Understanding the Policy and Proposed Legislative Changes Related legacies and sponsorship

This page was last updated on January 28, 2021.

Grand Council has been carefully examining Pi Beta Phi’s legacy recruitment policies as well as other recruitment-related practices over the last 18 months. With feedback from members and the quickly evolving climate of higher education, Grand Council has come to the following decisions:

  • Grand Council will revise Fraternity policy and eliminate all courtesy invitations afforded to legacies during the membership recruitment process, effective Fall 2021.
  • At this summer’s convention, Grand Council will propose legislation which will revise the Constitution and Statutes to remove any reference to special consideration for legacies. The definition of a legacy will be retained.
  • In addition, Grand Council will propose legislation which will eliminate sponsorship as a requirement for membership, leading naturally to the elimination of the Alumnae Club Recruitment Information Committee (ACRIC), the Chapter Membership Selection Committee (CMSC) and the Recruitment Information Form (RIF).  Should these proposals pass, there will be no forms or processes by which alumnae offer Potential New Member (PNM) recommendations.

Simply put, a legacy recruitment policy, by nature, is inequitable. The requirement for sponsorship or necessity of a recommendation creates a barrier to joining Pi Beta Phi.  Therefore, these practices are inconsistent with Pi Beta Phi’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. 

Pi Beta Phi values the special lifelong connection a legacy presents. The legacy and legacy relationship will be celebrated through meaningful opportunities, such as pinning a legacy at Initiation. However, celebrating a legacy and favoring a legacy are not the same.

Presented below are answers to questions you may have about these policies and proposed legislative changes.


General Questions

Grand Council has been carefully examining Pi Beta Phi legacy recruitment policies as well as other recruitment-related practices over the last 18 months. This effort originated from years of conversation about the relevancy of our practices to today’s college student and today’s college campus. With the onset of COVID-19, some of these conversations – specifically those around membership sponsorship – became mission critical as the logistics we were asking chapter leaders and Alumnae Advisory Committee (AAC) members to endure while physically-distanced were unreasonably burdensome. Then, with the Fraternity more firmly expressing our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion over the summer months, we were faced with the reality that our practices may be antiquated, exclusive and create barriers.

Changes were issued for the 2020-2021 academic year. Specifically related to special consideration for legacies, chapters were given options on whether or not to extend courtesies to legacies during the recruitment process. With feedback from many within our organization and the rapidly evolving climate of higher education, Grand Council felt it imperative they were proposing the best possible solutions for Pi Beta Phi to sustain our organization into the future.

As a cornerstone of Pi Beta Phi’s recruitment philosophy, membership decisions are up to each individual chapter. Chapter members are given the opportunity to offer membership to women they feel are the best fit for their chapter.

In support of chapter recruitment efforts, alumnae are encouraged to promote the benefits of the sorority experience and their pride in Pi Beta Phi membership: tell a PNM why she should sign up for recruitment, share how Pi Beta Phi has impacted your life and help them understand the lifelong value of the sorority experience.

To support our chapters in collegiate recruitment, Alumnae Advisory Committee members and a team of Fraternity alumnae volunteers guide and advise the chapter through the recruitment process based on current trends and long-proven plans for success.

While we understand that many alumnae have been engaged in submitting RIFs and connecting with PNMs in your hometown about recruitment, recruitment support is not all that Pi Phi has to offer to our alumnae. During recruitment the number one question our chapter members get from PNMs is “Why did you pick Pi Phi?” For most members – collegians and alumnae – their answer is about the friendships, the mentorships, the sisterhoods; from the girls’ nights to book clubs to the philanthropy events. We hope your primary reason for being engaged with Pi Phi is the incredible experience, opportunities and joy it brings you. If it isn’t, and you aren’t getting what you need from your alumnae experience, we ask that you reach out to your Alumnae Club or Alumnae Engagement Director and share what types of programming and experiences in which you would like to engage.

The Fraternity has worked carefully to communicate this message transparently and as quickly as possible after decisions were made. Current Pi Beta Phi International officers, volunteers and key stakeholders were made aware just ahead of an email to all Alumnae Club officers, Alumnae Advisory Committee members, Chapter House Corporation members and Chapter Presidents. All members with current email addresses were notified on February 1, 2021, with an announcement in the all-member newsletter, Pi Beta Phi Points of Interest. On March 15, Chapter Presidents and Alumnae Club Presidents were emailed the full packet of legislation to be considered at convention.

If you don’t see your question answered on this page, you’re encouraged to email recruitment@pibetaphi.org and your question will be directed to the person best able to address it.

The Fraternity’s Legislative Committee will present a complete legislative packet in March, at which time they will host webinars for both alumnae and chapter delegates to review legislative proposals to be considered at the 2021 Convention. Convention will be held virtually June 25-27, 2021 with legislation being considered on June 26. Registration for convention will open in March.

Updates on Pi Beta Phi’s diversity, equity and inclusion work can be found at pibetaphi.org/dei.

