AU’s Panhellenic Executive Board announced on Dec. 27 via Facebook that sorority recruitment dates would be changed to allow members and recruits to attend the 2019 Women’s March on Saturday, Jan. 19.
The change came after Mackenzie Territo, Alpha Chi Omega’s vice president of recruitment, began an online petition on Dec. 7 on behalf of AU’s Panhellenic Council to change the dates of formal recruitment. The petition received more than 1,950 signatures by Dec. 27, when the Panhellenic Council announced that the dates for sorority recruitment would be changed.
“It’s pretty exciting that something actually came out of my petition and [Panhellenic’s] hard work,” Territo said.
Panhellenic Executive Board President Shannon Walsh said she was in contact with University officials to ensure that recruitment dates got changed.
“I sent the letter within the petition and three alternative solutions [to having recruitment during the Women’s March] to Dr. [Fanta] Aw, President [Sylvia] Burwell, Fraternity Sorority Life (FSL) and some others in Student Activities,” Walsh said.
Walsh met with the FSL office — Director of Student Activities Ayana Wilson, Coordinator of FSL Nadir McCoy and Assistant Director for FSL Travis Roberts — on Friday, Dec. 14. During this meeting, Wilson told Walsh that the University had decided to change recruitment dates to allow attendance at the Women’s March, Walsh said. With this change, recruitment will take place from Friday, Jan. 18 to Tuesday, Jan. 22, excluding Saturday, Jan. 19.
Following this meeting, Wilson sent an email asking Panhellenic chapter presidents to vote on the change by Dec. 21. The vote passed, as recruitment dates have since been changed.
University administration and the FSL office spent lots of winter break ensuring that rooms would be reserved for recruitment, Walsh said.
Though the vote passed, it was not unanimous. The primary concern was that sorority members and recruits would not be able to participate in AU’s offerings for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Walsh said.
Walsh added that the organizations that voted against changing recruitment dates were “receptive to conversation” in helping plan alternative events and “working toward a fully inclusive recruitment schedule for the future.”
The Panhellenic Executive Board decided amongst themselves to donate school supplies to the Black Student Fund as its way to ensure that sorority members and recruits could participate in MLK Day activities, according to the Dec. 27 Facebook post.
Following Panhellenic’s date change announcement, Walsh held virtual office hours to respond to questions, comments and concerns. Through the office hours, she said she learned of other ideas for service projects. While the Black Student Fund is not automatically ruled out, Walsh said that Panhellenic may donate to or partner with a different organization for MLK Day.
“Especially because we have been receptive to ideas and comments about our alternative event, there has been little to no backlash over missing AU's offerings [to celebrate MLK Day],” Walsh said. “We also hope to ensure that recruitment is no longer on this weekend at all in the future, and that will be an upcoming conversation.”