9 Ways to Celebrate Mother’s Day in Orange County

May 12

Santa Ana

The neighborhoods of West Floral Park and Jack Fisher Park will host garden viewings for Mother’s Day weekend. Take in the inspiring yard designs and plants with a sidewalk tour and enjoy garden expert talks, a vintage car show, live entertainment, and gourmet food trucks throughout the day. $15. opengardenday.com


May 13

Dana Point

Dana Wharf Cruises offers a two-hour tour aboard the OCean Adventures Catamaran up the coastline to Laguna Beach. “MOMosas” and treats will be served, with a complimentary glass of champagne for the moms. $49 per adult, $25 per child. danawharf.com


May 13

Laguna Niguel

Reserve your spot at Hendrix Restaurant & Bar for a prix fixe Sunday brunch. A special three course menu will be served, which includes a dessert course. $55 per adult, $25 per child. hendrixoc.com


May 13


This garden party in The Backyard at Hotel Irvine features a wide array of events for treating Mom. The farmers market-inspired brunch menu includes a build-your-own pancake, egg, and seafood bar, as well as bottomless mimosas. There are crafts and a petting zoo for the kids, too. $80 per adult, $25 per child. hotelirvine.com


May 12

Dana Point

Enjoy a traditional high tea service and a glass of bubbly at AVEO Table + Bar at the Monarch Beach Resort, while checking out the latest in resortwear from South Coast Plaza, Saks Fifth Avenue, Henri Bendel, and Styled by SJ. Each attendee will also receive a gift bag. $89. monarchbeachresort.com


May 13


The Indoor Marketplace hosts this annual event with live mariachi music, ballet folklorico, giveaways, raffles, and more. There will also be free flowers for the moms! anaheimmarketplace.com


Through May 31

Dana Point

Make Mom feel like “Queen for the Day” with Laguna Cliffs Resort and Spa’s luxury package. Pamper her with a 120-minute Advance Brightening facial and Sommelier Massage. Champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries will be served. $269. lagunacliffs.com


May 12 and May 13

Dana Point

Take mom for a stroll down the Dana Point Harbor Boardwalk to browse through the collection of art made by award-winning local artists. Admission is free, and a portion of proceeds will be donated to the Dana Hills High School art department. danapointfinearts.org


May 13

Santa Ana

Spice things up and take Mom out for dinner and drinks at The Copper Door for this risque show featuring an all-mom burlesque cast. Be sure to stick around to dance and meet the cast at the afterparty. $15 to $30. eventbrite.com

by Alya Hijazi and Hannah Miller

*Originally published as a blog post on the Orange Coast magazine website on 5/11/18*

Island Rhythm: Dana Montgomery Preserves Polynesian Dance Traditions at Le Polynesia in Lake Forest

Dana Montgomery preserves Polynesian dance traditions at Le Polynesia in Lake Forest, a family institution since 1961.

How long have you been dancing?
About 18 years. My (paternal) grandparents were from Kauai and Oahu and opened the original Le Polynesia in Long Beach. Then my parents opened the O.C. location in 2000. I tried hip-hop, ballet, and tap, but I always went back to Polynesian dancing.

What are your responsibilities at the studio?
I teach beginning, intermediate, and advanced classes—everyone from age 3 to 40. I’m in charge of every dance routine when it comes to putting on recitals. I make sure the dances stay authentic for the island we are representing.

What are your classes like?
I try to make them fun and educational. However, we have to remember that we are not only dancing for ourselves but
for a culture. Our main goal is to preserve what my grandparents started.

Your favorite part of teaching?
Seeing my students progress as dancers. I’ve been teaching some of the 13-year-olds for seven years—since I was their age. Some want to “be a hula teacher like Auntie Dana” when they grow up, which is amazing—knowing they have the same passion for the culture as I do.

Do you have a special dancing memory?
Performing with my grandmother, my mom, and my sister during our 50th anniversary ho’ike (exhibition) in 2011. We chose to do my grandmother’s favorite hula dance “Mele Ohana” (love for family). It was one of her last times performing. The entire family was on stage together and felt so much mana (spiritual energy).

by Alya Hijazi

*Originally published by Orange Coast magazine in the May 2018 issue*

10 Great Earth Day Events in Orange County

Earth Day Native Planting Project
Saturday, April 21
9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Doheny State Beach Campfire Center
The California State Parks Foundation and volunteers will be participating in beach cleanups and projects such as planting and weeding native plants. Other activities include installing planter chips and the general cleanup of the campgrounds, park, creeks, and jetty area. Register online at calparks.org.

