Southeast chapters recruit to grow and extend the Greek experience to new members
Nothing stopped the ancient Greeks from invading Troy, and tornado sirens didn't stop the Southeast Missouri State University Greeks from running to their new brothers on Bid Day.
In the midst of red, blue, green, maroon and gray shirts, one thing stood out: adrenaline.
"I am on an adrenaline high," said Weston Blankenship, a sophomore rushing Sigma Nu.
Blankenship and the other recruits found out what fraternity they had received a bid to on Aug. 31.
The tornado sirens went off just before the event began. After the sirens stopped, university officials allowed them to continue to run as long as they sped the process up and cleared off the fields as soon as possible since there was still a severe thunderstorm warning.
Blankenship and the other new members, all wearing color-coordinated shirts to represent the eight fraternities, hurried past the power plant and around the corner to Parker Field.
The recruits hesitated on the edge of the parking lot and looked down at the field, where the established members gathered in bunches jumping, hollering, whooping and waving their fraternity flag in unison. The members and the new recruits rushed toward each other. Halfway across the field, they leaped into each other's arms and began hugging, jumping and roaring.
"I'm really excited to get to know all my new brothers, to go to all the Greek events, help raise money for our philanthropy and get to experience the brotherhood that Sigma Nu is and help mold myself into a better person," Blankenship said. "I wanted to join Sigma Nu because they seem like the type of guys that I would aspire to be. They're founded on love, truth and honor, and that's what I want to work toward. All the guys are really cool and nice. I think I'm going to do well, and I think it is the best fraternity on campus."
New recruits learn about fraternities and sororities at the Welcome Back Picnic, freshman move-in day or the ice cream social during the first week of classes. The members then give those interested more specific information about events.
For instance, if a student meets people from two fraternities, he can decide to go to the events held by those groups. Later he can narrow down his choice and go to all that fraternity's events, which can be things like pizza parties, sporting events or barbeques. He puts in a bid with the fraternity he chooses, such as Delta Chi.
"And then Delta Chi could or could not accept the bid," said Ryan Manning, a member of Sigma Nu.
The fraternity decides whether or not to accept him, and if they accept him, they extend him a bid.
"That's where mutual selection comes in," Manning said. "Not only do the fraternities seek out members, but the new members seek out fraternities as well."
Students who want join a fraternity or sorority must register online with the university. They can attend an optional informational meeting to determine whether or not they want to join. People who decide to continue then go through a week-long recruitment process.
The Interfraternity Council is the governing body for social fraternities, while the Panhellenic Council is the governing body for social sororities.
Manning, the president of the Interfraternity Council, said that members separate from their fraternities and recruit for all the social fraternities. They become recruiters for Greek life and not their own chapter. They discuss the events and the chapters and the benefits to being a part of a Greek organization.
"We look for girls who are excited about Greek life and are wanting to get involved in Greek life," said Ashley Harris, the vice president of recruitment for Alpha Chi Omega. "We love girls who are enthusiastic about it and are wanting to make a difference. Our philanthropy is domestic violence, and so we look for girls who are passionate about that. We absolutely love seeing that passion."
Thirty girls are chosen by the Panhellenic Council to become Pi Chis. A Pi Chi separates from her sorority in order to help new recruits find the sorority that best fits them. The Pi Chis make a new Facebook account in order to help stay connected to new girls and to give them more information, while all other sorority members deactivate their Facebook accounts.
Sororities have a more formal recruitment process that includes six days of specific events. Potential new members go on tours through the sorority houses on the first day. The second night is Go Greek Night. Potential new members visit all the sororities in the University Center to learn more about each chapter.
The third night is philanthropy night. Students learn about each chapter's philanthropy and its method of raising money.
After philanthropy night, potential new members select their four favorite sororities. The fourth night is Sisterhood Night.
"The chapters really focus on why their sisterhood means so much to them," Plumlee said.
Each potential new member formally visits up to two sororities at their houses off campus during Preference Night. At the end of the week, the sororities have Bid Day and officially become Greek.
"She will come to the UC to open up her envelope to find out what bid she got," Plumlee said.
Plumlee said that bids are ran through a computer system.
"The selection is a mutual process between sororities and members," Plumlee said. "If two sororities want the same girl, she [the recruit] will get her first choice. If a girl does not get her first choice, she may get her second choice sorority."
After receiving a bid, members go through an education period and have initiation before becoming active members of their chapter.
Members of sororities have a six to eight week class to learn more about their chapters and the values on which they were founded.
"I can tell you that had I not gone Greek, I would not have stayed at SEMO," Plumlee said. "It's what gives me purpose here. Yes, we are all here to get an education, but I could've done that at a community college back home. Going Greek provides experience. Being in a sorority has given me life skills that cannot be acquired through a classroom. Not only do I have these life skills to take with me for the rest of my life, but I have my best friends -- not only in Alpha Xi Delta but that I've met from other chapters as well. Would I do it again? One hundred times over."
Fraternities can continue to recruit until the last day of the semester. Plumlee said that sororities can continue to recruit, but often fill up their house numbers during the fall.
Manning said there were 185 recruits for the fraternities this year, which was 50 more than last year. Plumlee said 360 recruits registered for sororities.
"People should go Greek so they could have these lifelong connections with people," Manning said.
Manning said being in a Greek organization teaches students how to work in a large organization as well.
"It's one of the best thing that ever happened to me," Manning said. "It helped me grow. It helped me mature. It helped me find what I want to do when I grow up and who I wanted to be and what type of a person I wanted to be."