Greek expectations: formal sorority recruitment at FGCU

5 – minute read

In 2021, TikTok viewers were introduced to sorority recruitment at the University of Alabama and #BamaRush became an obsession for many. Each August, many anxiously await the handful of days they can watch potential new members (college women not yet affiliated with a sorority) and sorority sisters (college women initiated into a Greek-letter society) share their OOTD (outfit of the day) and provide updates on their trek through joining a ‘Bama sorority.


But is that what “rushing” a sorority is like on other campuses? Is that what it’s like at Florida Gulf Coast University?

“Well, we don’t call it ‘rush’ anymore,” says Gabriella Silva (’17, communication), a coordinator in Campus Reservations. Silva is a founding member of Alpha Chi Omega at FGCU and serves as the chapter’s on-campus adviser.


“We say ‘sorority recruitment’ now,” agrees Julie Gleason, assistant dean of students and director of fraternity and sorority life.

Seven hundred miles away from the University of Alabama and its tradition-driven process, Silva and Gleason work hand in hand with collegiate women to bring values-based sorority recruitment to FGCU.

FGCU Bid Day
On bid day 2023, hundreds of sorority sisters dressed in their organization’s colors gathered on the Library Lawn.
FGCU staff
Gabriela Silva and Julie Gleason at bid day 2023.

Greek life at FGCU


The community of fraternity men and sorority women is often referred to as Greek life because the Greek alphabet was used in naming the organizations. According to Gleason, college students join these organizations for friendship, service, leadership and academic development. She tells parents and students, “There are a million ways to get involved on a college campus. Greek life is one.”


FGCU is home to 13 sororities and 14 fraternities. While all hold recruitment events in the fall, only certain chapters participate in a formal process guided by the Panhellenic Association (PHA), the governing body of recognized National Panhellenic Conference sororities.


At FGCU, seven sororities belong to the Panhellenic Association and participate in formal fall recruitment. According to Gleason, the average PHA sorority chapter has 90 members.

Alison Harbinsky has served on the sisterhood and recruitment committees of her collegiate chapter of Delta Delta Delta. Now in her senior year, the nursing major from New Jersey serves as vice president of membership for FGCU’s Panhellenic Association.


“Our recruitment is a values-based one. Before a potential new member walks through a door, they walk through some activities to see what they truly value,” Harbinsky says.


Silva says it’s an important activity. “I remind my chapter that they’re recruiting potential new members to become our sisters, and we want to align on a deeper level.” She says FGCU promotes sorority recruitment in a different way than what is often seen on social media. “People join people, not just an organization. The purpose is to connect with someone.”

Excitement of bid day


While formal fall recruitment revolves around hosting a structured system of events, or rounds, there are stark differences between what’s on social media and what’s found at FGCU.

“It’s challenging to combat what they see,” Harbinsky says of potential new members who come to college with preconceived notions of sororities. “Recruitment is a personal process, but I’m also not here to judge a woman who feels empowered by showing off her outfit on social media.”


FGCU Panhellenic does post recruitment tips and other promotional messaging on Instagram and Facebook. But posts focus on values-based recruitment, Harbinsky says. The Panhellenic Association team runs potential new members through an exercise to discover what is most important to them. Categories in the exercise cover material possessions, people, personal traits, memories and goals.


The closest FGCU’s Panhellenic Association gets to a production-worthy event is called bid day. The culmination of the formal recruitment process, bid day takes place one day before the start of classes. In the Cohen Student Union ballroom, Gleason and the Panhellenic Association team meet with the potential new members to distribute bids, or offers of membership, from one or more sororities.


“Bid day is an exciting day where you get to see everyone you met during recruiting and who they run ‘home’ to, as in the sorority they matched with,” says Silva. It’s her favorite part of formal recruitment.


On bid day 2023, hundreds of sorority sisters dressed in their organization’s colors gathered on the Library Lawn, creating an exuberant tapestry. A swarm of students began arriving from the student union. A drone captured the excitement as sorority sisters engulfed their newest members in hugs and cheers, marking the start of a lifelong bond of sisterhood for many.

“When I was a collegiate member, we hadn’t transitioned yet to values-based recruitment,” says Silva. “We dressed our room up to the nines to convince new members to choose our chapter as if a cute, sequined curtain would be the deciding factor. But that’s changed over the years. Values-based recruitment focuses more on the conversations we have and not the frills recruitment is famously known for.


“Because it’s not four years, but for life,” Silva says, invoking the common refrain heard across Greek life.

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