Earth Day at the Headlands
Saturday, April 21
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Nature Interpretive Center
The Dana Point Headlands Conservation Area is putting on a community-wide event that includes learning about O.C.’s endangered animals and the San Juan Creek Watershed. Activities include nature tours, face painting, whale watching, Native American basket weaving, and getting up close and personal with snakes. You can even take home your own native plant. More information and basket-weaving registration can be found at on Eventbrite.

Earth Day San Clemente
Saturday, April 21
8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Parque Del Mar
Starting with a beach cleanup, the City of San Clemente Environmental Division and the Watershed Task Force spread the message of protecting our water quality. Attendees will be taught how to reduce litter and learn about pollutants that ruin the storm drains, streets, and our ocean. Live music and artists will be present, as well as crafts for kids and educational demonstrations. Find out more by emailing Info@SCwatersheds.com or at san-clemente.org

Bug Out
Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Ocean Institute
Learn about the importance of insects and their impact on the environment with comparative anatomy labs and make-your-own bug boxes and a butterfly feeder workshop. The institute will also host beach cleanups both days beginning at 10 a.m. Tickets are $7.50 to $10 for admission and $12.50 for the butterfly feeder workshop. For more information or to register for the workshop, visit ocean-institute.org/event/bug-out.

Green Scene Plant & Garden Expo
Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22
9 a.m. to 10 a.m. (members); 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (general)
Fullerton Arboretum
For 44 years, garden enthusiasts have come to this spring event to shop for gardening and plant items such as succulents, organic vegetables, garden art, and exotic plants. There will be speakers discussing garden-related topics as well as vendors. Don’t miss the Plein Air event on Sunday, showcasing 30 artists painting live throughout the arboretum. Tickets are $8 for general admission and free for members and children under 12. fullertonarboretum.org

Take the Eco Challenge
Saturday, April 21 and Sunday, April 22
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Discovery Cube Orange County
All weekend long, learn about environmentalism with kid-friendly exhibits, presentations, and stage shows with the purchase of a general admission ticket ($13 to $18). Participate in recycling activities and tune in on Sunday to a special screening of MacGillivray Freeman’s “Humpback Whales.” oc.discoverycube.org

Earth Day at the Bay
Sunday, April 22
10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center
The Newport Bay Conservancy and OC Parks are hosting environmental-themed booths that feature arts and crafts, science discovery, and educational information for the whole family. Listen to live music and presentations, watch environmental short films, and participate in a scavenger hunt and prize drawings. Food trucks will be on site. newportbay.org

Primitive Pottery Workshop for Earth Dayfest
Sunday, April 22
11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Costa Mesa retail center invites people of all ages interested in pottery, primitive skills, or sustainable living to join their pottery workshop sponsored by Nature Connection. Discover Channel’s Chad Keel will be teaching. Learn how to pound residual clay chunks with stones to create moldable clay, and use a variety of methods to shape your creation. Register on Eventbrite.

Celebrate Earth Day
Sunday, April 22
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pretend City Children’s Museum
Children of all ages are welcome to take part in environmental awareness activities. Create your own model of the Earth out of coffee filters and colored water, construct cereal box buildings and can cars out of recyclable materials, learn about different seed varieties, and end the day with an Earth science story time session. Admission is $9.50 to $12.50. pretendcity.org

Earth Day Celebration
Sunday, April 22
11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Ecology Center
Take part in hands-on DIY activities on Road Trip, the Center’s new 32-foot double decker bus that will make its first appearance at the festival. A variety of demos, workshops, and a plant sale will also take place, as well as strawberry picking and kids yoga. There will also be live music and food from local restaurants. Register at theecologycenter.org

by Alya Hijazi

*Originally published as a blog post on Orange Coast magazine website on 4/12/18*

Killefer Square project nears approval

Chapman students proposed by private developers, has integrated more measures to preserve the historic aspects of the building after a March 21 meeting with Orange’s Design Review Committee .

The committee is responsible for making decisions about the key components of construction sites, like site planning and architectural information.

Marissa Moshier, the city of Orange’s historic preservation planner, said the project has not yet been fully approved because developers are still working to get approval for their development plans.

