Panhellenic Council reflects on this year’s rush

Sixty-six percent of female, first-year students joined sororities, a smaller percentage than last year.


Sorority row at Washington and Lee University. Photo by Hannah Denham, ’20.

Hannah Denham

This year five female students were released from the formal sorority recruitment, a shift from no releases last year.

“It was so successful and normal that those who were released or withdrew this year were especially disappointed,” said Hannah Dewing, ‘19, president of the Panhellenic Council.

But it’s a small percentage compared to the numbers that joined. A total of 188 women rushed, and 174 of them were first-year students, Dewing said.

Director of Greek Life Corey Gant said this year had a smaller percentage of first-year women that joined Greek life at 66 percent, despite the fact that the number is higher. This resulted in a higher quota for each sorority, at 27 students, and larger classes of new members.

“Recruitment is a mutual selection process,” Dewing said. “While the potential new members are ranking, the sororities are ranking as well.”

Two of the students were released because they single intentional preferenced during the last night of formal recruitment. Colloquially referred to as “suicide rush,” this means that students rank only one sorority after visiting both on the last day of recruitment. 

Dewing said that Panhellenic Council makes potential new members (PNMs) aware of this before formal recruitment starts.

“Trust the system,” Dewing said. “Everything  seems to work itself out somehow, even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment. Everybody finds a place here.”

Andy Smithey, ‘20, is a Rho Gamma, a program through Panhellenic Council in which she briefly disaffiliated from her sorority to work as an unbiased guide for female students during informal and formal recruitment. 

She offered advice for students who went through the formal recruitment process, regardless of the result: seek authentic relationships with Greek and unaffiliated students.

“Formal recruitment, and the following few weeks, is the largest span of time that Greek Life seems like it is your entire world,” she said. “While it is a big part of our campus, being a part of it or not does not have to define you as a person or your time at Washington and Lee. There are plenty of opportunities to be with friends, do community service, and even go out at night.”

Dewing said she plans to continue working toward a united Greek system in her role. She said the highlight of her involvement with Panhellenic Council was helping establish diversity and inclusion chairs to represent each sorority with the Office of Inclusion and Engagement.

“I’d really like to have a united Greek system where not only Greeks feel included in their chapters and other chapters feel included but also independents and PNMs,” Dewing said. “I think it’s important to make sure these groups feel seen and important and included.” 

Maya Lora contributed to this report.