Fall sorority enrollment drops with fewer students on campus

 With enrollment down at Truman State University for the third year in a row, a decrease in Greek Life’s women’s formal recruitment has followed. 

Tyana Lange, vice president for enrollment management and marketing, said the official headcount is 5,231 students, which is down 10% overall from last year. In 2018, there were 1,100 freshmen, and there are now 202 fewer freshmen for fall 2019, Lange said.

The fall 2019 Panhellenic recruitment team expected a smaller turnout for women’s rush. The six sororities that participated in formal recruitment were Alpha Gamma Delta, Alpha Sigma Alpha, Delta Phi Epsilon, Delta Zeta, Sigma Kappa and Sigma Sigma Sigma.  

In 2016, 194 Potential New Members were matched with one of the six Panhellenic sororities on campus and were proposed a bid. The following year, recruitment increased by three girls, but then started to decline in 2018 when 164 girls received bids. 

Mary-Kate Patton, vice president of recruitment, said 123 girls matched with a sorority this year. Compared to 2016, that’s a decrease of 71 girls. 

In anticipation of the drop in recruitment numbers, the recruitment team implemented new ideas and changes to better accommodate the number of girls getting involved. 

The 2019 Panhellenic recruitment team consisted of six disaffiliated women who each represented their respective Panhellenic sororities to make sure the process was fair. The team ensures the rush process runs smoothly, while trying to focus on the values each sorority embodies, Patton said. Gamma Chis are also recruitment leaders, but they disaffiliate from their sorority during recruitment to act as Greek counselors for PNMs. Last spring, Mollie Dougherty, Gamma Chi coordinator, hired fewer Gamma Chis for this year’s fall recruitment in anticipation of lower attendance.

“PNMs, I think, were closer and more comfortable sharing things with recruitment counselors because we decided not to have as many counselors as years past anticipating lower turnout,” Dougherty said. 

Patton said she thinks the Gamma Chi position will change over the next few years because they’re the ones in charge of marketing Greek Life to PNMs. Some adjustments were already made to marketing techniques this year, including allowing PNMs to sign up for rush and pay formal recruitment fees at the Greek Interest Barbeque. There were also performances to try to make the barbeque more attractive to PNMs. 

 “I think it gave recruitment team a chance to be creative in finding new ways to publicize Greek Life and all it has to offer and to connect with those wanting to get involved on campus,” Dougherty said. “Ultimately, the turnout was low, but I think everything worked out great in the end.”

Patton said another factor that influences the turnout of women’s sorority recruitment is that a lot of incoming freshmen aren’t interested in going Greek immediately when they arrive at Truman. To combat this issue, the Gamma Chis took a more personal approach to reaching out to the PNMs who didn’t finish the second part of the recruitment registration deadline by contacting them directly, instead of via mass email. This individualized approach resulted in more girls signing up.

“I think it helped boost our numbers on recruitment and it helped make them feel wanted by the Panhellenic community,” Gamma Chi Taylor Kreutz said. 

Patton said she thinks lower turnout for rush resulted in a more personal approach, especially because there were fewer Invite Parties, and the events themselves were more intimate. 

“It kind of does stink for the community that enrollments down, but it’s also kind of good in a sense because you’re getting the girls that really want to do it,” Patton said. “You’re getting to more personalize and tailor the experience towards them since there’s fewer to accommodate for.”

Next year, the fall 2020 recruitment team will consist of the girls who were Gamma Chis at this year’s recruitment, meaning more changes will likely ensue. Some adjustments could be based on things the Gamma Chis didn’t like during recruitment this year, Patton said. She thinks there will be a lot more marketing events and revision on how tabling is done with Go Greek booklets for PNMs.