“(The) report states the features that will be preserved,” Moshier said. “It needs to be approved by the planning commission next, and then needs signing by city council.”

The ruling helps preserve the historic nature of the building that the Orange Unified School District had neglected to review, according to a March 22 Facebook post by the Old Towne Preservation Association, a nonprofit that protects historic buildings in Orange. The Killefer School was originally part of the district.

“(The Killefer Square project) is a much smaller project than originally proposed,” said the post. “A request to allow inappropriate modifications (vinyl windows, fiberglass doors, and steel garage door) by a developer to a project on South Lemon St. was unanimously denied by (the Design Review Committee).”

The Killefer School is expected to become a one-and-two-bedroom residential building, according to the Design Review Committee’s meeting agenda. The project is designed for college students, architect Leason Pomeroy told The Panther Feb. 26, as the abandoned school building will be made into dorms.

There will be six units on the historic side of the property, while an additional building on the property’s northwest side will house 18 units.

Only one side of the property is considered historic, Moshier said, which is why that side is limited to six units.

“The boundary next to Killefer runs down the center of the street,” she said. “The west side of Lemon Street is within the historic district, but the east side is not, so it is split.”

Moshier said that the plans will preserve exterior and interior features of the historic school, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places three months after the buyers entered escrow.

The final stages before construction include approval from the Orange Planning Commission, five people who oversee land use decisions and policies.

The Planning Commission ensures that these land use decisions are consistent with state law and the city’s plan. After that, the city council reviews these decisions and formally adopts them.

Irashe Lecama, an Orange resident who lives across the street from Killefer, supports the action of transforming the abandoned school into complexes for students to live in.

“It’s perfect, because I know there are students at (Orange High School) who (hang around) there and smoke,” Lecama said.

Jay Justice, another Orange resident, is indifferent toward the news because students currently live in the homes and residential halls near his home. To him, the housing at Killefer is just another addition to the already-prevalent student population.

“(Killefer) doesn’t bother me,” Justice said. “Students are everywhere. It’s (a part of the) community.”

Jasmin Sani contributed to this report.

by Alya Hijazi

*Originally published in the Panther on 4/1/18*

Shiza Shahid talks helping found Malala Fund at spring speaker event

When Shiza Shahid was a student at Stanford University, she watched a video that Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai uploaded – three years before then-15-year-old Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman.

Shahid, who is the co-founder of the Malala Fund, spoke at Chapman March 7 about her experience helping found the organization at Yousafzai’s bedside after she was shot.

The Malala Fund is an organization dedicated to advocating for universal education for all women. It is centered in countries such as India, Pakistan, Nigeria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, Turkey and Jordan.

“Change is grassroots, gradual and intimate,” Shahid said. “The work I did with Malala was like the butterfly effect: Something so simple can turn into a typhoon.”
Yousafzai’s video inspired Shahid to start a summer camp to teach Pakistani girls the importance of education.

“(The camp showed) the power we have to influence the world in ways we can never imagine,” Shahid said. “We have the power to change what we cannot accept.”

Riddhi Mehra, the University Program Board’s director of awareness, said that about 60 students attended the UPB-hosted event. Although it wasn’t a large turnout, Mehra said, the event was a success because “everyone who came really wanted to be there.”

Mehra said that UPB reached out to Shahid because it thought she would connect with students – 24-year-old Shahid is only a few years out of college herself.

“(Shahid has) worked with the Malala Fund and created her own investment company,” Mehra said. “She shows that you don’t need big contacts or money to make a difference … She’s really inspiring because she’s young and has done so much in her life.”

Shahid also spoke about her life in Pakistan, where she was raised.

“I learned what it means to become a woman,” she said. “(Women) are all fundamentally shaped by community, culture and circumstances.”

Freshman business administration major Allie Ma, who volunteered at the event, said that stories about Shahid’s upbringing were a memorable part of the night.

“(Shahid is) the reason that Malala’s name is so well known. She gave Malala the platform to speak out about what was going on in Pakistan, and she was an integral part in making women’s education so worldwide,” Ma said. “There’s so much more to every story than just the one face you see, and it takes more than one person to contribute to everyone’s success.”

by Alya Hijazi

*Originally published in the Panther on 3/8/18*

Muslim Student Association hosts second Hijab and Kufi Day

The sounds of the oud – a short-necked Arab instrument – floated through the air in the Attallah Piazza at Chapman’s Hijab and Kufi Day March 1, hosted by the Muslim Student Association (MSA).

