Preference parties are meant to tug on your emotional heart strings.  The houses that invite you back to this last day of parties are telling you that they can “see” you as a sister.  For the purpose of example I refer to this as a “three” party day…meaning the maximum amount of parties that you can be invited back to is 3. It is also called “Serious Day” on many campuses.

Preference parties are the most formal of all the parties.  A “ritual” of sorts might occur. Don’t be confused with rituals that have to do with membership…this ritual will serve the purpose of allowing you to get a glimpse of what it would be like to be part of a particular sorority’s sisterhood.

So lets say our hypothetical PNM receives an invitation to 3 Preference parties which is the maximum amount for Preference.  She will attend all three and then go and “vote” or “rank” those three houses in order…1 being the house she likes the most and her first choice for membership while 3 would be her last choice house. There is no “alternate” house listed.

On Preference Day, walking to and from voting is done in silence.  On some campuses the Rho Chi’s will take PNM’s cell phones until the day is over and the PNM has finished listing her houses.  this is to ensure that it is her decision, one made without any outside influences.

Of course all PNM’s want their first choice house.  Most campuses try very hard to match all PNM’s with their first choice house but of course that isn’t always possible.  So..generally here’s how it works.  While the PNM’s are listing their three houses the sororities are also making lists of their own.  If a sorority invites a girl to Preference it is assumed that they can see her as a potential sister.  They take the PNM’s who have attended Pref and place them on either list 1, 2, or 3.

Let’s say Panhellenic says that quota (the amount of girls a sorority can offer Bids to) is 75, then list 1 will have 75 spots.  The sorority will take and list their top 75 girls on list one, their next 75 girls on list 2 and then the rest on list 3.  Panhellenic then matches the girls to the chapters.  Now days on most campuses this is done by computer but there are still some small campuses that do this by hand.

Lets go through some scenarios of what can happen when matching bids.  So lets say our PNM lists APhi in the 1 spot on her Pref card and Aphi has her on their 1 list..then it’s a perfect match and she is offered a bid to Aphi.   I wish it were this easy :).

Let’s say Patty PNM is on Aphi’s 1 list but matches with another house (ie: she put Aphi in the 2 slot..had KD in the one spot…KD had her on their 1 list so it’s a match!)….she comes off the list (she’s matched) and now there is an empty spot on the APhi 1 list so the first girl from the 2 list now moves up onto the 1 list.  Makes sense??’s confusing….I know.

So just to confuse you more let’s talk about cross cutting.  Even though Panhellenic will tell you that if you attend the maximum amount of Preference parties (in our hypothetical situation it’s 3) you are guaranteed a bid a situation can occur, called cross cutting where at the end of bid matching a PNM can be bidless at the end of the bid matching process.  How?  Let me explain.

Let’s say Patty PNM puts KD 1, Aphi 2 and AChiO 3.  KD has our PNM on their 2 list, Aphi has her on their 1 list and AChiO has her on their 3 list.   SO….Aphi gets to our PNM’s name and sees that she did not rank them in the 1 spot so they put her name aside to come back to later if she doesn’t match with KD.  KD doesn’t have her on their 1 list and they fill their quota before they get to her name on the 2 list so she doesn’t match with them.  AChiO has filled their quota before they have gotten to her name on their 3 list and by the time APhi gets back to her name they also have filled their quota leaving Patty PNM without a bid! It’s a horrible situation….doesn’t happen often but it can happen!

There are ways to remedy this situation. On some campuses after a sorority makes quota Panhellenic allows them to take a few extra girls (we call it “quota plus”). Girls who attended the maximum number of Preference parties (in this case 3) and ranked the maximum amount of sororities (again 3) are eligible. These are girls who are on one of the sororities three lists and did not match for a bid.  The sorority can then offer these girls a bid as their “plus” girls.  Sororities don’t have to do this but many do.  A word of warning….if a sorority is at full house capacity (the maximum number of members as set by Panhellenic…also called “house total”) then they are not able to participate in this process.  This generally refers to the “popular” houses on campus…you know the ones that everyone wants and often make those big cuts at the beginning of recruitment.

A second remedy is called “Snap Bidding”.  If at the end of the bid matching process there are still girls who do not have a bid, a sorority that is below “house total” and that has not made quota can “snap bid”.  Generally sororities do not snap bid a girl they have previously not invited back although they may snap bid a girl who ranked them low (on her alternate list) and did not return to their parties.  This is done at the same time as bid matching and only occurs on Bid Day.  Most girls won’t know if they were a snap bid since it is done in conjunction with the bid matching process.  Girls who are “snap bids” receive their bids along with all of the other PNM’s and participate in all of the Bid Day activities.  A “snap bid” is not and cannot be used as a “quota addition”.

Just a note about “snap bids”.  Just as recruitment varies from campus to campus, so does the bid matching practices mentioned above.  What I have given examples of is a “GENERAL” practices.

Once Bid Day is over girls can continue to be added by houses that are below house total  by COB/COR (continuous open bidding/continuous open recruitment).  How this is handled is up to the individual Panhellenics.

Finally lets just touch on what is called “suiciding”.  Suiciding occurs when a PNM lists only 1 house on her voting/ranking card.  She is indicating by doing this that she will only accept a bid from this one house.  LADIES……no matter how much you LOVE a sorority and DO NOT want to be in any other sorority DO NOT DO THIS!!!!  They call is “suicide” for a reason…your chances of getting a bid to this particular house are slim.  It as happened that a PNM has gotten a bid to a house she has suicided but this practice is not advised.  In addition if you do this you are then not eligible for snap bids and may jeopardize COB/COR.

Well there it all is….a general overview of how the invite/bid process works.  It’s confusing at times but for the most part it all works out in the end :).

After an emotional week of Recruitment Parties it is now officially “BID DAY”….Yay!!!!! You made it!!  And with most of your brain cells in tack!