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Students celebrated by Penn Commons after receiving sorority bids during 2019 spring recruitment.

Credit: Luke Yeagley

While some freshmen may be eager to join Greek life, the formal recruitment process for most sororities and fraternities doesn't start until after winter break. But incoming Penn students can prepare for recruitment season by brushing up on these facts. 

Penn has 48 fraternities and sororities, which are part of three larger groups — the Panhellenic Council, Interfraternity Council, and Intercultural Greek Council. About 25% of Penn students are involved in Greek life, Penn Today reported.  

To be eligible for rush, students must be full-time undergraduates with a minimum 2.5 GPA and four completed course units.

The Panhellenic Council

Panhel is made up of eight women's sororities and fraternities. Each chapter has about 175 members, according to Penn's Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. Freshmen and upperclassmen can participate in spring rush, and upperclassmen can also join sororities in the fall semester through a continuous bidding process. Penn Panhel President and Wharton senior Claire Canestrino said spring recruitment will take place next year on January 13-19, 2020. 

Interested students must register for spring recruitment in advance through Campus Director, an online system that allows the University to determine eligibility. Those who register earlier pay lower recruitment fees: last year, prospective members paid $25 to sign up for rush before November 30, $35 to register before December 20, and $45 for registration by the final deadline on January 1. 

Spring recruitment — the most popular option — consists of several rounds where prospective members visit each of the chapter houses and are matched with specific chapters through a mutual selection process. Each interested student initially visits all eight chapter houses and submits a list of preferences. Prospective members are then matched to a smaller set of organizations for the next round of recruitment, and this process continues for several rounds as students and chapters narrow down their choices. The week ends with a final Bid Day, where new members receive a bid from one of the chapters. 

The Interfraternity Council

The IFC is made up of 27 chapters, including 25 men's fraternities and two co-ed fraternities. Each fraternity has about 51 members, according to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. While upperclassmen can join IFC fraternities through an informal process in the fall, freshmen are only eligible to participate in formal recruitment in the spring. Prospective members must also sign up for recruitment on Campus Director, but they do not need to pay a registration fee. Last year, interested students had to register for recruitment by January 23, according to the OFSL website. 

Credit: Mona Lee

Several sororities and fraternities are located on Spruce Street.

At the beginning of the spring semester, open recruitment events are held at various IFC chapter houses, where interested students can visit and learn about the organizations. Students leave their contact information and are later contacted by individual chapters with invitations for closed recruitment. During closed recruitment, potential members participate in events such as restaurant visits, ice skating, or game nights. Closed recruitment ends with Bid Night, when students learn which fraternities have given them an invitation to join. Unlike Panhel, students can get multiple offers from fraternities, but they must choose only one to join. 

The Intercultural Greek Council

The IGC is made up of 13 cultural sororities and fraternities. With about 175 members across all 13 chapters, it is smaller than IFC and Panhel — both have more chapters and about 1,400 total members. Many IGC members say they appreciate the intimate atmosphere. 

“It’s smaller, and you know the people you’re involved with,” 2017 College graduate Carol Quezada Olivo said of multicultural Greek life. While at Penn, Olivo was a member of Sigma Lambda Upsilon / Señoritas Latinas Unidas Sorority, Inc. 

Each IGC chapter has its own recruitment process. In January, the council holds its annual Meet the Greeks event to help interested students meet the various chapters and learn about how to apply. While chapters conduct recruitment throughout the academic year, freshmen are only eligible to apply beginning in their second semester, according to the OFSL website. 

Greek Life Facts

There are 32 official chapter houses on Penn's campus, which are largely occupied by sophomores. In September 2018, Penn announced a new policy that will require all sophomores to live in college houses starting in 2021, prompting concerns about the future of Greek housing. 

Fraternities and sororities also come at a cost. For new IFC members, chapter dues range from $325 to $1,200 each semester. For new Panhel members, dues range from $575 to $931 each semester. Dues are lowered for returning members, ranging from $200-1000 each semester for IFC members and $250-$709 each semester for Panhel members. 

Penn also charges a $45.50 semesterly fee for members of Greek organizations in all three councils. According to the OFSL website, the fee is used to provide resources, leadership opportunities, and programs for members of all Greek organizations at Penn. IFC and Panhel members are required to pay chapter housing costs, or an out-of-house member fee if they choose not to live in the chapter house. IGC and IFC members must also pay $5 a semester to support council-sponsored activities. 

To cover these costs, Penn Panhel runs a scholarship program that offers $200-400 scholarships to students in all eight member organizations. While IFC and IGC do not have centralized scholarship programs, members of Greek organizations in all three councils can apply for scholarships offered by the national organizations their chapters are affiliated with.