This marks the second year that MSA has hosted the event. Last year’s eventwas held to protest the sentiments behind President Donald Trump’s travel ban, said Muhammad Karkoutli, president of MSA.

“At that point in time, the Muslims on campus felt like they needed to do something,” he said. “This year, it’s a way to engage the community and raise awareness on the hijab and kufi. (We want to share) our tradition and expose it to the public.”

About 24 percent of reported religious hate crimes in the U.S. were anti-Islam, according to a 2016 FBI report. Seventy-five percent of Muslims feel that there is discrimination against them in the U.S., according to a 2017 Pew Research Center report.

One of the purposes behind the event was to reduce Islamophobia, said Hakeem Wakil, the MSA treasurer.

“Everyone in the Chapman community was so welcoming to our event and I was so excited seeing people I have never met before ask a little about Islam,” Wakil said. “Our goal in MSA is to play a positive role in the Chapman community, and I feel like Hijab and Kufi Day has done just that.”

The kufi is a traditional cap worn by Muslim men, and the hijab is a headscarf worn by Muslim women.

Junior kinesiology major Kenzie Saleh, a member of MSA, drew henna on the people who attended the event.

MSA is a nationwide nonprofit organization that brings students together and promotes tolerance, according to its website. There are 98 registered MSA chapters in the U.S.

“(MSA) is not exclusively for Muslims,” Karkoutli said. “(We want to provide a space) where people who are interested in Islam or happen to be Muslim can meet up, socialize and learn from one another.”

Among the people at the MSA table was freshman Noor Dababneh, who is a Jordanian Christian and a peace studies major.

“It’s important for me to be a part of MSA because there’s (this) sense of community,” Dababneh said. “I get to meet people who are from the same background as me and have things in common.”

by Alya Hijazi
*Originally published in the Panther 3/02/18*

Development of Killefer Square pushed back

A privately funded student housing project has been delayed and reduced by about 215 beds due to conflicts with the Old Towne Preservation Association and Orange’s historic planner, said Leason Pomeroy, an architect on the project.

“(The project) has been going on for almost five years now because of the need to preserve and rehabilitate the historic buildings on the site,” Pomeroy said.

At a public forum hosted by the developers in April 2017, some residents expressed concern because the site of the construction, which is at the historic Killefer School, is on the National Register of Historic Places. The Killefer School may be one of the only remaining schools in California that was desegregated in the 1940s before it was legally required.

Doug DeCinces, who was one of the real estate developers for the property in 2016, was found guilty of 13 counts of insider trading, according to the Los Angeles Times, after prosecutors alleged that he had received insider information from Board of Trustees Vice Chair Jim Mazzo. Mazzo was on trial in January, but a judge declared a mistrial Feb. 21.

DeCinces told The Panther in 2016 that there had not been any interest in the Killefer building for 12 years.

“Three months after we entered escrow, it became a historic site,” he said.

“What’s taking all that time is the plan coming to a compromise on how much we could actually build on the site, as well as restore the historic building,” Pomeroy said. “(Because of this), the density has been reduced considerably.”

The project, which is geared toward Chapman students, was reduced from 341 beds to 124, Pomeroy said.

“They’ll definitely be for students since they’re designed for students,” he said. “They’re not designed for the normal type of apartment building … They’re going to be set up like dorms where you’ll have more than one person per room.”

Although the rooms are advertised for students, Chapman is unlikely to support the project or offer any financial aid, President Daniele Struppa told The Pantherin September 2016.

Private companies are not exempt from taxes, which means that the enterprise would have to generate grants for student residents out of their own pocket, Pomeroy said.

“The thing that’s good about this particular project is that … we’ll be very competitive with the university’s rates, probably lower than their rates,” Pomeroy said.

The average yearly price for a first-year dorm is about $24,800 for singles, $15,700 for doubles, and $14,400 for triples, according to a Residence Life and First Year Experience document.