Questions about Legacy Recruitment Changes

Per Pi Phi’s Constitution and Statutes, a daughter, sister, or granddaughter of a current initiated member is considered a legacy of the Fraternity. Chapters may add step relationships and great granddaughters as legacies in their own bylaws.

Prior to Fall 2020, known legacies were invited to the first invitational round of primary recruitment and if invited to the Preference event, legacies may be placed at the top of the bid list. Currently, chapters can choose from three legacy courtesy options for the 2020-2021 academic year:
 
  1. Follow existing legacy procedures. These chapters invite all legacies to the first invitational round and if invited to Preference, legacies will be placed at the top of the bid list.
  2. Eliminate the top of the bid list courtesy but keep the first-round invitation courtesy. These chapters invite legacies to the first invitational round.
  3. Eliminate the top of the bid list courtesy and the first-round invitation courtesy. These chapters consider legacies just as they consider any other PNM for membership. These chapters meet the requirements of the Constitution and Statutes special consideration by identifying all legacies for members of the chapter prior to the start of recruitment.

Grand Council has made the decision to revise Fraternity policy and eliminate all courtesy invitations afforded to legacies during the membership recruitment process, effective Fall 2021. This means, starting in Fall 2021, legacies will no longer receive a courtesy invitation to the first invitational round of primary recruitment and if invited to the Preference event, legacies would not be automatically placed at the top of the bid list.

At this summer’s convention, Grand Council will propose legislation which will revise the Constitution and Statutes to remove any reference to special consideration for legacies. The definition of a legacy will be retained.
 

Revision proposed:
Article I. Membership, Section 3. Legacies. A daughter, sister or granddaughter of an initiated member shall be considered a legacy of the Fraternity. Special consideration shall be given to legacies whose qualifications are comparable to those of other Potential New Members.

Regardless of the convention vote outcome, there will be no more courtesy invitations for legacies starting Fall 2021. The courtesy invitations are a recruitment policy, not a constitutional requirement. A new definition for “special consideration” will be shared with chapters to fulfill the Constitution and Statutes policy.

A recruitment legacy policy, by nature, is inequitable. Such an inequitable policy is inconsistent with Pi Beta Phi’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. The legacy policy currently employed by the Fraternity provides an advantage during the recruitment process to PNMs who are Pi Beta Phi legacies.

The goal during recruitment is to invite the very best women to membership in Pi Beta Phi. To do that, we must respect the uniqueness of each woman participating in recruitment and create an environment where all PNMs feel welcome and comfortable as their authentic selves. Pi Beta Phi cannot foster than type of environment while favoring one group of women over all the others due to their legacy status. Each PNM deserves a fair and equal opportunity to get to know the chapter members and vice versa.

In August 2020, Grand Council issued a temporary recruitment policy for the 2020-2021 academic year, allowing chapters to choose which, if any, courtesies the chapter would afford to legacies. At that time, many chapters were about to begin the recruitment process; however, it was important to address the concerns raised about the inequities of current legacy practices while the Fraternity examined options for a long-term solution. Since membership decisions are made at the chapter level, this temporary policy allowed the chapters to decide which model best fit their chapter.

However, with feedback from many within in our organization and the evolving climate of higher education, Grand Council felt it imperative we ensure we were proposing the best possible solution for Pi Beta Phi. The shift in policy allows Pi Beta Phi chapters the greatest opportunity to pledge the best women for membership in Pi Phi.

Chapters may invite as many legacies as they’d like to rounds throughout the recruitment process. This policy change is simply eliminating the requirement to do so. This also means that legacies will not be invited to rounds or ultimately to membership solely based on her legacy status. Pi Beta Phi values the special lifelong connection a legacy presents. The legacy and legacy relationship will be celebrated through meaningful opportunities, such as pinning a legacy at Initiation. Celebrating a legacy and favoring a legacy are not the same. Chapters cannot create their own policy or bylaw providing preferential treatment to legacies and/or other Potential New Members. Chapters are expected to follow the policies, as they have with policies of years past.

A PNM may indicate her legacy status on her primary recruitment application through her university's Panhellenic. There may be cases in which recruitment applications do not ask for legacy status and we anticipate that trend to grow across the country in the coming years. A PNM is also welcome to share her legacy relationship verbally with the chapter members she meets throughout the recruitment process. The Fraternity will no longer administer the Legacy Introduction Form.

Fall 2021.

A significant number of National Panhellenic Conference member organizations have made changes to their legacy polices in the last year. While Pi Beta Phi does not make this change because other organizations are doing so, the Fraternity considered the rationale for changes made by peers to inform the decision that is right for Pi Phi. In addition, we did not want to put our chapters in the position of being one of the only NPC organizations with a legacy invitation requirement on their campus.

The number of known Pi Phi legacies going through the primary recruitment process across the country tends to grow each year, so it’s difficult to say how many Pi Phi legacies will start the process next year and beyond. What we do know, based on chapter-reported data, is that, on average, Pi Beta Phi has been pledging 25% of known legacies for the last several years.

