Mailbag: My Sisters Are Weird — What Can I Do?

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My Sisters Are Weird

Warning: Shit’s about to get real. A reader emailed in with some concerns about spring recruitment, and I’ve provided my honest advice. The number one most important thing in a sorority is sisterhood. If you don’t have that, you don’t have anything…but that’s not the only thing that matters.I know we want to believe that rankings don’t matter — it’s shallow, and mean, and shouldn’t be the basis of judgment for our own chapters — but when you’re living in a Greek world, they do. This is not politically correct. This is shallow. This is vain. This is recruitment.

With that said, let’s move on to our reader’s question.

Dear Hot Piece,

So I just joined a new sorority on campus, and I need some advice. We are the charter class, but our recruiters recruited some totally random (and fairly weird) girls in addition to the majority of good (and hot) girls. The random girls just don’t really seem to fit in with the rest of us, and the rest of us aren’t really that close either (our charter class is over 100 girls). What can we do to make sure our chapter is successful and that we recruit really good girls? The other chapters on campus are well-established and have pretty set stereotypes, and we do formal recruitment in the spring so all the PNMs have an idea of where they want to go before they rush.

It’s not surprising that your pledge class isn’t supremely close right now. You didn’t have a pledge mom organizing things for you. You didn’t have bigs forcing you on playdates with your pledge sisters. You’ve honestly only known each other for a semester. The closeness will come in time. Recruitment is the number one biggest bonding time of the year for any sorority, and there’s no doubt in my mind that spending 24 hours a day for two weeks with these girls will forge some bonds. Don’t worry about that. The problem will mend itself as time goes on.

As far as the weird girls, though, this is almost universally a problem for new chapters. Your recruiters essentially created something from nothing, so it’s very difficult for a house to immediately have its own “character,” early on. A lot of times, those recruiters are coming from different chapters of your sorority themselves, so they don’t even have a collective feel for the “type” of girl they’re looking for. The girls from the hot chapter recruit hot girls. The girls from the smart chapter recruit smart girls. The girls from the weird chapter recruit weird girls. The result is an enigma, which admittedly makes things difficult when it comes to recruiting, because the chapter, at this point could go in any direction.

I know you’re really nervous that PNMs are seeing you around campus, hearing about your reputation, and not wanting you. Don’t worry about that. PNMs don’t get to choose where they go. The top tier controls recruitment, and that’s a sad fact of the thing. Everyone likes to pretend the mutual selection process is bogus, because it’s the sororities doing the selecting — that’s bogus too. The best sororities are doing the selecting. Then the middle tier picks from who’s left. Then the bottom tier hopes that the remainder of the girls would rather be in any sorority than no sorority at all. Usually they do, and it would be my suggestion to go bottom-tier if you have to, because at the end of the day, friendship is what you’re looking for.

As a new chapter, you are not top tier. That’s okay, but don’t get upset when PNMs don’t view you as top tier. It’s tough, because you love your chapter, and don’t realize how any person in the world couldn’t see why it’s the best, but until a girl joins your sisterhood, she won’t know. Don’t be upset that you’re not on top. Celebrate that you’re not on the bottom. Just like you haven’t had enough time for people to figure you out as hot stuff, they also haven’t had enough time to give you a negative stigma. All you have to work on during your first recruitment is being better than the bottom tier. You need to rock the middle tier hard. Show the middle tier that you are, in fact, competition, and then slowly, with each new pledge class, you will have fewer and fewer weird girls. By the time you’re a senior, you might be able to fully secure a reputation close to the top tier, but the transition takes more than a year.

It sounds like you might have too many weird girls to kind of completely hide them, so you’ve got to do your best to blend them in. Here are my suggestions

1. Heterogeneous Bump Groups
Power bump groups are not your best bet. I know it seems like a good idea to have some PNMs bombarded with talent, but it’s not helpful when they see the girl next to them talking to socially awkward girl after socially awkward girl. The recruitment committee needs to sit together and analyze each of your sisters. This will be incredibly awkward. You need to take the same points that you’re ranking the PNMs on (personality and presentation are the big ones that come to mind), and rate your sisters. Each bump group should have some of your best recruitment stars (the most outgoing, and easy to talk to, and super beautiful), and pair them with girls who might struggle a little more as recruiters. So you want a weird girl to be sandwiched between two really pretty, sociable girls. That way, a PNM might think the weird girl is just an exception, and she generally leaves with a relatively positive view of the chapter. The alternative is a really great PNM being immediately be turned off by a tight knit group of weirdos, and you’re not at a point where you can be losing that many PNMs each round.

