Adjusting to new recruiting methods

By Frankie Marzano, Onward State (Penn State University); photo via Sigma Alpha Epsilon Instagram @sae_at_psu

While classes are mostly online and in-person events are at a minimum, student organization leaders at Penn State have scoured to find creative ways to keep members engaged and interested.

Unsurprisingly, Penn State’s Interfraternity and Panhellenic Councils are no exception. This fall, they’ve taken an all-virtual approach to recruiting and membership events.

“I think the biggest difference is getting to know somebody face-to-face versus getting in or somebody online,” Interfraternity Council President Nate Brodsky said. “It does play a big difference, especially extending a bid to join your brotherhood chapter. It’s a pretty big decision.”

Under normal circumstances, the IFC would host a full zone day week where each chapter would host tours of their houses. Potential members would later be invited to in-person events such as a poker night or basketball game. Finally, members usually receive bids from their respective fraternities and move on to the pledge process.

However, that’s all changed this semester.

Every chapter had already hosted a zone day over Zoom to kick off fall 2020 rush. Potential members were given the opportunity to talk to brothers and get a feel for what they like. Instead of going to in-person house tours, every chapter has recorded a video tour of their house and posted it to the IFC website.

The Panhellenic Council is facing a similar situation, too.

Different chapters have held socials via Zoom or even Netflix watch parties as a part of the fall recruitment process.

Evidently, it’s not the same as meeting people in-person. While planning for recruitment in the spring has already begun, there is optimism that spring recruitment can still be a big success despite the uncertainty that comes from a global pandemic.

“We’re already planning to be virtual, which I think is going to be different,” Panhellenic Council Vice President for Recruitment Gia Manno said. “People from other schools have already said that it seems to be working relatively the same. Even some aspects that we are changing to virtual might even stay virtual in the future.”

The IFC has already experienced some of this success from the virtual recruitment process.

“We saw that it actually was very successful, and we got a lot of great reviews and feedback from both the potential new members and the recruitment chairs,” Brodsky said. “I want to give a big shout out to our IOC, Vice President of Communications Leonard Fontes. He did a very good job of assisting chapters, filming, and advertising. I think that definitely had a great impact, and turned that obstacle into a big opportunity instead.”

Brodksy added there are now two recruitment cycles for fraternities: formal recruitment and open recruitment. Formal recruitment has already ended, while open recruitment, formerly known as “rolling recruitment,” started September 30 and ends October 31.

Open recruitment allows potential members who aren’t satisfied with their bids to be recruited by other fraternities. Registration for open recruitment will be open to all students who missed the deadline for formal recruitment, which is new for this year.