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It’s that time of year again….pre-sorority recruitment mayhem.  Across the US girls and their mommas are scrambling to find alums to write their recruitment recs so that those precious packets can go wining their way to various and assorted sororities on various and assorted campuses across the US (and Canada!!).  For many of you who are going through recruitment at competitive campuses this process may have started in the Fall.  However for others you may have just jumped into the game a little late.  Two things are true:

1.  This process can be crazy, stressful and mind boggling at times.

2.  Time will fly by…at times..and creep along at others


Before you know it that magical time called recruitment will arrive :).  Here’s a little intel that I hope will help :).

Back in the day, when movies first started showing on the silver screen, they were in black and white.  On top of that they had no sound….the audience relied upon a pianist who accompanied the film with music that was chosen to be “appropriate” for the various scenes.  In addition the actors and actresses used exaggerated facial expressions to get their “message” across.   If you can’t picture this then go to Youtube and type in “black and white silent films”.  A host of choices will pop up.  

So I bet you are wondering where I am going with this?  Nope..I haven’t gone off the deep end..my point is this…”what would recruitment look like if we watched it in black and white..no sound?  We actually did this with a chapter that I worked with.  We videoed them during first round parties, taking out all the sound, just focusing on facial expressions and body language.  Here’s what we learned.

Body language tells a great story about how both the pnm and the member are feeling. It’s easy to plaster on that smile as you walk through the door for the first time that day…no matter how nervous you are than to keep for extended periods of time.  Pnms need to remember that in many cases members are just as nervous and maybe even more nervous than the pnm.  For many members this might be their first recruitment on the other side.  We focus a lot on pnms but the truth is that by the time the members get to recruitment they have spent a week (or more) of long nights and even longer days preparing for recruitment so….as a pnm remember that putting on your smile applies to members as well.  

Speaking of body language….as you walk through that doorway as a pnm I can tell you from experience that the member has to suppress the feeling to reach out and touch you.  Truth is they are not supposed to. They are told that they can’t reach out to grab your or arm.  So what happens is that awkward hand that is placed right behind the small of your back ..guiding you but not touching you.  For some members this will be easily attained and for others they find this awkward and uncomfortable.  This may convey to the pnm that the member isn’t interested…not true…they may be struggling with just getting you in the door.  In addition, the member has to focus on the order in which they are expected to pick up pnms, one slip or mistake and the whole system of bumping can be thrown off for an entire party!   As you walk through that doorway keep in mind that even though your heart is racing and your palms feel sweaty (hmm aren’t you glad you don’t have to shake hands) the member who is picking you up may be having the same reactions.  If for some reason you don’t get that award winning smile from a member chances are they are concentrating just getting you in the door. 

So once in the door…what does out silent movie show next.  As we watched we saw girls actively engaged in conversations.  That looked like smiles, head movement that indicated that the pnm and member were agreeing and girls that looked relaxed…shoulders back…hands at their sides…if sitting then leaning in to listen attentively…if standing then the pnm and member were face to face, making eye contact.. However as we looked closer we noticed girls who were looking at their feet, kind of hopping from foot to foot.  There was the rainbow gaze…kind of scouring the ceiling for dust??  Some girls who wore watches or bracelets were looking at them…spinning them or fidgeting with them.  Note to self…if you are pnm who tends to play with your jewelry…don’t wear it.  Even though we lecture members about pnm body language, playing with your jewelry can be misinterpreted for disinterest or boredom. Did you know that sororities tell their members what specific jewelry to wear to specifically address this issue?

I wish I had a dollar for every comment I get from pnms that says…”the member and I just didn’t make a connection.”  Tru..this will happen but you have no idea what has gone with that particular member before she picked you  up a the door or bumped to you next.  Same goes for pnms.  Lets talk about members first. Remember first of all that the members have been preparing for recruitment for days and nights.  They are tired!  Period.  They are stressed.  They’ve been told over and over again that they NEED the most amazing pledge class ever.  On top of the above there are a host of reasons that your member might not be the most engaging person.  Reason include….a fight with a boyfriend (members have restricted hours that they can leave the house), she has her period, she’s worried about classes, she’s hungry, she’s had a disagreement with a friend, late night eating has made her clothes too tight, she’s shy, somethings going on at home that has her stressed….get the idea.

Ok pnms your turn….the truth is that you could have the same set of concerns.  Last year I had the sweetest pnm text me panicking because as she was getting ready to go to round three parties…she broke 3 zippers on three different dresses!!  I had another call hysterical because while sitting in white jeans at a party she got her period.  Things happen..hey..life happens. I know that it may seem easy for me to say..I’m not sitting across form a girl who is doing the rainbow roll with her eyes and the silence is deafening.  I went through this as a member but I also went through it with my own daughter.  So my saged words of advice are these…..take a deep breath and IF you go back to this house the next round give these girls another chance.  Give them the benefit of the doubt.  while I don’t have exact statistics I am sure that the majority of girls that return find a better connection.  

The truth is that while as pnms worry about what they are going to wear, how they are going to wear their hair, what jewelry they are wearing…having the correct “look” the TRUTH IS: that it’s really all about the connections.  Strip out all the color, the sound and take a look at you and the connection you can make in black in white.  That’s going to be the one that’s the lasting impression…the one that will tell sisters whether you will be a good fit as a member. 

One last thing…so I was picturing recruitment in black and white in my head.  I was thinking of the pianist who would accompany our film and running in my head the crazy music she/he would have to play.  The fast and furious fingers on the piano keys as the pnms are picked up at the door.  The ebb and flow between fast and slow as members and pnms chat up a storm…the almost march like music as pnms are led towards the door…segueing to sentimental tune as members wave good bye and finishing with the rat race music as the Rho chis rush their pnms to the next house.

Oh my..how I love recruitment!!!!!!