Boston University sororities and fraternities held Spring Recruitment and Rush the past two weekends over Zoom — an experience that had unexpected difficulties and upsides for prospective members trying to make a connection.
Fraternities hold recruitment twice a year, and completed the process virtually this Fall. Sororities at BU only host recruitment in the Spring, meaning this was their first virtual experience with the process.
Traditionally, potential new members — PNMs — would have four full days of in-person interviews with members of different sororities over the course of two weekends before progressively narrowing down their selections until bid day. This year, the whole process was virtual.
College of Communication junior Maya Jones, a member of the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority, said Zoom allowed for a “more casual” and “less stressful” environment that gave her a better sense of the PNMs’ personalities.
“Seeing them in their rooms, you kind of get a glimpse into their life and personalities just from your background,” Jones said. “I think you get a better look into who you’re recruiting in a way.”
Grace Rembert, a freshman in the College of Fine Arts, said Zoom created a less intense recruitment process, which she said was “refreshing.”
“There was so much less pressure regarding clothes and style and appearance,” Rembert said. “I feel like it made it more accessible to people who can’t necessarily afford high end clothes.”
However, despite the more relaxed environment that Zoom provided, Rembert said she still had concerns with finding the sorority that would be the best fit.
“You spent so little time with them, and often you only got to talk to one girl from a chapter,” she said, “which made it really hard to figure out if the vibe of the chapter overall was what you were looking for or if it was just that girl.”
Rembert said the first day of recruitment consisted of 10 to 15 minutes with each sorority. She said she was “exhausted” after all of the socializing.
“I was really tired from so much socializing and talking to all the different girls,” Rambert said, “and it was really an overload of information.”
However, Rembert said she was able to make stronger connections with the sororities she spoke with for the full duration of recruitment.
“I do feel like I got a really good feel for those ones,” she said, “the ones I ended up sticking with for all four days.”
Jones said the virtual format also presented obstacles from the sororities’ side. It was difficult to fully connect with PNMs over Zoom because of the inability to decorate the recruitment room and show off the chapter’s personality.
“I guess that’s what the new members are sort of missing too,” Jones said. “They can’t get the best sense of our chapter because we are talking through a screen, so they can’t really see what we’re all about.”
Rembert added that virtual conversations with sorority members required more effort than in-person meetings.
“I do think that holding conversations over Zoom is sometimes more difficult than holding conversations in person,” she said. “I feel like everyone on both ends was working a little bit harder to find things that you connected with.”
College of Arts and Sciences senior Sarah Safi, president of the Gamma chapter of the international business and foreign service co-ed fraternity Delta Phi Epsilon, said translating events into a Zoom format is a difficult process.
“Social events have been the hardest to kind of replicate over Zoom,” Safi said. “There are only so many things you could do virtually to create a social event.”
Safi said virtual events can still allow for a sense of community.
“It definitely isn’t the same kind of feeling,” she said, “but it’s still nice to kind of regroup at the end of the week and see familiar faces and kind of reminisce on when things were in person.”
With the difficulty of transforming social events into virtual events, Zoom fatigue has also become a prominent issue throughout recruitment.
Jones said during recruitment, she spent nearly 12 hours on Zoom each day, and often needed to take a rest.
“I have to take breaks, I have to close my eyes for a little bit,” Jones said. “It’s just a little too much screen time for me.”
Safi said Delta Phi Epsilon took into account how much students’ daily lives are now on Zoom and reduced their original recruitment requirements so pledges didn’t have to attend as many events.
“That’s a significant amount of time spent in front of a screen and that definitely takes a toll on you mentally and physically,” Safi said.
Despite all of the challenges posed by Zoom, Rembert said recruitment allowed her to meet a lot of other students at BU, which she hadn’t had the opportunity to do before.
“I have not met that many people at one time since I’ve been at BU because of COVID restrictions and everything,” Rembert said. “It was really, really refreshing to see everyone from across the country and in all different majors and sororities.”
Yiran Yu is the business features associate editor at The Daily Free Press and a member of the Delta Phi Epsilon executive board. She was not involved in the editing of this article.