoms, or test positive during the recruitment process, there will be an option to complete the recruitment experience process virtually.

There will be a thorough cleaning of the recruiting spaces in between parties.PNMs will still receive a t-shirt to wear for Philanthropy Round, as well as a hard copy of the PNM Handbook. Due to this, as well as additional costs for recruitment, some of which are still unknown given the circumstances, we will maintain the No Refund Policy for recruitment registration.

While recruitment is stressful for our potential members actually participating in the process, it can be equally stressful for their parents, who care about their children.  Some parents are well acquainted with the Greek community and are sorority members themselves, but to others it is a completely foreign concept.  For both groups, it is important to familiarize yourself with the process before it begins so that you will be prepared to help your daughter as she participates in recruitment.  Below are some important points for parents to remember:

To some college women, sorority membership sounds like a great idea.  They look forward to having something to help them socially and academically while providing structure.  But, some incoming freshmen look at it as an unwieldy commitment and don’t look forward to juggling sorority membership and getting adjusted to college life.  It is not uncommon for women to participate in recruitment and even join solely because of the pressure from their parents.  Whether you were Greek or not, it is important to understand that, especially at Auburn, it is not necessary to be Greek if you want to be involved and make friends. There are many successful students at Auburn who choose to remain unaffiliated.  So, check with your daughter to make sure this is something she really wants to do. If the case is that she’s uncertain and just needs encouragement, don’t be afraid to encourage her.  But, if she does not want to participate, help her find other ways to have a great college experience.  If she is uninterested in completing her own registration or does not look forward to participating, those could be cues that she would rather do other things at college.  Our Student Government sponsors many activities and programs as does the University Program Council.  She can also join one of our many Student Organizations and Clubs on campus.  Remember that fall recruitment is not the only way to join, so if she changes her mind later, she can join at a later time.

Coming to college is an important time for a young person.  These women are taking the first steps toward entering adulthood.  Our registration process is online and easy.  Too many times we receive calls from mothers who have submitted their daughter’s information incorrectly and want to change it.  In most cases, the sororities have already received the incorrect information and it draws attention to the potential member’s registration to send out corrections. The best way to make sure that your daughter’s information is correct, and is what she wants to send in, is to let her do it herself.  If you want to be present you can assist her with grammar or punctuation, but your daughter should be the one at the keyboard entering in her own application.

Also, when the week of recruitment arrives, the most important thing you can do is encourage her, but don’t influence her decisions.  Make sure to encourage her to choose what sororities she wants to visit.  If you know that she wants to be in a sorority, but feels discouraged, encourage her to give them all a chance.  You can begin that now with talking about sorority membership rather than just a sorority.  Now is not the time to decide what chapter to join.  The recruitment week is when she will meet each chapter and see what they are offering.  You won’t be there to see what she sees, so helping her realize now that she’s the one that gets to decide will help her remember that later.

As your daughter moves away for the first time, we understand the urge to be near her and protect her.  We also understand that you want her to have friends and fit in and be like her peers.  But, moving to college with someone else in tow does not make her like everyone else.  The best way for her to meet others and really get to know them is for her to be able to devote her time to the people she is meeting, rather than spending her time with whoever came down for the week.  Also, recruitment week is jam packed with activities for her. Even though recruitment parties don’t go on all day, there are things she must attend from about 7:30 each morning until as late as 7 or 8 pm.   Parents are not allowed to attend any recruitment events, so if you come to Auburn for the week of recruitment, there will be very little chance for you to interact with her because she will be very busy with her Pi Chi and recruitment group. So many women move down for recruitment, she will have an easy time getting a partner to go with her to work out or make a trip to the grocery store.

However, every sorority has many moms and dads helping out behind the scenes.  Recruitment at Auburn runs smoothly, in large part, because of the help from parents.  So, once your daughter joins a sorority, they would love your help in future years.  This would not only allow you to actually see your daughter, but would let you have fun doing things with the other moms.

Your daughter’s journey through recruitment is her own and it is up to her to share her experiences with you.  If a parent calls The Office of Greek Life, which houses the Panhellenic Council, with questions, we are very limited as to what we can share with you.  We can’t tell you which chapters invited her back and we can’t tell you why a particular chapter released her.  In fact, we aren’t privy to that information either.  Each chapter has its own selection process that it follows with direction from alumnae advisors who are well versed in Panhellenic and sorority policies.  They simply submit their invitations to us and we process them.  Once preferences are made, we can’t tell you which choices your daughter made and we can’t tell you where your daughter placed on any certain list.  What we can tell you is that each chapter has a democratic process of membership selection and that the lists are checked multiple times before submission to our office.  In addition, each potential member makes her own selections and, once made, they are final. Potential members are not allowed to go back and make their own changes to their choices and preferences, so we will certainly not allow any changes to be made upon instructions from a parent.

