Student Research Projects

Pan-Hellenic Women and Release Figures: How Sorority Women Think a New Method of Recruitment Will Affect Their Organizations

Student Kathleen Kern
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Sociology


Sorority recruitment is a process that takes place on many college campuses every year. The recruitment process is what enables each sorority chapter to continue growing and operating as an organization. There are several ways in which the recruitment process is carried out, some unique to each college campus. However, there are guidelines put in place by the National Pan-Hellenic Council to which each participating college must adhere. Much like any other process, at the conclusion of every recruitment cycle, it is necessary to evaluate what worked well for the individuals and the organization, and what could be modified for the future. Studying this process has application for campus Greek organizations specifically, while also informing wider organizational recruitment processes more generally.

A new form of sorority recruitment known as the release figures method has been instituted within the last five years. This method of recruitment involves utilizing a number system that allows for potential new women and sorority chapters to both partake in the decision making process. It was instituted to help encourage women to participate in recruitment, as well as through the entire process. It has been found that since its implementation, retention rates have been slowly rising.

Prior to the spring 2009 trial of the release figures method of sorority recruitment, I conducted an exploratory study examining how Pan-Hellenic women at a small, liberal arts college viewed the impending change. I specifically looked at how the participants perceived the release figures method would affect organizations based on their size. These women had a relatively positive outlook on the release figures method due to it pairing mutual selection with a number system based off of each chapter's total number of members. The participants predicted that smaller sororities would benefit by being able to recruit a larger group of women while larger sororities would be able to focus on a select few women due to the limited number of openings available in their chapter. Follow-up research on the outcomes of the release figures method after a year of implementation can provide a more rounded picture of this implementation.

This study is important because effective recruitment is a concern not only pertinent to the continuation of sororities but is also crucial to organizations "across the board," including colleges, businesses, and sports teams. For colleges, studying recruitment processes can impact student retention rates at campuses across the nation because students tied to an organization are often more likely to commit to staying all 4 years at the college they attend. For the individual students, it has been found that those who are members of Greek organizations gain leadership and networking skills by fulfilling chapter duties. Sororities also model many other types of organizations in their proceedings and if this new method of recruitment is found to be beneficial, it may benefit similar organizations in a similar manner. Gaining a better understanding of the intricate parts of organizational recruitment (including maintaining interest, follow-through, and fit as emphasized by the recruit figures method) also informs the wider literature on group dynamics and organizational studies. It becomes easier to see what proves to be beneficial for the person being recruited as well as the people/organization doing the recruiting, with the end goal of making the process mutually selective and the best "fit" for all involved.


Association of Applied and Clinical Sociology