Early in the morning on a cold day in late January, 600-plus eager young women prepared for a process that could change the course of their college careers. Their collective enthusiasm filled the air as they lined up outside the nine sorority houses in Elon University’s Loy Center. Inside, sorority sisters were ready to greet the potential new members and introduce them to their respective organizations.

Elon’s formal Spring Panhellenic Recruitment ran Jan. 28-31. Each day, potential new members learned more about the various sororities and selected which houses they wanted to return to the next day.

Recruitment at Elon operates on a mutual selection process. Women going through recruitment rank the sororities they visited that day and select the ones they would most like to return to the next day. The sororities decide which candidates they would like to invite back. According to the Office of Greek Life’s website, this process is designed to work in favor of new members to give them the best chance of returning to as many houses as possible.

Still, a significant number of women did not receive bids — or invitations to join­ — from one of the sororities they visited over the four days, either because they chose not to continue the process or because the sororities chose not to invite them back.

“I know a few people [who didn’t complete the recruitment process],” said freshman Zaria Zinn, who just received a bid from Kappa Delta. “I think it’s a combination of the number of people rushing this year, but I also think some people decided that [Greek Life] wasn’t for them, and some people also just decided that Greek Life was maybe for them but there wasn’t an organization on campus that they felt at home at.”

Candidates chose not to complete the recruitment process for a variety of reasons.

“The majority of women who do not receive an invitation withdraw from the process at some point,” the Office of Greek Life’s website says. “Many of those students had their hearts set on a particular organization, and when that chapter is no longer an option for them, they choose to withdraw rather than look at the other organizations. There are also a small number of women who complete this process and do not receive a bid. This is usually because a student did not ‘maximize her options,’ meaning that the student was unwilling to consider membership in one of the sororities that was interested in her.”

Bids are given out on Bid Day, the end of the formal recruitment process, and for 505 women, it was a day of celebration. But Bid Day wasn’t a day to celebrate for many others who left empty-handed

recruitmentgraphicOf the 638 freshmen and sophomores who began the process, 505 received bids. This left 133 women who didn’t receive bids or chose to drop from the process. These women made up 21 percent of the original group, meaning 1-in-5 did not receive a bid.

The number of women registered for recruitment has risen over the last 10 years, since 392 registered in 2005.

Ten years ago, about 44 percent of female freshmen went through recruitment. Of the 928 female freshmen in the class of 2018, 532 — or 57 percent — went through recruitment.

The number of women registering for recruitment has increased at a much faster rate than the general student population. The increase since 2005 in the number of female freshmen going through recruitment is more than double the increase in the size of the freshman class in the same time period: 55 and 21 percent, respectively.

Currently, around 38 percent of Elon’s female undergraduate population is involved in Greek Life. Women going through the recruitment process noticed.

“It was overwhelming,” said freshman Lizzie Conley, who received a bid from Alpha Omicron Pi. “It was a lot.”

Though the number of students going through recruitment has grown, the number that receives bids hasn’t kept pace. Regardless, the large number of girls going through recruitment has effects beyond Elon’s Greek community.

“I was working during the recruitment process,” said unaffiliated senior Alisha Carter, an admissions tour guide. “We give tours out of Moseley, and Moseley was just filled with girls. It kind of overpowered what we were trying to do.”

The effects spread beyond campus. Michaelle Graybeal owns All That JAS, a store that sells primarily Greek wear. Graybeal said, regardless of the number of girls going through recruitment, JAS seems to get the same amount of business.

“Insanity would probably be the best way to describe [this time of year],” Graybeal said. “After Bid Day you have 600-plus girls that have just gotten in, and they’re very excited about being able to be in a sorority and they’re very excited to wear letters. It’s pretty insane for us — in a good way. The day after Bid Day is crazy. They were out the door this morning buying stuff.”

Of the increased number of women going through recruitment, Graybeal said it didn’t affect the final result.

“What I’ve seen is that the groups buy Bid Day packages from us, and numbers have gone up a little but not a lot,” Graybeal said. “I don’t know that they ended up with that many more girls.”

If Elon continues to grow, Greek Life organizations may have to adapt to accommodate increasing numbers of freshmen and sophomores eager to join sororities and fraternities.

Senior reporter Danielle Deavens contributed reporting.