Despite the delay, the housing is expected to become available sometime next year if the plans are approved, Pomeroy said.

by Alya Hijazi and Olivia Harden

*Originally published in the Panther on 2/25/18*

‘Nothing can replace the real thing’: Panel discusses growth of artificial intelligence

Panelists discussed the relationship between emotion and artificial intelligence, and how humans and robots are changing with the expansion of technology at the “Beyond Human: Emotion and AI” event Feb. 13. The panel answered questions about human influence on artificial intelligence and how it impacts society.

“Why would the ultimate achievement be when (artificial intelligence is) on the same level as humans?” Lisa Joy, the co-creator of HBO show “Westworld,” said at the event. “Why would they stop there? It’s hubris to assume that (growth) would just stop.”

The use of artificial intelligence is growing at a rapid pace. Seventy-five percent of executives from more than 200 businesses are developing a plan to implement the technology within the next three years, Intelligence Unit report by The Economist found. About  23 percent of Americans worry about losing their jobs to artificial intelligence, according to a Northeastern University and Gallup survey.

Artificial intelligence is the development of computer systems that can perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making and translation between languages.

John McCarthy, a Stanford professor, first coined the term “artificial intelligence” in 1956, and invented a computer programming language for the science three years later, according to a Stanford news story.

Joy, who headlined the event, was joined by Chapman professor and author James Blaylock, University of Roehampton professor Caroline Bainbridge, Rose Eveleth, a producer and writer, and Jonathan Gratch, the University of Southern California’s director for virtual human research.

Patrick Fuery, the dean of Wilkinson College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences led the panel by asking questions submitted by Wilkinson students.

“One of the reasons people build (artificial intelligence) is to interact with it,” Gratch said during the event. “They create a stereotype of not real emotion, but of how emotion should be.”

During the event, panelists discussed how the rise of artificial intelligence in daily life can bring up ethical dilemmas, like those shown in “Westworld” and the film “Ex Machina.” While health and science fields are the ones usually impacted by artificial intelligence – according to the study by The Economist – some professors discussed how it could impact literature and the arts and humanities.

“Nothing android can replace the real thing,” Blaylock said about the role of artificial intelligence in writing poetry and novels.
Anna Leahy, director of the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, presented two poems at the start of the night. She believed that artificial intelligence needs the humanities, rather than the other way around.

“The growth of (artificial intelligence) should foster a concurrent rise in the value of the arts and humanities,” Leahy said. “Interdisciplinary thinking and breadth may become more valuable because a machine is more adept at specialization and more adept at classifying than creating.”

With big names such as Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking warning people about the threat of artificial intelligence, tensions are increasing.

“I think the two biggest fears people have surrounding technology is invasion of privacy and lack of autonomy,” said Jack Kirby, an undeclared student. “Technology is becoming a lot more personal. Through a machine’s algorithms like Alexa’s or Google Home’s, they begin to know what you do, and what you like and what you purchase among other things. In that vein, people think machines and technology are taking over our jobs and will eventually control our lives.”

However, even with this outlook that many share, Kirby is optimistic for the future.

“In my opinion, I think (artificial intelligence) is something that can be super influential and positive if created with the right care,” he said. “Everyone’s worried that, once (artificial intelligence) has advanced enough, something like SkyNet (from “The Terminator”) will emerge and destroy us. But if there’s a way to put a failsafe program or reasoning into the (artificial intelligence), then I think that (artificial intelligence) would be safe to progress.”

Following the increasing trend of technological advancements, Dodge College of Film and Media Arts recently announced the addition of a virtual reality/augmented reality minor in the fall semester. Bill Kroyer, the head of the Digital Arts program and one of the founding members of the minor, talked about the impact of the program on artificial intelligence.

“Chapman is aware that this technology will have a huge impact on our lives, and we need to stay up with what’s happening,” Kroyer said.

by Alya Hijazi

*Originally published in the Panther on 2/14/18*

Orange County sees 355 percent flu increase

Orange County has seen a 355 percent increase in cases of the flu this year, with about 4,600 cases of the flu from October to January, said Matt Zahn, a medical director for the Orange County Health Care Agency.

“We’ve seen a spike in flu reports countywide in the last two to three weeks. The increase is earlier than usual,” Zahn said. “We’ve had more reports of flu this year than any year since 2009.”

At Chapman, 144 students have visited the Student Health Center since September due to flu-like symptoms. In 2016 and 2017, from September to April, 188 and 185 students with flu-like symptoms visited the center, said Director of Student Health Jacqueline Deats.

