Tap marked by penalties

Tap night descended on Old Campus last night, bringing with it a taste of tradition and, this time around, perhaps a bit of bitterness, as well.

Yale’s 14 a cappella groups tapped new members Wednesday night, ending a tumultuous rush process complete with fierce competition and group-on-group policing. The Singing Group Council — comprising representatives from all the a cappella groups — cracked down on groups throughout the rush season, enforcing regulations that in the past have been widely ignored.

A capella groups tap “babies” — new members — on Old Campus last night. The 2008 rush class was smaller this year, groups said.
Jeff Kaiser
A capella groups tap “babies” — new members — on Old Campus last night. The 2008 rush class was smaller this year, groups said.

Four separate groups, the Baker’s Dozen, Mixed Company, Proof of the Pudding and the Society of Orpheus and Bacchus, faced punishments this year for infractions including illegal meetings with rushees and alcohol violations at singing dessert after-parties, compared to none last year.

As penalties, the SGC required the Baker’s Dozen to cancel its rush dinner, while the other three groups had to wait at the High Street gate for two extra minutes. During this time, other groups could begin the sprint through Old Campus to tap their picks and therefore get to them first. The SGC also levied an additional penalty on Mixed Company, which will have last pick for the date of its singing dessert next year.

Although current a cappella group members said the 2008 rush class was noticeably smaller than those of the past two years, Something Extra member Caroline Nash ’11 said what the class lacked in numbers, it made up for in talent.

“The pool is smaller, but most of the people who have rushed are very talented and know the system in terms of being very savvy about how they manage the rush process,” Nash said.

The result, Nash said, was that there was significant overlap among the top picks and that competition among the groups got personal. “It turns into a game, a ridiculous game,” Nash said.

So ridiculous, apparently, that the SGC stepped in — more than once and in a way that they have not in the past, SGC co-chair Sean Pool ’09 said.

“This is the first year in recent memory that the SGC has actually tried to take the rush rules seriously,” he said. “However, this was a decision that was come to at a meeting with representatives from all the a cappella groups.”

Pool added that many groups were interested in having the rules enforced because in previous years the guidelines were treated “like a joke.” In a pre-rush meeting with representatives from all the a cappella groups, he said, members of several groups said that they did not want to see flagrant violation of rules continue.

The SCG received seven formal complaints and numerous informal complaints pertaining to pre-tapping and illegal meetings between freshmen and a cappella members outside of the rush process, Pool said.

“We want to stress the fact that this is not punitive action and it is not disciplinary action — when a group has done something to gain an advantage, the rules are there to act as a mechanism for equalizing the playing field,” Pool said.

Eric Randall ’11, a Mixed Company member and a staff reporter for the News, said these types of offenses had previously been accepted as par for the course during rush. The stricter enforcement, though, is an indication that a cappella groups are collectively attempting to make the process more fair, he said.

Despite the stress involved, many singers say the rush process is more than worth it.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Mixed Company Rush Manager Sei Young Pyo ‘11 said. “It is heartbreaking, but that is always counteracted by how wonderful it is getting to know the freshmen.”

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