A Better Greek Recruitment

A quick story of changing the Greek recruitment process at Indiana University using design and technology.

There is a certain feeling that flows through every first year student who takes part in the greek rush process. You’re under constant pressure to demonstrate value and your every move is being observed by those around you. It’s comparable to a job interview, but instead of discussing business, the microphone is open to any question; whether it be your social life, political views, or past life experiences. As a new student, you’re meeting hundreds of people in a span of a few days, and influencing members to understand your potential value in their chapter. It is a process that, in the past, has been known for extravagant parties, exorbitant budgets and extremely brief interactions, but too often in these memorable and controversial moments, people are lost.

Potential new members meeting current members of a Greek organization at Indiana University.

A potential member’s information is misplaced, events are not broadcasted, or the student who shined the brightest to the brotherhood accidentally slips between the cracks. These are not fluke cases, and I have personally experienced them on both sides of the process, so when the vice president of recruitment approached me with this problem, I couldn’t say no. We were going to change recruitment at Indiana University and make the experience of rush something more memorable for everyone.

A framework that needed a platform.

It started with a framework created by a peer of mine, Dylan Nash, which allows students to see a different perspective of each chapter. This started by creating dedicated times for each individual student to visit every chapter that sparked their interest, while also having designated days where chapters would hold open events for philanthropic causes. With a couple thousand students going through the process annually, we knew that this large-scale goal needed a technological platform, and that is where the vision I had for recruitment began. This platform needed to be timeless and remove the experiences in recruitment that caused friction on both ends. Naturally, I started to put together a prototype product that concentrated on solving two major issues; information continuity and search.

Part of a profile that shows the basic inofrmation of a user in an easy to understand format.

Typically when a student would visit a chapter, they’d fill out their general information on paper which was then stacked into a pile for the members of the fraternity to sort through later. I’ve seen this process occur at multiple organizations, and if one comes to the conclusion that paper is generally disorganized, you have yet to see the disaster that occurs when greek college students attempt to keep paper in order. To simplify and solve this pain point, I started by focusing on making sure that every user had an elegant profile where they could enter their information. This includes basic information such as hometown and high school, but also includes more detailed information such as having the ability to optionally add their legacy or answer a few questions that a fraternity might be curious about. Every potential new member can control how they are seen by a fraternity.

Over 2,000 Indiana University Students took part in Greek recruitment last year. These are students entering and leaving Delta Upsilon at Indiana University.

The result of having every member of a chapter, as well as every student wishing to join a chapter, creating a profile with their information, meant that the details visible to each organization accurately dipicted who a student was. With the platform, there could never be a situation where a student’s information was misplaced, and potential new members would no longer have to fill out their name and number over 20 times while visiting chapters. By keeping the information in a central repository, technology removed annoyances, which actually made the experience better and less chaotic for every student.

With the core information being in one place, it allowed me to address other issues such as search and discovery of new members. To make students more available to users, I added a search bar that used some technology that Twitter pioneered, combined with behind the scenes algorithms that stored frequent searches locally on the users browser, which meant searching for people was lightning fast. During recruitment, this became the most used way of quickly finding students, whether it be entering their phone number, name, or hometown as the search criteria. To go along with the search bar, I created a dedicated search page for people who wanted to combine search criteria, such as students from their hometown who went to a particular school.

The Interfraternity Council (IFC) Web Platform is responsive and designed for different browsers.

Design isn’t just the look and feel.

Although the features of the website alleviated issues during the greek recruitment process, the overall design of the website is what received the most feedback. While some students, for unique reasons, didn’t have an excellent experience while going through recruitment, they still commented on the simplicity and aesthetic design of the site. It was a modern take on the typical Indiana University website and concentrated on limiting the branded crimson color to areas that were useful for the user. Instead of covering the page in crimson, then subtracting where it was unnecessary, I took the approach of starting with a blank canvas and delicately added color where it was needed the most.

Design, once again and unsurprisingly, became a major focal point of the platform. Take the homepage for example, which immediately offers the ability to signup for recruitment in a parallax like field. The design is simple and fulfills the needs of most visitors of the website, but aesthetic design is equally as import as the technological design.

Video walkthrough of creating an account on the Interfraternity Council Web Platform.

The small field that one sees is actually an extremely complex set of technologies which validate the user’s information, then save the information to the browsers database cache, create a temporary key token on the IFC server, and then redirects the users to Indiana University CAS (Central Authentication System). After the user authenticates with CAS, they are then redirected back to the IFC website with a secondary token, combined with the original token and information that was saved before. The process results in the user not having to input duplicate data, having increased security against phishing attacks, and a great experience of verifying that they are indeed a student. This entire procedure takes less than a fourth of a second and the visitor of the website never realizes it occurred, but that is how these experiences ought to be.

I made this for students.

Examples such as the technology involved with the signup page show the amount of care that was put into creating this platform, all for the sake of the students. In fact, the entire reason this platform was created, was for the sake of students. Keeping information in one place and organized, offering multiple advanced methods of searching for users, and putting careful design into the experience and technology wasn’t for personal gain, this was all done because it had to be done. These decisions and their reasons are made because it’s the right thing to do. I wanted to make the greek recruitment process better for everyone, wether it be the recruitment chair at a fraternity or the student from outside Indiana just getting his foot in the door.

From the feedback I’ve received on the platform, and the concentrated issues I attempted to fix using it, I am fairly certain that it was a better experience for the last two semesters than ever before. The greek recruitment process had the largest turn out ever this past fall, and hopefully the increased organization from the platform, combined with Dylan’s original vision, were the reasons for that. Most people would say that was a success, but with success comes a vaguely similar word; complete. This process and platform is far from complete; it is just getting started, and the Indiana University Interfraternity Council and I are listening to see how we can do better.

Read more about the Interfraternity Council, projects that Liam works on, and more on his personal blog.