by Haley Geiger
In the first two weeks of my Spring semester, I went through the one thing a vast majority of freshman girls have been anticipating: Formal Sorority Recruitment. Though not as large of a process as it is in the Deep South, the Formal Recruitment process at WVU drew girls from all different majors and campuses, putting hundreds of girls from different walks of life in the same boat. The process was hectic, exciting, and cold (we were blessed with temperatures in the teens for most of our rounds) but most of all, it was entirely reminiscent of my days touring Mobile and competing at the 60th National Competition last summer. The busy days spent running all over kingdom come making first impressions left and right was akin to déjà vu, a sensation I honestly couldn’t get over!
At first, I was shocked to see how similar Formal Recruitment was to Distinguished Young Women. Sure, we weren’t all wearing medallions and we didn’t sing a “Thank You” song every time we left a house, but in the long run the two share more qualities than they appear to. When you enter a house, you have one main goal: make them love you. In a similar facet to trying to woo the judges, you want to leave the houses and make those girls remember and want you for their organization. Our recruitment process hosted upwards of 600 girls, and similarly to Distinguished Young Women, the constant goal is to make yourself stand out in the sea of potential new members (PNMs, as they’re called) and hope that each sorority wants to see more of you. Receiving a bid, typically likened to “a Sorority Girl’s Christmas”, was as happy a moment as receiving my medallion for the first time. You can’t stop thinking of the girls you’ll meet and the memories you’ll make and looking such a simple object, be it your name written out beneath the crest of your new home or the words etched into the silver of your State medallion, so just taking the leap of going through recruitment or competing in a local or state competition is the start of something that will have a massive impact on the rest of your life
The various rounds of recruitment each reminded me of different points of my weeks down in Mobile. In our recruitment process we had four rounds; Sisterhood, House Tours, Philanthropy, and Preference. Sisterhood is where we would enter a room and speak to a sister from each sorority to learn more about themselves and their affiliated sorority, oftentimes likened to Speed Dating and being vaguely reminiscent to our Meet the Judges panel the day we began private interviews. The next round, House Tours, was just that. We would enter six houses that decided to keep us for another round, tour their houses, and sit down to learn more about the sorority itself and the financial obligations we would be. When it came to Philanthropy, when each sorority told us about their organization’s mission, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the Be Your Best Self message. The different chapters were all devoted to making a difference in their community, be it through Autism Speaks, Reading is Fundamental, or Women’s Heart Health, and were physically and emotionally invested in changing both themselves and the lives of others through their charity work. In a way, every sorority is also upholding the Be Your Best Self message by being involved and working to make a difference in their communities! Finally, Preference round reminded me of a slightly more unorthodox part of competition: the final night number. That night, when the girls really try to sell us on their sorority, is when I really began to feel like a sister. Similarly, when I held hands with my fellow state representatives on the Final Night of Nationals, I felt at peace. I felt like I belonged with these girls and they were a part of my family, and I felt that exact same feeling through the ceremonies on Preference night. In those moments, Sororities changed from a fun social organization to a true sisterhood containing some of the best friends I will ever come to know. All in all, each round reminded me of a mixture of Sponsorship Parties and Private Interview, as you’re constantly making conversation yet being drilled with questions about yourself, your life, and your preferences. Luckily, there were no questions along the lines of “What does justice mean to you?” or “Can you tell me about the French Election?”, but that didn’t make the questioning any less grueling. Imagine if your interview lasted half an hour and you had to do anywhere from two to eight rounds, and that was recruitment in a nutshell!
However, the most distinct similarity I’ve found between the two thus far is the relationships that have come out of it. Entering a competition at such a high-stakes level as Distinguished Young Women Nationals, the last thing you think you expect to walk away with is friendships so strong they can be likened to sisterhood. However, that’s exactly what happened. Leaving Mobile after two weeks is among one of the hardest things I had to do, since I had formed such a strong bond with my fellow competitors, I was never sure when I would see them again. These girls weren’t just my competition, nor just my friends, but my sisters. And though distance may separate us, perhaps permanently, I know that the bonds of sisterhood I have with them will never die. When you receive your bid for a sorority, however, that’s exactly what you expect to happen. To spend your days on campus with your fellow sorority sisters at your back, and to leave campus with stronger bonds of friendship than you thought possible. And though distance will one day separate me from my sisters as it has with my DYW girls, I know that those bonds of sisterhood will also never die. I love my Alpha Xi Delta girls just as I do my Distinguished Young Women girls, and whether I expected to form these relationships or not, I will never forget the bonds of sisterhood I share with them.