Screams and squeals of joy erupted across Mercer University on Sept. 8, 2023. The annual girls bid day, which celebrates the end of panhellenic recruitment, sent a crowd of excited new members "home" to their sororities.
Unlike many schools, Mercer participates in delayed recruitment, which often starts after Labor Day. Following a few days of recruitment and visiting sororities, the week ends with "bid day," when each incoming member gets formally invited into one of the sororities. Mercer has four panhellenic sororities on campus: Alpha Delta Pi, Alpha Gamma Delta, Chi Omega and Phi Mu.
On the Mercer Panhellenic webpage it states that “Panhellenic's Purpose is to promote unity and cooperation among all fraternities and sororities, as well as foster growth and responsibility in the academic, social, emotional, and civic aspect of a college's woman's life by providing various outlets for development in these areas."
The process of recruitment is curated so both incoming students and the pre-existing members can benefit, said Executive Director of Campus Life and Student Involvement Meredith E. Keating White.
“It is a mutual selection process and in the first round of recruitment, the interested students meet all houses. In the second round, they can visit up to three of the four houses. The final night they can visit up to two of the four houses. And then on bid day, the hope is that everyone matches with their one house that they will become a member of,” White said.
On bid day, the potential new members who partook in recruitment week meet under the tent of the sorority they have joined, get “glittered up," and then run to meet their new sisters in front of Greek Village for a huge group hug and singing of unique chants for each sorority.
The event has become quite the spectacle even for students who are not going through recruitment or are already in a sorority. Many students gather outside the University Center and around Greek Row to watch the festivities every bid day.
According to White, recruitment is a time for students to make connections within the university.
“When joining a sorority, you're able to meet the people that you're going through recruitment with and hopefully make some connections there,” she said. “You are assigned a mentor for the week, called Pi Chi’s, so you're able to get to know another student, especially if you're a first-year student, you get to know another upperclassman student, and then also meet everyone in the chapters.”
However, not every bid day story is a happy homecoming. There is not a guaranteed happy ending for every person who goes through recruitment. Zoe Monlina ‘27 said she was “crushed” when she did not connect with the two sororities she preferred, and ultimately decided to drop out of recruitment. However, Molina said she still found some positives in the process.
“A benefit that I definitely found within it was handling disappointments gracefully. I will say that but then I also made some new friends. I felt a little bit better about talking to more people and stuff like that. It is great for getting out there and talking to people and meeting new people. So I would say that that is a huge benefit from it,” Molina said.
Situations like Molina’s are somewhat common in the recruitment process, but many people still gain unique experiences from going through the recruitment process no matter the outcome.
“The hope is that even if someone does not join a chapter, ultimately that they find some, you know, people that they may want to stay connected with after the fact on campus, and then if you join a sorority, that's deeper connections to Mercer, to your peers and to history. And then hopefully you'll be more engaged after graduation as well,” White explained.
Each year Mercer's four sororities decorate and theme their bid day with a specific idea. The 2023 bid day themes were western "Alpha Delta Valley," Chi Omega's 80s nod "On the Block," the pastels and dreamy motifs of "Dreaming of Phi Mu since 1862," and Alpha Gamma Delta's "Wanna be Gotta be AGD" based around the sorority's signature colors.
“This has been another great recruitment. And we're really excited to see where, where these new members go,” White said as a final note.
Maura Rutledge ‘25 is a Journalism student at Mercer University. She has previously worked for The Cluster as an Arts and Culture and News reporter, and currently works as the Managing Editor. She enjoys thrifting, fashion, reading and writing in her spare time.