Fraternity and Sorority New Membership Numbers

OXFORD, Ohio – Formal panhellenic sorority and interfraternity council fraternity recruitment season is over, and the numbers of new members joining Miami fraternity and sorority life (FSL) chapters are in. Despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and a virtual recruitment experience, the number of new Miami FSL members this year is consistent with previous years, bucking national trends.

National Trends

A national study completed in December by Phired Up indicates campuses around the country have seen a decrease in new members joining fraternities and sororities during the fall. Phired Up is a national leader in FSL research, curriculum and programming.

According to the study, which surveyed 82 campuses across the country, “90% of professionals reported that fewer people joined IFC chapters,” and “86% of professionals reported that fewer people joined their Panhellenic chapters.”

Data from 166 institutions indicated that panhellenic sororities saw “a decrease of 9,973 (14%) total registrations” and a similar percent drop-off in number of accepted bids from the previous year. 

Miami’s Numbers

4 female masked students wearing sorority chapter shirts in an empty Wilks TheaterRecruitment was held virtually this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic Similar to national trends, Miami’s panhellenic sorority registrations decreased approximately 10% fewer registrants this year. However, they experienced a slight increase in total number of accepted bids in the same timeframe.

Miami is one of a handful of campuses with deferred recruitment for FSL. Students must complete a semester of college courses before joining a chapter in their second collegiate semester. 

“Comparing Miami’s spring recruitment data to the fall recruitment numbers reported in the study is reasonable because it compares our primary recruitment cycle,” said Drew Davis, assistant director for business operations for the Cliff Alexander office of fraternity and sorority life. 

Anecdotal information from peer institutions communicated in conversations with staff members in the Cliff Alexander office of fraternity and sorority life support the study findings. 

“We’ve been hearing from colleagues serving other FSL communities that most saw a decrease in participation in their recruitment processes” said Kim Vance, director of the Cliff Alexander office of fraternity and sorority life.

At Miami, 914 sorority members accepted bids this year, up from 902 in 2020 and 891 in 2019. New fraternity members declined slightly from 2020, but the number was still higher than 2019, demonstrating some stability in bid acceptances despite a virtual format and the COVID-19 pandemic.

IFC and Panhellenic potential new members (PNMs) compared to accepted bids, 2019-2021
Group 2021 2020 2019
IFC Registered PNMs 802 920 797
IFC Accepted Bids 564 620 539
Panhellenic Registered PNMs 1129  1252 1138
Panhellenic Accepted Bids 914  902 891

Staff in the Cliff Alexander office attribute the steady numbers of students both registering for recruitment and accepting bids to the strong foundation of FSL at Miami and a desire among students to find connections with other students in this unprecedented time.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Greek governing councils have also sought to develop a more inclusive and open community this year, implementing new diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) leadership positions on their executive boards. Many fraternities and sororities on campus have followed suit, adding a focus on DEI issues with their own chapter positions. 

These positions aim to provide better education to their members and more welcoming environments within the community to students of all backgrounds and identities. 

“The Cliff Alexander office will continue evaluating the data, both internally and nationally,” said Davis. “We will continue being a leader in fraternity and sorority life across the country by providing meaningful connections and experiences for Miami students.”