There is no doubt that the number one concern parents have regarding recruitment is “Will my daughter’s feelings get hurt?”  This is certainly a valid concern.  Having heard statistics and horror stories, they fear for their daughter in recruitment.  But, the outlook is not nearly as dark as many perceive.  From 2017 to 2018, Auburn Panhellenic sororities offered bids to 88.49% of the women who signed up to participate in sorority recruitment.  Many people hear that number and assume that the other 11.51% were released from recruitment, but that is not the case.  In fact, it is a much smaller number of potential members that reach a point when they are without options in formal recruitment and released from the process.

Over the past 2 years, only 2.07% of potential members were released from recruitment, either during the week or on Bid Day.  We know that .7% were true releases in that they reached a point in the week when they received no invitations.  However, the remaining 1.37% of them were released on Bid Day.  That 1.37% is made of 45 women (over a two year period), who all listed fewer options than those available to them in their final preferences.  So, of the 45 women released on Bid Day, all were released because they chose to list only one or two sororities in their preferences and would have been placed in a chapter had they maximized their options for joining.  In other words, all of them would have received a bid from a sorority had they simply been more open minded and listed all of their options.

Although it is a small proportion of our potential members, the women released from recruitment are a very important population to us.  Here are some of the scenarios in which a potential member might be released:

  • Some potential members will reach a point in the week when no chapters invite them back for the next round of Recruitment events. Be aware that this might happen at any time.  As mentioned above, this happens with about 2.07% of potential members.  The number of invitations a woman receives at one round is not indicative of whether or not she might be released at the next.  If a potential member has two chapters inviting her back after the first round of parties, it is very possible that she will attend these parties all the way to preference round and receive a bid.  Also, some releases are women who received the full amount of invitations the day before.  It is important to know that most sororities will make their largest releases at the beginning of the week.  So, most potential members will not receive the full amount of invitations after this round.  Keep that in mind when talking to your daughter and don’t take a low amount of invitations as a sign of an impending release.
  • The other way that potential members are released from recruitment involves not receiving a bid through bid matching.  When a potential member submits her preferences, Panhellenic uses a system that will work to place her in her first choice.  If we are unable, we will then begin trying to place her in her second choice.  The actual mechanics of the system are too difficult to explain, but if a potential member is not placed, it means that she was ranked low in the preference list of all chapters she indicated a willingness to join.  The order you rank the sororities in your preference selections affects which chapter you join, but it can’t change whether you receive a bid or not.  However, most potential members who are not matched with a sorority are left unmatched because they chose not to list a particular sorority.  In most cases, women who are released in this way would have received a bid had they maximized their options by indicating a preference for every chapter they attended for preference round.  Please know that the sorority they would have matched would be the one they chose not to list, but they still would have had a bid.  It is a misconception that listing a chapter you truly don’t want to join will help you get a bid into the one that you want.  This is not true.  Listing all of your options increases your chance of getting a bid in general.

Please know that the potential members who are released from recruitment are still important to us.  We have recruitment counselors (Pi Chis) who will work closely with groups of 10 to 15 potential members throughout the week.  When a potential member is released from recruitment, she is notified one on one by her Pi Chi at the earliest opportunity so she does not find out while others are present and accepting invitations.  Her Pi Chi will still try to involve her in group activities outside of recruitment.  Some released potential new members do choose to stay involved with their groups.  The Pi Chis also make a special effort to keep in touch with all group members and to help them get involved with other things on campus as the year goes on.

f 88.49% of Auburn’s potential members joined and 2.07% were released from recruitment, that means over 9.44% of potential members withdrew from recruitment.  In the recruitment surveys conducted last year, the information provided by the potential members showed that not receiving an invitation from the chapter they most desired was overwhelmingly the top reason that potential members gave for withdrawing (about 70% listed it), often while they are still receiving invitations from five or more chapters.  This scenario is unfortunate for our chapters and for the potential member who might be an asset to a chapter if she would only give membership there a chance.

It is also important that potential members be realistic about the possibilities of ending up in one particular group.  With eighteen sororities and 88.49% joining, on average, that means that each sorority ends up with 4.92% of the total pool of potential members.  So, someone who attends recruitment with only one sorority in mind has about a one in twenty chance of joining that one sorority.  This is unfortunate because with eighteen sororities full of wonderful Auburn women, it’s easy to find the value in any group, provided you don’t make up your mind ahead of time.
In keeping with this concept, it is our policy that each potential member will attend the most parties that she can attend.  In other words, if the potential members are being scheduled for a seven party round, the potential members who receive more than seven invitations must attend seven parties in that round.  They may not choose a smaller number.  If a potential member receives fewer than seven invitations, she must accept them all.  This is our effort to help them maximize their options by investigating all that’s available to them.  When a potential member indicates her final preferences at the end of recruitment, she is not required to list every chapter she attended that day, although Auburn Panhellenic  does encourage that for women who truly desire to be a sorority member.

