Classes are under way for the 2023 Fall semester and Clemson University’s main campus is already buzzing with excitement.
The primary driver behind the enthusiasm? Panhellenic recruitment activities culminated with Bid Day on a steamy Tuesday that saw 1,300 students find new homes in Clemson’s 13 sorority chapters.
Last academic term, sororities in the College Panhellenic Association (CPA) grew to more than 4,200 members — representing 68 percent of the Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) makeup of Clemson’s undergraduate population.
Affiliation with FSL has proven to benefit Clemson students. Last year, CPA sororities achieved cumulative grade point averages of at least 3.5 during both the Fall and Spring semesters. Additionally, the most recent data shows a 98-percent retention rate and 93-percent six-year graduation rate for first-year members, both higher than overall and unaffiliated student rates.
“We continue to have record-breaking growth,” says Gary Wiser, assistant dean of students and FSL director. “Students believe joining a fraternity or sorority adds to their Clemson Experience. These women are finding immediate engagement and connections, to have a smaller family within the larger University structure.”
To accommodate the growth in Panhellenic, FSL leaders moved Bid Day from its traditional location in the Fraternity Sorority Quad to the Upper Intramural Fields. Aspiring new members heard from members of the Panhellenic executive board before opening acceptance letters and rushing across the field to greet their new sisters.
“Bid Day is a celebration of women we can mentor and grow as sisters,” says Gabriela Villicana, a senior business major and Panhellenic president. “It’s getting to know new friends and members of our community.”
Claire Floyd, vice president of recruitment for Panhellenic, says the week-long experience can be emotional, stressful and tiring. But she also acknowledges the hard work comes to fruition as students accept bids and celebrate with their respective organizations.
“This day is when it all comes together, where the women find a place they belong and feel supported,” says Floyd, a senior health science major. “Bid Day is the most rewarding part of the process.”
Three sorority chapters welcome ClemsonLIFE students as new members
Bid Day was rewarding on many levels. Perhaps no group enjoyed it more than the four ClemsonLIFE students who were accepted as new members across three chapters — Alpha Delta Pi, Chi Omega and Delta Delta Delta. Fifty-three ClemsonLIFE students have joined campus sororities and fraternities since 2016.
“This is the Clemson Family at its finest,” says Erica Walters, program director for ClemsonLIFE. “It’s very moving for the parents — many of whom were in attendance — who may have initially thought this would not have been a possibility for their student. ClemsonLIFE is embraced by our Panhellenic groups.”
Taylor Nixon serves as vice president for inclusion and belonging in Panhellenic and coordinates recruitment activities for ClemsonLIFE students.
“The students are shaking with excitement, which feeds my excitement,” says Nixon, a senior psychology major and first-year executive board member. “One of the ClemsonLIFE women was initiated into my sorority (Chi Omega) and when she called me her sister, I began bawling.”
Tears flowed throughout the morning during what Villicana describes as one of the most impactful moments of the Panhellenic experience.
“ClemsonLIFE students are fully invested and excited and bring a joy we don’t see every day in recruitment,” says Villicana, a senior business major. “They’ve had to go through a lot to get to this point, and that’s why we’re all sobbing while their parents and support system are turning them over to us. It’s so special.”