2. MATCHING
Matching is crucial. Depending on how many girls you’re able to drop after each round, it may be difficult. You may not be able to match by the second round, but by the third round, you should really try to match PNMs up with sisters, based on interest. The easiest way to do this would be to go through the PNMs over winter break, before recruitment even begins, and figure out what they like to do. Find out what each of your sisters likes to do, then make sure the girl who’s OBSESSED with celebrity gossip is talking to a PNM who’s obsessed with celebrity gossip. You’re likely to fall in love with a sorority a lot more easily after meeting a sister who’s “like, the same exact person” as you are. Don’t leave that up to chance. You want good conversations to be flowing, and the best way to facilitate that is common ground.

3. Tough Voting
Even though you probably won’t have the numbers to drop as many girls as you’d like, you should still be critical with them. Don’t be “nice” just because you’re afraid to be mean — that’s how weird girls slip through the cracks. It’s okay to be tough, because these girls are going to be representing your sorority and you come bid day. You want to have a good haul, and you can only accomplish that by making sure you issue bids to as few “bad eggs” as possible.

4. Be Nice To Everyone
Even though there are PNMs whom you’d never want in your sorority, you still have to recruit them as if you do. They will leave your house and talk to their rush groups about how it went. If they’re saying you’re socially awkward, or rude, or arrogant, that can have an effect on other PNMs who’d maybe not yet formed an opinion on you. Furthermore, the remainder of their rush group is the future of Greek life. The opinions the newest pledge classes form on your sorority is an opinion that will likely stick with them for a few years. Make it a good one.

5. Pay Attention To Appearance
There are undoubtedly girls in your sorority who have bad hairstyles, or wear too much eyeliner, or buy clothing that doesn’t fit them properly. These may not be things you can keep an eye on all year long, but these are all fixable things during recruitment. Your recruitment chair and her committee should absolutely be approving everything that happens during recruitment, and that includes the sisters. Every girl’s outfit should be checked out by an authority figure, and if it’s not flattering, tell her it’s unacceptable! You don’t have to tell her she looks obese in it, but tell her it’s not going to work for recruitment. Don’t let her wear something fugly just to be nice. Have someone do the hair and makeup of the girls who suck at it themselves. Make an effort to fix anything you can possibly fix. If a girl is overweight, invite her to the gym. If a girl ends up with a scar on her face for some reason, cover that up, or don’t let her participate in recruitment. It’s not pleasant to look at, and like it or not, that is going to affect a lot of freshman girls, who are coming directly out of high school, the very most shallow of places.

6. Don’t Show Disappointment
No matter how amazingly you do during recruitment, you’re still not going to get your pick of PNMs. Nobody gets their pick, but the top tier, as I mentioned. You are going to see some girls you wanted to drop come bid day, and you’re going to be hopelessly searching for some girls you wanted to keep, who went elsewhere. Keep your disappointment within your close group of friends. Nothing is worse PR than hearing “XYZ sorority was freaking out, because they were so disappointed in their newest pledge class.” At the end of the day, no one is really going to ever see all of your pledges in one place, but your sorority, so it’s your job to make everyone believe they really are the HOTTEST BABIES EVER. No matter what, you have to act like you are the happiest person on Earth when you see the babies running home, and eventually you will be. These girls are going to be your sisters and you should celebrate them. As long as their pledge class is overall a little bit better than your own was, you’re making progress, you’re making friends, and that’s all that matters.

Good luck with recruitment!

***

Veronica (@VeronicaRuckh) is the Director of Total Sorority Move for Grandex, Inc. After having spent her undergraduate years drinking $4 double LITs on a patio and drunk texting away potential suitors, she managed to graduate with an impressive GPA and an unimpressive engagement ring -- so unimpressive, in fact, some might say it's not there at all. Veronica has since been fulfilling her duties as "America's big," a title she gave to herself with the help of her giant ego. She has recently switched from vodka to wine on weekdays. Email her at veronica@grandex.co

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