Each chapter is limited in the number of invitations that they may offer at any particular time.  Not receiving an invitation from a favorite chapter can leave the feelings of a potential member hurt.  But, this is a time that she needs to consider whether she wants to be a member of a sorority or she wants to be a member of that sorority.  If she wants to receive the benefits of sorority membership, then she should move on from the groups she will no longer be attending and focus on the groups that chose to invite her back.  They all have wonderful members and do exciting things, so she should think about which ones are the best fit for her.  Often, potential members will completely withdraw from the recruitment process over not receiving one particular invitation and soon regret it.  In the heat of the moment, they feel that they can’t be happy in any other chapter.  Once recruitment ends and the semester is underway, they see great things coming from chapters they were unwilling to consider but are no longer able to join.  Withdrawing from recruitment is a big step and should be carefully considered.

At Auburn, we have historically used an accept/regret model of invitations.  This means that after each round of parties, each potential member received a list of chapters inviting her back and then made selections about which invitations to accept.  In 2007, we began using the priority accept model.  In the priority accept model, each potential member reports to us as soon as parties end for the day.  She then gives us a ranked list of the sororities in preference order.  For example, if we have just ended 18 party round and 13 party round is next, each potential member lets us know which 13 parties would be on her ideal schedule and then the other five in preference order.  Then, the sororities give us a list of their invitations.  Our system first tries to see which of those 13 have invited her back.  If one does not invite her back, the system then tries to see if she was invited back to her next preference, and then so on, until her schedule is full.  The potential member then receives a schedule letting her know where she will go the next day.  If a potential member has a favorite chapter and they do not appear on her schedule, it is not because some other chapter wanted her more or that Panhellenic thought she would be a better fit elsewhere, it is because that chapter did not issue her an invitation.  There has been some confusion about potential members having sororities on their schedule that they “dropped.”  In this method, the potential member does not “drop” any sororities unless they have more invitations than they need.  If the chapters on a potential member’s schedule are from the bottom of the ranked list, it is because the ones on the top did not issue her an invitation.  Think of it this way:  If a potential member goes to review a list of invitations, as in accept/regret, she already has a mental list of where she would most like to go.  In priority accept, she gives us that list ahead of time, and we try to give her what she wants, if it is available.  It’s like waiting in a fast food line and getting out of line, but first telling a friend, “I want a hamburger, but get me a hotdog if they are out of burgers.”  She will get what she gets whether she is the one speaking to the cashier or not.

The priority accept process is confusing for some people who are used to the accept/regret model, but here are some reasons that we use this method:

  1. A benefit to the potential members is that they get to make selections while their impressions are still fresh on their minds and they haven’t been changed by hearing the impressions of others.
  2. A benefit to the chapters is that they have much more time to make their invitation lists.  When we used the accept/regret model, recruitment parties would end at noon, giving the chapters about 6 hours to review 1,100 potential members and decide which to invite back to the next round.  With this new method, chapters have a significantly greater amount of time, allowing them to more carefully consider each potential member and make sure that any invitation lists submitted are correct.  This added time for more attention to detail ultimately benefits the potential members as well.
  3. Overall, the recruitment process relies heavily on math and statistics.  Throughout the week, there are statistical processes at work geared toward making sure each sorority is able to pledge the maximum amount of women at the end of the week, which gives the highest number of potential members a chance to join.  Each round, every sorority is allowed to invite back a specific amount of potential members.  If, for some reason, a sorority has fewer acceptances than were anticipated, they still have room for potential members who would have liked an invitation, but did not receive one.  In the accept/regret model, there was no real recourse because we did not have this information until after acceptances were over.  Now, however, we are able to tell how many acceptances there are, and, should a sorority need to issue more invitations, they have the ability to issue more invitations, allowing more invitations to be issued overall.
  4. One thing to clarify here is that the sororities do not know where the potential members have ranked them.  For example, if someone ranks a sorority at the end of her list and ends up scheduled to visit them, she should not feel nervous about that, because the sorority only receives an alphabetical list of who is coming back, not where the potential members ranked them.

