W&L women, what’s the rush?

W&L sororities experience their first recruitment on the revised, earlier schedule

Sutton Travis

Winter break may feel short, but it felt especially rushed for Washington and Lee women this year.

Sorority women and potential new members returned to campus by Jan. 6 to participate in formal recruitment, which lasted through bid day on Jan. 10. In previous years, formal recruitment took place during the first week of winter term classes.

“My personal thoughts on the schedule change are overall very positive,” Amy Perkins, Director of Residence and Greek Life, said. “I can’t speak for the students, but l would certainly hope that the women felt relieved not having to balance class, homework and recruitment all at the same time.”

After W&L’s Panhellenic Council survey conducted in winter term of 2015 found that sorority women reported difficulties managing academics and recruitment simultaneously, the Council approached the six sorority chapters about moving formal recruitment to the week prior to classes. The chapters voted unanimously to approve the change.

“I was pretty receptive to the idea of rush cutting into my break because having to deal with school and rush was pretty stressful the year before,” Elizabeth Schmitz, ‘17, said. “When the initial plan was proposed, I was excited because I’d rather give up a few days of my break than stay up ‘til 3 a.m. completing homework and reading. Because there were not extra things to worry about, I think everyone actually had a more enjoyable and relaxed rush experience.”

A potential drawback of the change was that it required sorority women and potential new members to return to campus early, making winter break a few days shorter for those involved.

“While I was excited to return to campus and see all my friends, the uncertainty about the entire rush process and how it would function made me think that maybe I should just skip it and stay home with my family,” Emily Bair, ‘19, said. “Looking back now, I am very glad rush was before classes. Honestly, I’m not sure I would have thought the rush process would have been worth giving up homework time if it had been during a week of classes.”

Without classes and the majority of of campus activities in session, potential new members that did not complete the recruitment process had fewer options to busy themselves with during the remainder of recruitment than in previous years.

“As a peer counselor, I have mixed feelings about how [the schedule change] impacted the freshmen,” Laney Fay, ‘17, said. “It definitely had a negative impact on girls who started the rush process and then withdrew or were dropped. Peer counselors, the outing club and other groups did a good job trying to plan events for girls who ended up in those situations, but it was still a harder time for them. I think the change was a step in the right direction, but there are still adjustments to be made for the sake of future freshmen.”

In upcoming weeks, Panhellenic Council will meet with the chapters and administration to discuss the schedule change and whether it should be applied to next year’s formal recruitment.

“Change is never easy and no recruitment week is ever perfect, but I view the change as an overall success,” Perkins said. “I certainly think there are things we can do better and I hope we can build on this year’s momentum and continue to make recruitment a positive experience for everyone involved. As for this being a permanent change in schedule, that’s up to students to decide.”