Legacy relationships (Mothers, Sisters and Grandmothers) would still have the opportunity to participate in their legacy’s Initiation ceremony. There are also a number of events, like the legacy luncheon at convention and chapter-specific events, that highlight legacy relationships and provide a way to connect with other legacy families. More informal and personal celebrations between families are other ways to celebrate and we often see examples of passing down badges, swapping member experiences, providing their new member with a lavalier or Greek letters, sharing a special meal together after Initiation, etc.

Questions about Membership Sponsorship and Recommendation Changes

At this summer’s convention, Grand Council will propose legislation that will eliminate sponsorship as a requirement for membership. Legislative proposals will also reflect the elimination of the Alumnae Club Recruitment Information Committee (ACRIC) and Chapter Membership Selection Committee (CMSC) as well as the Recruitment Information Form (RIF.)* Collectively, these proposals eliminate the processes by which alumnae offer PNM recommendations.

*Some alumnae may still refer to the RIF as a “recommendation.” The RIF is Pi Phi’s recommendation form. Though additional letters or emails to the chapter are not currently encouraged, those would also be eliminated.

Eliminating the requirement of sponsorship removes a barrier to joining Pi Phi. Additionally, a PNM who has a form/introduction/recommendation has an advantage over a PNM who does not. All PNMs should be treated as similarly as possible. We understand there may be instances when this does not happen (i.e. a sister going through Primary Recruitment or when a member knows a PNM from her hometown), but we must reduce barriers to entry as much as we can.

Should legislation related to the elimination of the requirement for sponsorship fail, the membership should still expect policy changes that will adapt current practices to be more aligned with Pi Beta Phi’s Commitment to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. In this instance, the Fraternity’s practice will shift to ensure it is a rare exception that a PNM would not be sponsored and to remove the burden on the PNM to seek sponsorship. Additionally, there will be significant revisions to the RIF and changes to current practices for processing RIFs intended to remove barriers to membership.

Chapters will be asked to dispose of any RIFs and there will no longer be a call for processing RIFs in their recruitment preparation process. Clear language describing this possibility will be provided on the recruitment webpage as well as the Online RIF page. It will be up to the alumna if she’d like to submit the RIF early with the chance it won’t be utilized, or to wait until after convention when we will know the outcome of the vote.

No. We will also ask alumnae not to send any letters of support or introductory emails to the chapter, as these will be discarded.

We encourage alumnae to consider selling the PNM on the appeal of Pi Phi as opposed to selling the chapter on the appeal of the PNM. Meaning, if you have the opportunity to talk with a PNM about the recruitment process, we hope you will share all the things you loved about your own experience. Tell her why you chose Pi Phi and what you’ve received from your experience. Alumnae have a unique opportunity to provide guidance to a PNM before she goes through the recruitment process and we hope you'll take advantage of that.

If the legislation passes and a PNM is asking for a recommendation, we will encourage alumnae to explain to the PNM that Pi Phi no longer accepts recommendations and to provide the rationale as explained above. Often, if a PNM is asking for recommendation, it’s because she is under the impression it’s required or encouraged. It will likely be a relief to the PNM!

No. The Legacy Introduction Form will also be eliminated.

A PNM may indicate her legacy status on her primary recruitment application through her university's Panhellenic. There may be cases in which recruitment applications do not ask for legacy status and we anticipate that trend to grow across the country in the coming years. A PNM is also welcome to share her legacy relationship verbally with the chapter members she meets throughout the recruitment process.

A large number of sponsorships come from “factual-only” RIFs. In this case, alumnae have indicated no personal relationship with the PNM. Further, for many chapters the process of collecting and reviewing RIFs was taking weeks or months to complete. For chapters with very large recruitment processes and perceived norms about recommendations being required, they were seeing thousands of RIFs. This requires a committee of women in the chapter to be processing those RIFs throughout the summer with very minimal return on that time investment. Members outside that committee wouldn’t ever see the RIF or the content within, only that the PNM did receive a RIF.

It’s also important to note that many chapters, especially those with smaller recruitments, receive very few RIFs ahead of recruitment. It’s simply not a common practice at some universities. In those cases, nearly all PNMs were being sponsored by the Chapter Membership Selection Committee (CMSC). Meaning, chapter officers and AAC on the CMSC were required to meet while preparing for Preference in order to simply sponsor PNMs. So while the volume of RIFs was burdensome to some chapters, requiring an extra meeting during recruitment was burdensome to others.

With these changes, the ACRIC position would be eliminated. Most alumnae clubs do not have an ACRIC currently, but those who do would no longer fill that position.

For those clubs with Alumnae Panhellenic Associations and who regularly attend Alumnae Panhellenic recruitment meetings, you may consider another club officer to attend on the club’s behalf. If the meetings are strictly related to recommendations, then attendance at those meetings may no longer be necessary. We encourage Alumnae Clubs to work with their Alumnae Engagement Directors on alternatives if necessary.

Pi Phi History

In 1867, 12 courageous young women at Monmouth College came together to form a sisterhood rooted in shared experiences, enduring values and Sincere Friendships. Today, more than 150 years and 300,000 members later, we continue to celebrate our founders' vision as sisters of Pi Beta Phi.

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