Approximately 50 fewer people registered for recruitment to Penn’s eight Panhellenic sororities this semester, the first significant drop in registrants since 2017.
For the last three years, Panhellenic recruitment has recorded approximately 600 registrants for rush. This year, sororities saw an approximately 8.3% decrease in registered students, with only approximately 550 registered for rush, according to the Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life. This drop follows a nationwide trend in Greek life recruitment, according to Panhellenic Council President and Wharton junior Sahitya Mandalapu.
Mandalapu said factors specific to Penn, such as class size and the number of female students, may have impacted the numbers.
The Class of 2023 consists of 2,400 students, a 4.8% decrease in size from the Class of 2022's 2,552 students. Fifty-five percent and 53% of the Class of 2022 and 2023 are women, respectively.
Delta Delta Delta Vice President of Membership and Engineering senior Natalie Munson said, however, trying to pinpoint a specific reason for the decline in registrants would be speculation and hoped the drop was just a "blip."
Greek life organizations have faced bad publicity nationwide, potentially leading to the decrease in sorority recruitment numbers at Penn this year, Mandalapu said.
“Penn is not immune to that national trend,” she added.
There have been multiple highly publicized deaths tied to Greek life recently. On Jan. 17, a sophomore was found dead in a fraternity house at Stanford University. Additionally, the parents of a first-year student at Cornell University who died last year have filed a lawsuit against Cornell University and Phi Kappa Psi fraternity. The Ithaca Voice reported that the Cornell student was last seen alive at an unsanctioned rush event on Cornell’s campus.
Mandalapu outlined Panhellenic Council's ideas to boost recruitment registration. She said she hopes to improve the matching process of coffee chats, which are held to give prospective members an opportunity to speak with current sorority members about their experience in Greek life. She added that the Council hopes to host an event for sophomores and upperclassmen to explain what opportunities are still available if they want to participate in Greek life.
The smaller number of registrants did have a silver lining for some chapter leaders in making the process more personal.
Chi Omega president and Nursing junior Sophie Henderson said that smaller number of registrants may have allowed OFSL and sorority chapters to better accommodate students registered for rush. According to OFSL, 180 students withdrew from recruitment compared to approximately 200 in past years, indicating a greater rush retention rate.
“As much as we want more people to rush, I think smaller numbers were nice too because the groups that rushed were smaller and there was a more intimate environment when the girls came through the houses,” Munson said.
Spring Panhellenic recruitment consists of several rounds where interested students initially visit all eight chapter houses and submit a list of preferences. Prospective members are then matched to a smaller number of sororities for the next round of recruitment. The process continues for several rounds as students and chapters narrow down their choices. The week ends with a final Bid Day, which took place on Jan. 19, at which point new members received a bid from one of the chapters.