Symptoms can include fever, cough, a sore throat, body aches, chills and fatigue, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Deats said that, when students come in with flu symptoms, the center can provide prescriptions for Tamiflu, an antiviral medication that can shorten the flu’s duration when taken within 48 hours of symptoms first appearing.

“Get a yearly flu vaccine, wash your hands often, keep in good health, don’t smoke, stay away from sick people and keep your hands off your face,” she said.

She also suggested that students with the flu stay home until they have been fever-free for 24 hours, but this may require missing classes. The university allows professors to determine their own attendance policies, but recommends that students who are absent for 20 percent of the course fail the course.

“It depends on the class and how sick (students) are,” said freshman business administration major Jacqueline Zhao. “If they are contagious they shouldn’t go, especially if there’s no test. But ultimately, I understand why students would still attend.”

Nationwide outpatient visits to health care providers for the flu are up by 5 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Weekly U.S. Influenza Surveillance Report.

According to the Orange County Public Health Laboratory, the most identified virus in this year’s flu season has been influenza A. Because of the intensity of the influenza A strain, the flu can turn into pneumonia or sepsis, according to the Sepsis Alliance.

Chapman sophomore Jonathan Whitney, a business administration major, suffered from sepsis and pneumonia that was the result of the flu, according to Facebook posts by a friend and his former high school. Whitney’s family did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

He was removed from life support Feb. 3, and is now at the Sutter Rehabilitation Institute for physical therapy in Northern California, according to a CaringBridge account made to update family and friends on his condition.

At this time last year, the Orange County Health Care Agency reported zero deaths in the county. With this season’s flu, there have been 11 deaths in people under the age of 65, Zahn said.

“It’s not too late, you should still get vaccinated if you have not already,” he said.

Deats said students can get flu shots for free at the Student Health Center while supplies last.

by Alya Hijazi

*Originally published in the Panther on 2/11/18*

Sorority recruitment saw 11 percent increase this year

This January, more than 700 women went through recruitment this year, marking an 11 percent increase in comparison to about 630 who registered last year, which was the first year of spring sorority recruitment.

Dean of Students Jerry Price told The Panther in 2015 that spring recruitment was introduced to help moderate the growth of sororities and encourage freshmen to get involved in other campus activities before rushing.

“I always felt that deferred recruitment was better than early fall (because students were better) acclimated to the campus,” Price told The Panther in a Feb. 2 interview.

The number of new members could have been a result of the large number of students in this year’s freshman class, he said.

This year, Chapman’s freshman class size increased by about 11 percent after the university exceeded its enrollment goal. About 1,700 students enrolled this year, compared to about 1,500 in 2016.
Price said that administrators hoped moving recruitment to spring would help students find friends through other activities – like clubs and classes – before joining a sorority.

“(The administrators) thought that moving to spring would help women find some other way of engagement on campus and might help keep the numbers down,” he said. “September was too rushed (and the) chapters were growing so fast (that I) was concerned that it might affect the quality of sisterhood.”

Although deferred recruitment was initially supposed to decrease – or at least stabilize – the number of potential new members, it may have led to even more people trying to join.

Freshman political science major Madison Mercer decided to register a week before rush kicked off.

“(The large number of girls) made it better,” Mercer said. “I was able to make so many friends just when we would stand in line waiting to go talk to the sororities. Every single girl was so helpful with mints, perfume or safety pins. (Everyone) was trying to help every other girl out.”

Haley Knapp, a freshman business administration major, said that the large number of girls made recruitment “exciting” – although it complicated some aspects of the process.

“It did become difficult when you only had a short amount of time to get to your next house and you have to plow your way through a huge congregation of girls,” she said.

As the number of girls in recruitment reached record heights, more Rho Gamma groups had to be added to accommodate them all. Rho Gamma leaders are sorority members who cannot reveal their sorority affiliations as they lead groups of girls through the recruitment process.

Senior strategic and corporate communication major Lauren McClendon, a Rho Gamma from Alpha Phi, said that a few potential new members (PNMs) asked her about the large number of women going through recruitment. About 520 women accepted bids this year, meaning that about 180 either didn’t receive bids or didn’t accept the bids they received.

“I would reassure them that it was not a competition among PNMs and that there was room for everyone who was rushing,” McClendon said.

by Alya Hijazi and Janice Kim

*Originally published in the Panther on 2/4/18*