As communicated before, the worst thing a potential member can do is approach recruitment with the attitude that only one or two chapters is “good enough” for them.  Most often, this attitude is not learned during the recruitment week but rather has been ingrained by friends, family, and neighbors who have told potential members which sororities are “good,” “bad,” “acceptable,” and placed other labels on these large groups of women.  It also comes from acquaintances who do love her and have told her that she would be perfect for a particular group and will certainly receive a bid there.  When the rubber meets the road, a group can only take so many women and it’s up to the 200 collegiate members of each chapter to decide which 75 women to offer bids to. The truth is that each sorority has something unique and wonderful to offer and it’s up to the potential member to decide what she thinks is best with as little help from us as possible.  The advantage to such large groups is that anyone who will give a group a chance can make friends for a lifetime.

We are often questioned by students and parents from out of state wondering whether they will be considered for sorority membership, even if they aren’t from the area and don’t know anyone beforehand.  Each year, women from all over attend Auburn, have a wonderful time making friends in recruitment, and find their sorority home.  From 2017 to 2018, 49% of the students participating in recruitment finished high school in Alabama and the other 51% finished school elsewhere.  During that same time period, 48% of the bids went to students from Alabama and the other 52% went to students from elsewhere.  So, the pool of women receiving bids is reflective of the pool of women who participated in recruitment.

Please don’t assume that recruitment will be just like it was when you were in school, even if you went to Auburn.  During this time, many nervous parents turn to their own experiences as well as their friends for answers and advice.  Please know that The Office of Greek Life is the best place to get these things and that many well meaning friends have led potential members and their families astray.  The Panhellenic Council (especially through our website) is going to tell you everything you need to know. Panhellenic knows how nervous you and your daughter are and we want you both to be prepared for recruitment, so please look at our website first if you have any questions.  If a friend tells you or your daughter something that conflicts with the website, disregard it and go with the website.  Since we are the ones most closely linked to the process, we have the most accurate and up to date information on it.

It is equally important to educate you on the difference between “Rush” and “Recruitment.”  Across the nation, sororities have moved from a Rush model that requires potential members to jump through hoops and meet many requirements before being allowed to join.  We follow a Recruitment model that is more about the sororities showcasing what our sororities do and the value we can add to your daughter’s college experience.  Your daughter might be stressed about impressing the sorority members, but she should know that the sororities are also very concerned with impressing her and recruiting her into sorority membership.

Often, there are other opportunities for women to join sororities outside of formal recruitment. Some chapters have spots available and seek to fill those spots through continuous open bidding. The first two weeks of fall and the first two weeks of spring are the times that COB activities are mostly held.  If a woman is interested in COB, she can sign up on our online form.  Continuous open bidding is very informal and the sororities choose which events to have when and which potential members to invite.  Someone doesn’t to fill out the form to be invited. The chapters invite unaffiliated friends and will look through our spreadsheet of interested women we collect from the online form to get ideas of women to invite.  If someone fills out the form, she may or may not be called.  If she is called,  she doesn’t have to attend the event if she doesn’t want to.  She also doesn’t have to take a bid if she decides not to.  But, please remember that if someone receives a bid through formal recruitment and they decline it or later turn it in, they are ineligible for one year and can’t participate in continuous open bidding.

During recruitment, your daughter will already be in the place she will live for the remainder of the school year.  Even after recruitment is over, she will not be expected to move onto the sorority’s hall.  In some instances, a spot may open up on a sorority’s floor and new members are allowed to move there if they wish, but no one will be asked or forced to move during their first year.  However, women are expected to live on the sorority’s hall during their second year of membership.  So, if your daughter does join a sorority, do not sign a lease for the next year until you are certain that she will not have to live on the hall.  Sororities all have their own policies where housing is concerned, but there are generally very steep fines associated with not living on the hall at the required time.  The sorority halls are all located in The Village.  This housing, on the western end of campus, will be apartment style and allow each resident to have her own bedroom as well as a shared bathroom and living room area with other members of her sorority in suites of four.  Each sorority has about forty beds on a hallway protected by a locked door with card-swipe access. Living on the sorority hall is a lot of fun! Your daughter will have the opportunity to meet lots of new friends and make great memories.

Everyone knows that Auburn Panhellenic has rules for sorority recruitment,  but not everyone knows what they are.  The rules are in place to protect your daughter.  It is certainly OK for potential members to maintain friendships with people they already know, but it is important that they not let people overstep their boundaries where recruitment is concerned.  Often sorority members, their mothers, and alumnae from sororities overstep the boundaries of appropriate contact and place their chapters and potential members in precarious positions.  Often times, a woman knows a potential sorority member who is an outstanding woman.  She truly loves this potential member and she loves her sorority as well, so she begins to tell the potential member about how “wonderful” her sorority is and how a “great girl like her will certainly receive a bid there”.  Some times, the potential member will receive cards, letters, or gifts before or during recruitment to influence her decision.  Almost every time, she knows this is against policies, but she is flattered and she likes the organization, so she does not report it.  The chapters are very large and it is the undergraduate collegians who decide which (approximately) 75 potential members to give bids to.  So, if each member only has one potential member she loves and tries to attract, there will be many of them who it is impossible to offer bids to. This can devastate potential members who are then usually too embarrassed to say anything or they approach the Panhellenic Council wanting to take action against the sorority, but it is too late.  This is also the point where we remind the potential member that she knowingly participated in behaviors that are in violation of Panhellenic Recruitment policies and that potential members who do this can be removed from recruitment by Auburn Panhellenic.   Here are some things to protect yourself against.  Should any of these occur, please report them to our office:

  • Only organized Panhellenic groups should be holding meetings regarding recruitment.  No particular sorority should be doing this- even in the name of Panhellenic.  No group (moms and alumnae included) should be having parties intended to recruit potential members.  Even if someone holds a party that is supposedly not about recruitment but is a group of sorority members inviting a group of potential members, this is a violation.
  • No one should be sending your daughter cards, letters, or gifts, unless it is a gift giving occasion and the person is someone who would be giving her a gift even if she weren’t participating in recruitment.
  • No one should be discussing your daughter’s status or supposed status within a sorority with anyone, even you.  Only a very small group of women actually see the official information submitted by the sororities and it is confidential, so anything you hear is going to be hearsay and mostly the opinion of people who don’t know the whole story.
  • During recruitment, your daughter should not receive any cards, letters, gifts, or communication from sorority members, alums, or members mothers.  She also should not try to contact them from the beginning of parties until parties are over.  Contact includes, but is not limited to visits, phone calls, emails, text messages, Facebook messages, instagram direct messages, cards, and letters.

Everything is different.  Many of our sororities are OVERWHELMED with legacies.  So, just because you are a member of a sorority (from Auburn or from a different campus), your daughter is not guaranteed an invitation or a bid.  The truth is, some sororities will have well over 100 legacies. Historically, about 60% of our potential members report at least one relative in a sorority.  The average sorority has 101 women in recruitment reporting family connections.  If they can have 75 new members, it’s clear that they don’t even have room for all of their legacies.  In addition, each sorority meets many great women during recruitment who are a better fit for their chapter than some of their legacies, which means that no pledge class is only legacies.  In fact, no pledge class is even mostly legacies.  Usually, less than one in five of the women in our recruitment joined a sorority they have a relative in.  Even if you were the president of the chapter at Auburn twenty years ago and you are a big contributor to the chapter today, it is still possible that your daughter might not be invited back to that chapter.

It is a misconception that if a legacy is invited back for preference round that she is guaranteed a bid.  There are two explanations for that.  One is that some sororities do not guarantee bids to their legacies who attend preference parties.  Their legacies are given the same amount of consideration as non-legacies.  Also, sororities differ in what they call a legacy.  While every sorority wants to know if a potential member is related to one of their members in any way, legacy doesn’t mean the same thing to every sorority.  For one sorority, a legacy is for someone whose mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, or cousin is a member.  For another, it might be mother and sister only.  Every sorority has a national policy regarding legacies and the chapters at Auburn consult with their headquarters offices to ensure that they treat their legacies fairly and appropriately.  If you want to know what your sorority’s policy is, contact them. Click here to fined out how each sorority defines legacy.

It is also a misconception that, when a sorority releases a legacy, the relative will get a notification phone call.  Very often, we receive phone calls from confused relatives who are surprised to learn that  most of the chapters at Auburn no longer do that.  There are many reasons for this. The first has to do with the sheer volume of potential members and legacies.  There is simply not enough time to call and discuss each situation with each relative.  Another reason goes back to the way that each sorority defines legacy.  If a sorority does not consider a niece to be a legacy, they do not need to call the potential member’s aunt.  The most important reason is that this recruitment experience belongs to the potential member.  She should be the first one to know what her invitations are and we want to respect her privacy and her ability to disclose that information to her family and friends.  If a potential member decides not to return to her mother’s sorority, we don’t ask her mother to deliver that message.  We also do not expect the sororities to share information with the potential members’ families before that information becomes available to the potential members themselves.

SHOULD YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS OR CONCERNS REGARDING THE ABOVE INFORMATION,

PLEASE CALL OUR OFFICE AT 334-844-4600 OR EMAIL US AT

AUPANHELLENIC @ AUBURN.EDU

Last modified: June 17, 2020